‘Hope Alt Delete’ by Nikki Dudley – Knives Forks and Spoons Press

coverimagehopeal1

This is a wonderfully elusive text, but it would seem the text is primarily about the inability to pin down meanings, so this is precisely the point/reflection: language is elusive, whether that is in talking about/in the world today, or just is, is a second-language, is interpretation, is the vernacular that does not fit expectation/etiquette, the playfulness of phonetics, and mis-hearing, mis-typing, mis-speaking, mis-teriousness, misspelling.

It is all about word/s and how we and machinery [in its broadest sense] define or control or alter or delete meaning. I hope that is a meaningful summation.

There is throughout a reading a sense of dislocation and disruption, whether this is in one’s understanding and/or speaking; or, in experiencing emotion, like love, so in this respect there are conventional themes alongside the unconventional.

Above all, the writing is experimental, though I do dislike the distancing this implies: how can any language writing perceptively about the world today not engage in alternatives to the conventional? In a world of rampant alternative facts, the poet needs to keep pace with other linguistic inroads to what is. Outroads? I think you get the idea.

The text is playful too. I believe there is plenty of teasing in the constantly shifting telling – to keep us engaged, to keep us on our toes, to keep us eluded.

The book’s opening poem Ayuda illustrates much of what I have mentioned [and this with two others can be read here at Knives Forks and Spoons Press],

ayuda

ayuda2

I thought at first this was spoken by the central persona for the whole, but I don’t believe this is the case – there seem to be many other voices speaking/spoken about throughout the collection. But we do see here the engagement with an ever-shifting language and meaning, for speaker and reader, so we are all lost in a word now and in further poems. There are the verbal miscues of tols/tools, which is realistic enough in a persona speaking a ‘foreign’ language, and then there is the writer’s playfulness with under-stand/over-stand, and then the Poe-hams about love, if they are about love rather than being lost.

I don’t know. I don’t care that I don’t know.

Later in the book, in a storyline that has unravelled with the most elusive of clues [Dudley also writes thriller/crime novels….], or which has whilrled in dan generous spirals of many, we do come across an anchor of sorts, the poem Hope, though the importance/success of this human ambition is, as expected, and mimicked in its linguistic expression, thwarted:

first-quote

And this leads into a poem titled cost-benefit where not only the language we write/speak/can’t speak but also print becomes a challenge to understanding and meaning, though

CAPITALISATION  is a dictator

does indeed convey its full meaning in the context of

second-quote

This book is challenging to read but all the more relevant and engaging for this. There is so much cohesion in the dislocation, in fact, and perhaps that paradox is what resonates most in this experimental writing – and gives the very term a meaningfulness it deserves.

Highly recommended. Buy here. £7 UK; £11 outside UK

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