Tuesday, July 12, 2016



Bandicoot habitat by Mark Young
(gradient books, Finland, 2015)

Mark Young’s been around and is experienced. That explains the sense I got from his latest book, Bandicoot habitat, of some persona always looking back—to some memory, history, or lesson/revelation (the three categories, just to cite three, overlap but are not synonymous). It wasn’t until I finished reading all of the poems in the book that I caught the back cover text that says Bandicoot habitat

digs even further into the unreality that is our real world. Characters as temporally & geographically distant as Hasan-i-Sabbah, Arnold Schwarzenegger, & Utamaro hold off-center stage as a millennium reveals itself to be smoke & mirrors, just before it collapses around us.

These poems are part of an on-going process to put the pieces back together.

It’s consistent with the sense I get from the poems, which means Young succeeded in manifesting his intention with the book’s poems. His poems reflect the marvelous by connecting elements one wouldn’t expect to be in the same room with each other, and it’s a testament to his skill that the results don’t grate.

Indeed, what makes the poems pleasurable reading is their internal music creating a logic to the joining of various references.

In this most recent collection by Young, there also seems to be more equanimity than I recall seeing in prior work. That would make sense as “to put the pieces back together” in a world of “smoke and mirrors” may require (temporarily) deferring judgment to focus on catching the fragments of a fragmenting world. The world of this book is eating itself, and doing so rapidly and ravenously.  Here’s the title poem:

Bandicoot habitat

Reconnect the landscape.
To submit news of your
wedding to the New York
Times, please follow the
instructions. Submissions
will be edited & fact-
checked depending on their
location &/or demographics.
                        FBI special agents will be
            permitted to install wiretaps
at their own discretion. They
can curate any article, no
matter what its relevance.

This short poem sure made that leap effectively from something relatively benign like the submission policy for wedding announcements to the Big Brother FBI: “any article, no / matter what its relevance.”  Because bandicoots, you see, are omnivores—defined by Wikipedia, that means they “lack carnivore or herbivore specializations…but … consume both animals and plants.”  (Italics mine.) As a poetics for Young, it’s surfaced unexpectedly-pleasing results via poetry—as good a strategy as any for making the craft fresh. 

I want to share one more example—one of the poems that stood out for me during my first reading of the book; it stood out because I also thought it an ars poetica for the collection:

Patchouli is irresponsibility

The preferred method of
ceramic construction is to
assemble a natural comm-
unity—astronomical clocks,
environmentally omnivorous
scavengers, the storm surge
from a category 4 hurricane—
& create an army from the

synergies. Then in the
final stages, the amount of
kinetic energy generated
by a matriarch with good
connections can be the equi-
valent of a Sanskrit saga.

Yes, the poems derive from and effect a saga—it’s the history of the world.


Eileen Tabios does not let her books be reviewed by Galatea Resurrects because she's its editor (the exception would be books that focus on other poets as well).  She is pleased, though, to point you elsewhere to recent reviews of her work: THE CONNOISSEUR OF ALLEYS was reviewed by Marthe Reed for The Volta Blog and Grady Harp for Amazon;  INVENT(ST)ORY was reviewed by  Neil Leadbeater in The Halo-Halo Review Mangozine #2Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole was reviewed by Monica Manolachi in The Halo-Halo Review Mangozine #2Footnotes to Algebra was reviewed by Chris Mansel in The Halo-Halo Review Mangozine #2; and SILK EGG was reviewed by Aileen Ibardaloza in Goodreads.

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