Review in Verse of Forgotten Work, Novel in Verse by Jason Guriel

One good work of verse deserves another.
Though thudding rhymes alone do not mother
Wisdom, grace or insight, at least to stab
At them tempers a critic’s gift of gab.
Putting him, her, it or them on equal
Footing with the poet. Far from a sequel,
This review of Guriel’s novel, Forgotten
Work, aims at but an ancillary slot in
the limelight.
                                         Set in 2063
In part in Montreal, a fraught city
Whose demolished Mount Royal, by a fluke
Was inverted into Crater with a nuke
Misaimed by Don Junior, Acting President,
Parody plausible for such event.
Guriel, well-versed in the Canuck
Hive-mind, knew we couldn’t easily duck
The spector of crisscrossing Soviet
Or Russkie and NORAD missles. A tête-
À-tête between strident adversaries.
Leaves no safe and sure sanctuaries.

James Gordon, eccentric founder and lead
Of a cult rock group, espoused this creed:
Renown is enemy of the sublime.
He elected to descend not to climb
Slopes of Parnassian fame, to confound
Poetry with raucous musical sound.
Mountain Tea was the loaded handle
Of his band, whose erasure is the scandal
Upon which the plot turns. Its members lifted
Their name from the oeuvre of a gifted
Poet also from Montreal, Van Toorn,
Peter. As his name suggests, he was born
In The Netherlands, moved here. Like Rimbaud
After Illuminations, this bro
Knew when to stop. Having reached a summit
With Mountain Tea, rather than plummet
Down some abyss of mediocre despond,
He sought the complexity of life beyond
Mere poetry.
                               “Beyond music instead”
Or so the eponymous band had said,
Though their crazy music could not be pawned
Like Van Toorn’s book on mighty Amazon
For over four hundred bucks (there’s a cheap
Reprint at a price nowhere near so steep
By Vehicule Press in fair Montreal).
No. In fact, aficionados in thrall —
A proliferating cast of hundreds
Armed with a glut of hi-tech wonders —
Couldn’t find a vinyl, tape or file.
Their last hope was to track down the exile
Gordon, who made his home in the Dantesque gulf,
Which reeked of rot, decay, refuse and sulph-
Ur, odiferous strains perfect for punk,
Though a smelly place in which to spelunk.

Not to rehearse its plot by chapter and verse,
The tale’s set in a future Metaverse,
Though never is uttered that copywrit
Word. Guriel can thus display his wit
Inventing names for things old and new
Involving Zuck and his nefarious crew
And the letter zed. Blogs have become zlogs.
The web itself is the Zuck. Catalogues
Of devices and programs are marked zed:
Folks read Zwitter, take Zzzquil before bed,
Snapshots are brought alive by touch to post
On Zuckgram, Zucktube, any cyber-host.
Zuber’s at ones beck and call, rather winks
Since double clicks have become double blinks.
Teleporting is the norm, sometimes botched
As in The Fly. Everything is watched
By helicoptering surveillance eyes,
With ubiquitous hovering drones as spies,
The real is virtual, as on Oculus,
Except the device is superfluous.
Cyborgs don’t “wear” fleshtech, they merge
With it, unless they die by power surge.

I have mentioned Dante and Van Toorn
As influences Guriel has torn
From literature. There are many more.
First mentioned: Nabokov. Even before
Van Toorn’s MT, Gordon fronted Pale Fire
As the group’s moniker, poetry a lyre
Accompanying for a change sound
Rather than the other way around.
Among other literary ghosts haunting
The novel are Pynchon’s two daunting
Own cult tomes V. and Gravity’s Rainbow,
Difficult models from which to borrow.
The former’s alluded to in smartbook form,
Media in which content will transform
Per what’s on your mind; the latter, fallout
From a shared theme, the nuke, which takes out
The mountain of Montreal (Spoiler
Alert: in the brief Epilogue the same broiler
Treatment will befall Edmonton — it’s in
Alberta, for you Yanks who cannot pin
It on the map.) The plot is an echo
From the Chilean Roberto Bolaño,
Whose Los detectives salvajes depicts,
Putting aside its literary tricks,
A cult around a mythic poetess
(Better “poet” — let’s admit a foetus’s
Genitals should not impinge on belles-lettres).
His heroine was but a raison d’être,
As perhaps was Van Toorn’s Mountain Tea.
She never wrote at all, though to be
Honest, no one wrote anything: it’s all
Made up. Otherwise life would be banal.
And this motley cavalcade of authors
But scratches the surface. Ignorant scoffers,
Those who think that poetry cannot rhyme,
Will not acknowledge or seek out prime
Bookish real estate, the architecture
Of allegory, the subtle texture
Of allusion, articulate skills taught in
The past. Some works are best not forgotten.

A reader immune to science fiction
Not to mention rock, my addiction
To Forgotten Work came as surprise. I had
Bought it in dumbprint, already not so bad,
Then on Kindle — Zindle in ’63?
Just for browsing, Kindle samples are free.
And with Wi-fi it’s close as we can get
To what future digital natives will fret
Over, the true plasticity of a smartbook.
Yet the BeZos price for the dumbbook
makes me think its print run’s at tail’s end.
So pick up copies to dash to a friend.
In any case, you got my message, heed it!
Buy it in any format, then read it!.



My main poetry site is