Ian Randall Wilson. Theme of the Parabola. (2005)
P. O. Box 2872
Venice, CA 90294
38 pp. $10.
We have to take Ian Randall Wilson at his word when he says things like “I’m here to document the normal” as he does in the poem “I Gloss the History of the Human Tongue” though these poems all seem to organize themselves in a technicolor war against the quotidian. And I think we can believe Wilson when he says, very delicately, “Let us listen to the voice of the instant” as he does in “Learning from Lumpiness” though the voice in these poems is a wildly ranging voice, reaching its big hairy human arms far back into the past and pushing their way into the future.
I think we take Ian Randall Wilson at his word because there is such confidence and fluency in his voice, in the active consciousness that springs to life in each of these poems. His word, finally, is all we really have; it is also all that is necessary. Look at these lines from “Forget Everything You Thought You Knew About Slip Covers” for example:
I imagine a weight hanging from a string.
I image the weight grows with time.
Only three equations are necessary for chaos
but at least four occasions are required.
This is one of them […]
Here is a controlling consciousness, a speaker, I don’t mind being controlled by. I’m glad to go where he takes me, amazed at the linguistic virtuosity that takes the verb “imagine” and translates it into a new verb “image.” I’m bursting with sympathy for a string (!) and I’m overjoyed at the transmutation from “equations” to “occasions” and the deadpan finale that serves as a springboard into the deep water. I can almost imagine that Wilson, too, was overjoyed. See, I feel an inventively provisional undercurrent to these poems. These are not poems with outlines or preconceived grand themes. These are poems that speak in “the voice of an instant,” but it is a timeless instant; these are poems of documentation, but it is proof of the human potential for constant ingenuity.
Of course, the now is a lovely and varied place, but why sing? Well, “In an absence of because\the head just path sometimes.” I think that’s the only smug answer we need. Why not sing? Why not skitter and scat our way towards some kind of understanding:
That line was what makes the next line possible
that and a vocabulary to describe
the underlying patter of life— […]
(“An Illustrated Text Aimed At Engineers”)
Whatever the understanding is, whatever the meaning behind the patter, these poems are confident that it can be talked out, that we’ll only get there by trying. The poems are fueled by the self, are indeed self-fueling, and they’re guzzling it all down quick, burning themselves up before they burn out.
--Review by Nate Pritts.