Sunday, January 17, 2010

In Stereo by Paul Hegedus

Brampton, Ontario poet Paul Hegedus’ In Stereo (Toronto ON: BookThug, 2009), is helping keep writer/publisher Jay MillAr’s small Toronto enterprise one of the few poetry publishing houses in Canada worth keeping a constant and consistent eye upon. In his first trade poetry collection, Hegedus works the idea of the double, writing in what the book jacket calls stereophonics, turning lines that twist the direct statement even of the North American ghazal, moving through a mix of structures and styles, and turning ghazal-like leap to leap into twist to sodden twist. But why not simply call the collection “stereophonics,” writing his (as the back cover tells it) “twin microphones…positioned in order to more accurately record and represent a sonic movement”?

What is it mean when Hegedus says that he writes his concerns in or of the stereo? Is this writing dna strands of the double, wrapping up into each other, or leaving the old-fashioned mono behind into whatever came next, to Phil Spector’s historic “wall of sound”? From straight lyric to visuals and many variants in-between, there are what could be considered visual/text “walls” at either end of the collection, beginning the collection before moving out into the construction of the book itself, twisting phrases in on themselves until they crackle and spark, and crack even into themselves, as he even writes “speech sets movement towards two words” (p 45) or “notice the two speakers // your relationship to a / position thru its repetition // split finger mirror figure // flip side rotations of / vocalized versioning // fun house flowers informed / by glass shards” (p 69). In a magnificent collection moving uniform in multiple directions, is this Hegedus alternating right and left channels, as well as that moment or those moments when both sides exist at equal levels, equal volume, making it impossible to tell exactly where any of the pre-recorded sounds are coming from? Is this Hegedus in surround-sound?

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