Monday, June 27, 2011

Roy Miki, Mannequin Rising

Whereas this cluster of shoppers with
draw hope from dangling pronouns

And whereas this bridge that con
joins resists the run on the sentence

And whereas this designated place
mat is tight lipped on migratory commas

And whereas this market erected in mid
stream feeds on the veins of creeks

And whereas this not for sale make
shift canoe replicates the idea of passage

And whereas this reverse of water con
flates the drainage of seductive fillings

And whereas this island stands as trade
mark to the bouyancy of socialite codes

Let the rhetoric flip its blissed nominals
on the farthest reaches of its distemper

Let chains of recurrence picket all
the wickets on the chagrined boardwalk

Let fruit (o raspberries) in basketry
collapse into circuits of belonging

Let no wreckage patent the pillage
or haunt the glowing in the village (“A Walk on Granville Island”)
Governor-General's Award-winning poet Roy Miki's fifth trade poetry collection, Mannequin Rising (Vancouver BC: New Star Books, 2011), exists as an exploration of public spaces and personal responses and responsibilities, specifically referencing most-often-beheaded store mannequins placed in mall windows as an avatar for large-scale consumerism. 

Including full-colour photo-collages by the author, the collection is, at its core, built around three lengthy sections of sequences, starting with “Scoping (also pronounced 'Shopping') in Kits” to “A Walk on Granville Island” and “Viral Travels to Tokyo,” surrounded by shorter pieces that hold the manuscript in place as a whole. 

So much of Vancouver poet and editor Miki's work in this collection is held in his immediate, walking the streets of Vancouver neighbourhoods, or ongoing travels to the country of his ancestors, providing subtle touches and a light touch across a landscape of commodity that has become all-too-commonplace.
Do you believe that all these
waters have not been charted?

These instruments on the dock
are tracking devices

They barely hold together
under intense scrutiny

Once upon a time one could
say there was an all purpose
supermarket in this solidarity
that could not have been

For instance here in the crook
of a water colour scenario
a dissolve of say brown and/
or blue with a smidgen of grey
in the hand me down clouds spoil
the mandarin oranges pyramidically
poised to capture our fancy this

i wonder about the starlings that
congregate around the passengers
who dole out food substances freely
with an elan usually associated with
those with gifted bodies and minds (“A Walk on Granville Island”)
The third of the longer-sequence sections, Viral Travels to Tokyo,” exists as a kind of “utanikki,” or poetic travel journal, a form consisting of a mixture of poetry and prose explored as well by Canadian poets Fred Wah, Roy Kiyooka and bpNichol. Rife with small moments, a light touch and insight, Miki's poems evoke a kind of breathless-zen movement. What might be left of us, his poems inquire, if everything we have and we are is for sale? Written in couplets ghazal or even haiku-like in their brevity, Miki's poems require the strictest of quiet attention.
turbulence zones
in on Tokyo's light

winding down clock
time it's already tomorrow

before today is done
the recuperation queries

who is that masked gaijin?

it follows that nothing
is irretrievalbe in the descent

Where is the hot seat located? Where does the wand seek to land? What if the thermal vane spins out of whack? The clipboards hanging on the inspectors are blank and look more decorative than rowdy. One seat over, K sees they've been tied over their shoulders, as if improvised, with some plastic rope with frayed edges. Hedge against the tide, so we suppose. What's with the goggles in the fractured light? We wear our metabolic suits in neutral colours for the duration.

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