Ambroise Lefurgey: Selected Poems

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Ambroise Lefurgey: Selected Poems. Translation and Foreword by Liesl Ketum. ISBN-13: 978-1544920962. ISBN-10: 1544920962. gnOme, 2017. 80pp. $7.00

Lefurgey was a metaphysical wayfarer, a poet-sage who lived his life on the razor’s edge. A walking coincidentia oppositorum, he threw himself full tilt into the Moebius simultaneity of worlds both sacred and profane. Enigmatic and dreamlike, yet not without a recurrent insistence on embodiment, his surreal poems flicker as hot coals do, often flaring between themes of eternity and facticity, body and spirit, love and lovelessness.

“Lefurgey’s poetry—a light / so bright it blinds my eyes / Alive! / Alive! / Alive! / (I’ve died!)” — Daniah Chilcott, director of Le Trident Barattage (from a 1938 critical-creative review first published in VERBANA, the famed Surrealist art journal)

The translation of a poem by February Eglomise had been floating around the island of Montréal during my undergraduate years in that city; it was entitled ‘A Lifebuoys Merger’ and had to do with the alchemical process—indeed, it was said to have divulged the great secret of tinctures, and by dint of this many believed the poet to have been a student of Jean-Julien Champagne, a.k.a. Fulcanelli. The original from which ‘A Lifebuoys Merger’ had been translated was a document no one could find. It is fitting, then, that a student in anglophone Toronto—at the so-called ‘Divinity School’ (a.k.a.School of ‘Divining-Rods’ qua ‘Plumbing-Techniques’) of Torontos Humber College—plumbed the depths of this mystery and discovered that both the name of the poet (February Eglomise) and the name of the poem (‘A Lifebuoys Merger’) were anagrams of Ambroise LeFurgey (and of course, vice versa). Mike Tulles, Humber Colleges top-notch student of plumbing-techniques, anagrammatized his name and then published his findings under this «nom-de-plumb»—a publication that took the form of the present pseudonymous translation (plus prefatory introduction) of an unanagramatized French poet. In order to disguise his institutional affiliation, he simply added an asterisk-dagger to Humber, creating in so doing Humber† College and its ‘Divinity School’ student Liesl Ketum. Lest it be said that I here break pseudonymies, it should be added that Mike Tulles a.k.a. Liesl Ketum might in fact—in reality—be Ellie Muskt (yet another anagram), and that the latter and all of the former might be the daughter (and/or son) of a certain Maye and Errol, to whose surname another asterisk-dagger was added. The mysteries and mysterious/pseudonymous interconnections go on and on and on. In this space—in the space of these plural/plurifold pseudonymies—let me simply suggest, in fine gnOme_Books fashion, that the translator and translated can be signed (either one) as Space-X.” Dan Mellamphy

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the spiral consilience

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oudeís. the spiral consilience. gnOme. 2016. ISBN-13: 978-1541059979. ISBN-10: 1541059972. 78 pp. $7.00

This chapbook starts by directly addressing humankind’s connection to the vastness of outer space, and sets forth the premise that death (as a permanent state of being) is of the same substance, or soul, as whatever exists outside of the Universe. It then veers off on a tangent into stranger territory, and talks of unnamed worlds, without life yet possessed by some unliving, sentient force, whose spheres have drifted to the most distant regions of outer space; or, more properly, into the nothingness that reigns illimitably outside of space, where it has been speculated that no laws of nature can exist. Gigantic, otherworldly graves abound in rhyming descriptions of lifeless geographies. Monuments, catacombs and buildings, all deserted and of unknown origin, are lyrically narrated into existence deep beneath the surface of the Earth, as well as on and under the surfaces of distant asteroids. Alien cenotaphs resembling something Hugh Ferriss might have sketched from a fever dream are articulated through regular, metered verse. A sinister thread connecting all these massive structures with the aforementioned sentient force, which we are told holds all life and death in its grip, runs through the poems. Hymns to the universe in all its barrenness are juxtaposed with landscapes of horror, all elegantly unscrolled in lurid poetics that are made all the more disturbing by their intentional symmetry. The final poem seems to be a negation of itself, plus all of the other poems in the volume. The book ends with several prose statements of a negative nature concerning the fate of humanity in the Universe.

“Odysseus, in Homer’s Odyssey, plays upon his name—Ou-déis/Ou-tis meaning no-one/no-thing—in order, through nomenclatural disorder (or rather: divisiondivergence), to outwit and outwitness the Cyclops, a creature of singular vision and ultimately also of unbounded blindness. Oudeís, in the spiral consilience, sings a similar siren-song and sets out on a similar voyage, albeit one over the course of which the Ulyssean body, in turn, makes a rather mèticulous U-turn and turns out to be a Mètic Mœbius itself (the Mètic Mœbius stripped Bare by her BachelorsMastersDoctors and Readers). “Time left no corpse but infinite space”: here, in the first words of the spiral consilence, the corpus—the collated collection qua bound book—corporealises out of an excised yet all-the-more exquisite corpse. This excision is, precisely, an exacting and enacted kenosis: an open negation that finds affirmation on the very next page and then onwardon and on, from siren-song to siren-songvoid vocalisation to vocalised void—to the ever-approaching parousia/ousia beyond the vale of the valley of death/revival/regression/recision-and-reclamation. The recitations herein—the{ir} excisionsrecisions, and incantatory reclamations—are those of a rabid iconovore, and each of its devoured figures or forms informs in its deformation and in its devouring the various epitaphs (or rather, chronotaphs: there where time left no corpse but infinite space) of an incomplete whole, of an ongoing hole-complex, full of cross-cutting tunnels as vast as The Great Wall of China: there where they are digging The Pit of Babel qua Garden of Forking Paths (pace Borges and Kafka). Oudeís, in the spiral consilience, engraves in each chronotaph-epitaph—each poetic page—the gist and the widening/planet-wide gyre of the grave-digger, but a grave-digger set adrift on the seas, digging into the tides of today with the oar of Odysseus: that oar of {y}ore which turns out (in yet another Ulyssean U-turn) to be a Golden Rod or Rod of Divination, singing in its Sea-Slicing qua Dowsing-of-the Deep the siren-song of Wor{l}dly Icons and Other Conjurations.” —Dan Mellamphy 

“If God is the tangential point between zero and infinity, the spiral consilience is a reverberant long playing black work of telepathic theology.” — Doktor Faustroll, author of An Ephemeral Exegesis on Crystalline Ebrasions

“My reading of the poems in this book has only confirmed once again that I can no longer respond in any meaningful or robust way to written literature. At this point in my life, I can react only to watching or listening to performances of writing, something that no doubt sounds strange and even pathological to others. Nevertheless it, this is how it is for me. Even my old favorites no longer provoke the interest and emotion they once did. I deeply regret this condition of limitation. I might describe this condition as one of literary anhedonia, likening it to the better known experience of musical anhedonia, from which I also suffer and which I realize is not comprehensible to the majority of individuals. Thus, I must apologize for my inability to offer a blurb to what may very well be a fine book.” —Thomas Ligotti

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The Walk of Absence

WA front smallErba. The Walk of Absence. gnOme, 2016. ISBN-13: 978-0692660454. ISBN-10: 0692660453. 50pp. $6.00.

The apocalypse has already occurred, and we missed it. God is not dead, as Nietzsche or Mahfouz claimed, but he has simply left, as Samuel Beckett shows us. Man now lingers out of inertia, suspended indefinitely in a kind of purgatory between an abandoned heaven and a lukewarm hell—as always, but with no intention of bringing the journey to an end. Is poetry possible in the aftermath of this anticlimactic apocalypse? How to raise the stakes when there is nothing to lose? Can we devise better and more reckless games, now that the director has abandoned the show and the theatre is burned down? Perhaps the post-apocalyptic human will prove even more resilient than his predecessor, precisely because he lacks the will to live or die. And so, many of these poems were written with those in mind whom we did not lose to war, but to indifference, those that were taken not by death, but by the tepid current of everyday life…

In this book of dark verse. Nostalgia, Loss, and Ruin decay in the sweet stink of Love . . . – E. Elias Merhige

“Precise in its effort to provide readers with nothing less than a grid reference map of nowhere, each (poetic) line pointing back to the work’s auto-poetics of absenteeism, this essential collection performs what the ground often does when kicked up by the desolate gusts of a beautiful, insouciant wind.” – Liesl Ketum, Humbert Divinity School

WoA @ goodreads

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Hemisphere Eleven

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N. Hemisphere Eleven. HWORDE, 2016. ISBN-10: 069263147X ISBN-13: 978-0692631478. 86 pp. $6.00

A discontinuous continuation of fallen, unfollowable imperatives, numbering one thousand three hundred and sixty-one.

“A nearly ecstatic exercise in inconsequentiality.” — Oliver Trundle, author of La Montgolfière

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Verses from the Underlands

verses front smallerSubject A. Verses from the Underlands. gnOme, 2016. ISBN-13: 978-0692621578. ISBN-10: 0692621571. 52pp. $6.00.

A collection of the fantastical verses of the suspected serial killer known as Subject A, written during his incarceration in a secure psychiatric facility from 1977 to 1980. The poems, baroque reflections of an alternate eldritch reality referred to as “the Underlands,” give seductive and haunting dimension to the poet’s undisproven claim that he never murdered but only “transfigured” his victims in locations “not to be found on any map of the world.”

Everyone should be aware that there is a strain of poetry that embraces stricken visions, hopelessly so. They should know that there are bibles of verse, Maurice Rollinat’s Les Névroses for instance, that elegantly sing of sick nightmares and thereby critique the wholesome norm. They should be force-fed this knowledge, if only that they might be robbed of some parcel of their contemptible health. Verses from the Underlands excellently contributes to this mission with its revelations of a supernatural malady with neither a cure nor even an earthly diagnosis. – Thomas Ligotti

Some books should be encased in iron and buried in the deepest, blackest hole, never to be read. This is one of them. – Amy Ireland

This collection is a valuable and timely addition to the serial killer literature that has emerged from the madness and malaise of 1970s America. Excellently contextualized by a criminologist of patent accomplishment, it has, however, less in common with the poetic invectives typical of the genre, and more, it would seem, with the lyrical tradition of a simultaneously burgeoning heavy metal culture. Taken collectively, Subject A’s charnel verses constitute something like a concept album that—meticulously detailing the terrain of an illimitable and unbounded nullity—reaffirms, for a new generation, the mutually complicit, blackening enamor of heavy metal and serial killing. Verses from the Underlands is metallic mythopoeia at its finest. – Edia Connole, co-author of Floating Tomb: Black Metal Theory

Outside the grasp of clinical psychology, exceeding the grip of some penal system, and beyond the pale of civilization altogether, the Real is Subject A’s first victim. These verses traverse vast labyrinthine worlds of doom and slaughtered universes where language is left only two choices: to fall silent or turn into a scream. Lucid and deranged, they allow no hiding place or escape into some system of preservation, for nothing will remain untouched here: and all that stands shall fall “in carnage-fields of blood and flames.” – Cergat, author of Earthmare: The Lost Book of Wars

Being someone who generally hates poetry that attempts to beautify life, there is something instantly likable in a poetry that twists life into a dagger aimed at itself. These verses stitch together a Dunsanian dream world, but one made of mortuary cloth. – Ben Woodard, author of Slime Dynamics

Worth buying just for the blurbs. – Nick Land

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The Lost Couplets of Pir Iqbal the Impaled

front cover coupletsThe Lost Couplets of Pir Iqbal the Impaled. Trans. Adrian Xavier. ISBN-13: 978-0692596081. ISBN-10: 0692596089. gnOme, 2015. 38pp. $7.00.

The one whose gaze sets moths aflame
Will not look at me.
So blackened is my hanging corpse,
So deformed the tree.

There is little record of the life of the Albanian poet known as Pir Iqbal the Impaled. The survival of his verses is due to Hilmi Abdyl Maliqi (1856-1928) of Rahovec, who considered them worthy of transcription into the small notebook discovered in 1999 by Prof. Nikoll Krasniqi of the University of Priština. There Maliqi writes of him: “Iqbal was a solitary dervish, originally from Sharra in Tirana, who in his later years dwelled among the caves near the ruined Christian hermitage and monastery at Koriša. As a young man he joined a tekke in Gjakova, but was expelled for unknown reasons. In middle age he led a largely itinerant life, travelling as far Istanbul, Cairo, and Rome, during which period he had contact with Naim Frashëri, who mentions him with regard in the preface to Gjithësia [Omneity], published in Bucharest in 1895 by the Shoqëri e të shtypuri shkronja shqip (Society for the Publication of Albanian Writing). In 1896, he suffered a mental collapse in Skopje and was later identified by Haxhi Ymer Lutfi Paçarizi as ‘mast-Allah’ [God-intoxicated]. His couplets, though heterodox, were known by mouth in the region, mostly among the Melami Sufis of Kosova and Macedonia. After the revolt in 1910, Iqbal publicly renounced Islam at Priština during the visit of Sultan Mehmed V in 1911. The following year, he converted to Christianity and was impaled for apostasy in Prizren. The people of the district, however, regarded his apostasy as false, a perverse expression of his spiritual intoxication (sakr). Thus, after his death, in honor of his mystical inspirations (waridat), he became known as Pir Iqbal the Impaled. The dervish’s soul is lost. By the grace of Allah, his lines are not.” Given the directness and crude gracefulness of Iqbal’s style, his verses present few problems for the translator. To convey something of his rhythm in English, I have split his couplets into stanzas of four-lines. We hope the reader will find them utile et dulce. (from the translator’s Preface)

I fly the seas of dreams for you,
I swim all the skies.
And nowhere do you appear, not
Even in your eyes.

“It is either by senseless fate or by profound happenstance that these poems have survived their author. Iqbal, the enigmatic, ascetic dervish has left behind lines that are instructions for bewilderment. These couplets reduce mystical writing to its brutalist minimum. Only practice remains.” ~ Rasu-Yong Tugen, Baroness de Tristeombre, author of Songs From The Black Moon

“An essential document in the sorrow of being.” ~ Nicola Masciandaro, author of Ocean Seeping Eyes

“As the tablet gives lift to its own effacement, so too do these ingots of darkness mysticism render in concise, passionate flashes the continual fluxing destruction and reconstitution at the heart of a yearning spirit’s divine ordeal.” – Levi Rumata, author of Scrims

“‘I am love-wounded past repair, / Yet still babble on. / Tis no longer I who speak, but / My severed head’s tongue.’ The Lost Couplets is a deep simultaneous plunge into the possibility of poetry beyond the page and the impossibility of knowledge without sorrow. Be prepared to abandon your desires by listening to the couplets of Pir Iqbal from the mouth of Adrian Xavier; and watch the verses perform a Sufi whirling before your weeping eyes.” ~ Eleni Ikoniadou, author of The Rhythmic Event

“Not since Annabella of Ely has a poet so succinctly and masterfully penned the spiraling path to annihilative bliss. Read Pir Iqbal and be destroyed. Being destroyed, may you live forever.” ~ Liesl Ketum, Humbert Divinity School

LCPII @ goodreads

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Earthmare

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Cergat. Earthmare: The Lost Book of Wars. gnOme, 2017. ISBN-10: 0692841083. ISBN-13: 978-0692841082. 280pp. $18.00

In mid-October 1997, two clay tablets marked in wedge-shaped signs, were discovered inside a cave in the Accursed Mountains in Albania. The local shepherds who found them, took the artifacts to their pastor, an amateur linguist and folklore aficionado, who at first glance identified the cuneiform writing as Sumerian. He visited the discovery site and found several other fragments prompting him to further continue his search. In the winter months from November 1997 to February 1998, four more tablets were put together out of thirty-seven fragments collected in the interior of the cave. Six fragments (frgs. 2, 5, 18, 13, 27, 9) did not match any of the partially restored tablets, suggesting that more pieces may lay hidden deeper into the cave. These were not discovered until the end of September 1998, when a landslide revealed a separate cave pocket, enclosing a wooden ark adding three more tablets to the collection.

Clearly, the artifacts did not belong to the local culture. Their scattered condition suggested that similar earlier landslides might have caused loose tree-roots and mud to close part of the cave off from its mouth. As the texts have only been partially translated, it is as yet unknown whether the last three pieces made up the full set of the original tablets. Most of what we know comes from the notes of the pastor, who for nearly ten years worked in isolation to decipher a good part of the scripts from a language he initially believed to be the original Indo-European, but subsequently identified as the lost language of the Pelasgians. In a later note, he writes that this was a mixed language, reminiscent of Odysseus’s description of Crete, where many barbarian tongues were spoken side by side and mingled with one another (Hom. Od. xix. 172-8). After decoding the cuneiform, he translated their texts into Albanian, trying to keep as close to the original as possible. What emerged was another version of Genesis, a creation  full of strife the pastor called “the lost book of wars.”

Dating back to c. 1400-1100 bc, the tablets are among the oldest apocrypha materials ever found. They are as well of particular interest not only for their content, but also for the unusual site of their discovery. Following recent archaeological finds revealing the Philistines to be only one of a conglomerate of tribes that fought against God’s chosen people (see e.g., Bierling 2002), these ancient warriors have been conjectured to be the ones who brought the tablets from Israel.

In his description of the Sea People pirate alliance, Ramesses II (c. 1285 bc) names some of these tribes, among them the Dardanians (Da-ar-d(a)-an-ya), who, after attacking Egypt, turned their attention to Israel. As it is well known, these were Aeneas’s people, the Trojans’ allies in the war. In ancient times, however, there was also a Dardanian kingdom in present-day Kosovo, likely one of the several colonies of that branch of the Dardanian tribe that traveled westward after the sack of Troy. The pastor came to consider these people as the possible carriers of the ark and the cuneiform tablets.

Assuming that this might be what Israel called the Ark of the Covenant, which was lost to the Philistines in the wars described in 1 Samuel, the warriors who buried its contents in the Accursed Mountains may well be the ones referred to in the Bible as the giants, Goliath and company. These are the mythical giants north of Greece (ancient Gr. gegas), whose demonym still survives in the Gheg tribes of northern Albania.

“This is a truly fascinating, singular work that carves our descent into unknown ‘Earthmare’ terrain. A dark combination of daring and brilliance guides us here, through vast territories of consciousness and vision (those of the barbarian, the exile, the sea people). A book like no other.” — Jason Mohaghegh, author of The Chaotic Imagination: New Literature and Philosophy of the Middle East

“Earthmare documents a wound around/inside a hole, a hole both excavated by God and indiscernible from him, a hole the universe crawled out of in spite of itself, deranged, demonic, cancerous, riddled with paradox, coated in etymological layers of increasingly rarefied and scarified tissue. An encyclopedic drop of poison in the void. A book about beginnings and of beginnings that is beguilingly and honestly lost for any credible place to start, which is exactly where it finds itself.” — Gary J. Shipley, author of The Face Hole

“Tearing open the wound of the Beginning, Earthmare installs within each who reads it a unique secret protocol for never having been. As light as it is deep, occult as it is clear, unsettling as it is consoling, the work also charts a new ancient home for intellectual practice, one that might be provisionally designated philological horrotics (cf. Pseudo-Dionysius, Lovecraft). If ever there were, for lack of better words, a noetic intersection of Agamben, Negarestani, and Cioran, as perforce there always already is, this is it—at least for now. Archaeology of the incognitum hactenus, the trouble with being torn . . . To read Earthmare properly is to have a palpably better chance of discovering what it means to escape the future the only way possible: by altering the past.” — Nicola Masciandaro, co-author of Spheresy 1693

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