Touch the Donkey
Poetry zine, rob mclennan (editor), issue 10, above/ground press, touchthedonkey.blogspot.ca, $6
This tenth issue of Touch the Donkey — editor rob mclennan’s ongoing attempt to “engage with more experimental and avant-garde poetry” — presents a noticeably diverse group, both in substance and style.
Meredith Quartermain recounts a painful breast exam. Renée Sarojini Saklikar contributes a number of enigmatic, bee-centric poems excerpted from thecanadaproject, her “life-long poem chronicle about place, identity, language.” Shane Rhodes supplies poems built from phrases found in the journals of nautical expeditions. Luke Kennard spits out cascading, verbose verses that often read like spoken-word rants: “The realization fell like trochees, like a burlap sack of tchotchkes.”
The most rewarding entries in this collection come from Mathew Timmons. His first submission is two and a half pages of text that reads like the transcript of a yoga instructor’s motivational speeches. His second is a poem that finds innumerable ways to describe sundresses being shopped for online: “Detect those charismatic despicable sundresses online… Gravy those indomitable pitiful sundresses online.” Each line of this poem is capped with a curious four-digit code, which may conceal some deeper meaning, should you care to try and crack it, for example: “fRhC; Zlzk; xHmr.”
Though there’s no particular mood or theme that ties this issue’s poems together, they consistently find a satisfying balance between modernity and mystery. (Scott Bryson)