Music for broken instruments
Black Rider Press
Music for broken instruments, an e-book by Melbourne writer A.S. Patric, has already been endorsed by a formidable group of writers and poets, including Aural Text’s Alicia Sometimes, and Page Seventeen’s Tiggy Johnson. Reading the collection, this comes as no surprise.
Each page of the book has been beautifully typeset by Black Rider Press, against their trademark olde worlde crumple-watermarked pages in typewriter font. The tactility of the collection is frustrating, in part, for a digitally delivered book: Music for broken instruments begs to be printed on thick recycled paper, ribbon-bound and covered in leather or cloth for those winter afternoons with blanket, cat and cocoa. On the other hand, the aesthetics of the book cleverly serve as an enticement to press print.
Patric, a widely published prose writer whose work has previously appeared in publications such as Quadrant, Page Seventeen, Overland and Etchings, has often declared prose to be his first love, and indeed there are several poems in this first collection in which this ongoing affair is evident. The narrator in ‘Public Places’, for example, with his self-examination and rhetoric, could very successfully be escorted into first-person short story territory.
Patric’s poetry is at its best when the writer commits to form and style: when we see A.S. Patric The Poet in his element, structure and safeguards thrown to the wind. The otherworldly surrealism of ‘A Lover in Fortuna’ is a particular victory, the astonishing juxtaposition of images threaded together with extraordinary ease:
First thing I’m going to do is grow me a Friedrich Nietzsche moustache / and then I’m going to hunt down all the men dressed in bear suits… / …I just don’t know which way is up inside the cardboard packing box…
Elsewhere in Music for broken instruments, Patric brings this magic imagery to the every day. In ‘King Hit’, he conjures prisons only mice escape from, a coffee cup skull and an old man dancing like a king. In the poem ‘We of the Synchronised Yawns’, destiny becomes the train that leaves at 3.13am in the station of your mind. Each image is a wonder in and of itself.
Such is the beauty of Music for broken instruments: poems sit within poems, which crouch within poems, devouring poems. Ambitious, perhaps, for a writer who has not previously published much poetic work, but for the most part Patric’s grasp is as strong as his reach.
‘We publish like thieves in the night’ is the Black Rider Press mantra, and so captivating is Patric’s wordplay that one is unaware the intruder has visited until the house is all but empty.
This post has been cross-posted from slamup.