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Philip Meersman's Review of In the Dark, Soft Earth

The poetry in In the Dark, Soft Earth are like paintings made by the avant-gardes of the 19th and early 20th century.
This collection of poems could as well be a series of texts in an exhibition catalogue of a museum dedicated to the avant-garde. The paintings in the book form a welcome visual pause to the condensed language screaming for attention on the white page.
In this collection the poet has observed the techniques of the avant-garde movements through a magnifying glass and reproduced them.
The symbolism used shows a restrained sensuality which is breathtaking in moments. The book is an observation of an era on the brink of a historical landslide captured in stills. Sometimes the poetry is being nostalgic, longing of a bygone time frame, at other moments it is eager to burst into sound or image but sticks restrained to the page, chained by the written aspect of language.
The reader is taken onto a journey back into time to the roaring twenties on the crossroads of symbolism, surrealism, romanticism, Dada, futurism… where satanic rites, sensuality, new ideas and forms collide with tradition and where an inner dragon of violence is rumbling to be freed.
In book one, Within the Weeping Woods, the poet, muze and poetry are forces of nature, in which language has romantic trysts.
The words interact on an intimate level and it is to the reader to fill in the next steps. This book entices the reader to venture into the wild for long meditative hikes enjoying purity.
In book two: Between Time and Space, the poet folds time inside out to reflect on multiple parallel histories stretched through time.
In Book three: Assembly Required: language is reduced to the essence and the the writer mesmerizes about his muze. Contrasting ideas are merged into condensed wisdom, which makes this book very quotable.
In Book four: Percussion Mind: The little tableaux of jazz crave for a club soundscape to be read aloud at.
In Book five: A Dance between the Light: from musical esthetics this book revolves around several gastro-esthetic experiences.
In Book six: Beneath the Raven Moon: dark forces have infiltrated the poetry and it seems if pagan rituals and psychoanalysis have had hand in writing the poetry. The sensuality has become more overt and the reader feels the restrained being stretched to its limits. The dark side of lust and love are gently taking over from sensitive nature observations. There is almost a physical feeling of violent cravings present.
In Book seven: Omens: in this part of the book, death is omnipresent, as a result of war, violence and it summarizes what has been a voyage through the emotional undercurrents of the avant-gardes resulting into war and apocalyptic surroundings.
In Book eight: An Entrance to the Tarot Garden: In this book the voice of a fortune teller describing the Tarot cards picked by the poet sounds like a death bell of historical depictions hoping the Pre-Raphaelites will return. I would challenge the reader to start reading book eight first and continue with the chronology given by the author, because there are many paths // she could have walked // and yet the only one // is the one she takes.
In Book nine: Across the Continents: the inspiration seems to come from linguistic readings rather than visual incentives.
In Book ten: Stories Before I Sleep: the reader finds him/herself within the reflections of a world beautified by the poet as if he wants to chase away the apocalyptic nightmares earlier on the page spread out.
 

Philip Meersman

Brussels based Belgian multilingual poet/performer Philip Meersman pushes boundaries of poetry in both written and spoken form, drawing on current affairs, sociopolitical and environmental issues. His poems range from narrative and traditional form to directives for performance pieces, to concrete studies of sound, individual words and even letters themselves. He performs his work and teaches avant-garde, visual and performance poetry worldwide. His poetry is translated into more than 15 languages. Co-founder of several art-poetry-music-performance groups, member of the Akademia Zaum, curator of Brussels Planetarium Poetry Fest and coordinator of the European and Worldwide Network of Poetry Slam Championships. Meersman studied Archeology and Art History in Brussels and is currently doing a PhD in the Arts at the Royal Academy of Arts in Antwerp researching visual poetry, its performance strategies based upon the writings of René Magritte, Velimir Chlebnikov and the Russian Cubo-Futurists transformed into virtual reality.
In 2014 he published “This is Belgian Chocolate: Manifestations of Poetry” (Three Rooms Press, NY, NY, USA, ISBN: 9781941110010)
In 2020 he will publish a new poetry book “There Is Blue Somewhere” with the Indian publisher Cyberwit in Allahabad

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