A Silent Occupation: Review of On The Side of the Crow Reaches New Pertinance
In the wake of the removal of the Occupy encampment from St Pauls, Nikolai Duffy's review of the 'silent occupation' in Gholson's On the Side of the Crow reaches a new depth of pertinance.
On the Side of the Crow is a prose poetry collection by Christien Gholson, published by Parthian in 2011. Duffy describes how "...a number of the poems in the collection revolve around the fictional character Mae Sistore, a radical poet wanted by the FBI, who, through word and weave, repeatedly aims to inspire a silent revolution [...] In a blog post for Parthian, Gholson has written how Sistore ‘could have been my antidote to the frustration I felt over the complacency that had settled over America during the Nineties. A massive vigil of silence seemed more powerful than any slogan I could come up with.’
"As the collection develops – and in the wake of Sistore’s softly insistent example – people begin, simply, to gather together, to collect on the streets of capitals across America but doing so, crucially, without holding up signs or chanting slogans or making demands. This is a silent occupation and, as one of poems early on in the collection puts it, ‘Silence can be an empty white room with closed windows or it can be a rock dropped through a canyon’s shadow.’ In their own ways, both have the potential to challenge and change."
The whole review is available on The Literateur website (http://literateur.com/a-silent-occupation-christien-gholsons-on-the-side...). Duffy goes on to speak generally about the collection: "This isn’t to say that this is the only focus of Gholson’s collection. There are other stories and other narratives here, self-contained, tangential, which neither blend nor clash with this recurrent focus. And as Gholson has written, the original intention behind the book was ‘for it to be like a walk through a gallery – but a moving gallery, a gallery without walls, a gallery of stories rising from the faces I passed every day on the street.’ As a result, each narrative in the collection has a subtitle which signposts a work of visual art (‘Oil in the Manner of Edward Hopper,’ for example, or ‘An Aquatint Etching in the Manner of Goya’s Caprices’). For all that, though, there is often a curious disconnect between the artistic reference and the narratives which follow and it’s this deceptive disconnect which, for me, strikes the most interesting chord in the collection."
These are just a few excerpts from a beautifully written and deeply thoughtful review, well worth reading for its examination of the unusual form and exploration of Christien's influences.
Christien continues to reap rave reviews for his debut novel A Fish Trapped Inside the Wind, also published by Parthian in 2011. In the words of Steve Donoghue "we should all band together and make this author famous". Reviewers for both Christien's poetry and prose writing have been astonished at the quality and depth of his debut publications. Both On the Side of the Crow and A Fish Trapped Inside the Wind are available in the Parthian online bookshop.