The less frenetic poems in Monkey Soap were made with words, phrases and sentences that Glen Downie pulled from, among other things, a treatise on gourmandism, a penmanship manual, a handyman’s guide, a couple of fashion advice books and dialogue from film noir. There’s something about the poetic arrangement of otherwise mundane instructions, dialogue or advice that, for a fleeting moment opens our minds to the possibility that we may have discovered a guiding principle that we didn’t know we had been seeking. Then we smile and chuckle and move on.
The bossy poems in What the World Said by Jason Camlot instruct us more emphatically as they tell us to “Be jubilant!” “Count!” “Fight!” “Study!” “Don’t guess,” “Never ride the bus” and “Divide the sadness period into time.” Death and hell come along too, as does some more cheerful wordplay. You’ll need to get over your first rebellious reaction to being told what to do (and there, I’m telling you what to do!) so that, with repeated readings, you’ll come to appreciate the depth of the writing.