The strongest attributes of Failsal Mohyuddin’s “The Displaced Children of Displaced Children” combine to create a kind of calm, reflective tone; one which suits his excursions into history and place. The poems are, in part, political, familial, intensely personal; and some of their imagery is almost casually excellent.
Having said that, some of the poems aren’t poems at all, but essentially prose – or prose where they structure has been ‘decomprosed‘ to make them look like poetry. This doesn’t work for me: they still read like prose.
Also, a small number of the poems are so fractured that it appears as if the words can’t bear to be on the same page as each other, or if there, need to be separated by at least one or two tabs or lines. One poem is even printed in landscape. WHY??
I find myself increasingly wondering if poets chose these self-conscious experiments with visual structure and form as (the only?) a way to invest something unique in their work. There is a suspicion, in my mind at least, that in some cases they do so to cover up inadequacies in the poems themselves.
Increasingly belligerent, I have decided, from now on, not even to attempt reading any poems whose structure shouts out self-consciously, or is plainly trying to just be ‘smart’. Varying structure (visual, on a page) is fine, but it needs to be done for a reason, and because doing so adds to the words, not as a mechanism of detracting (and distracting!) from them.