A great deal in Rees-Jones’ “Erato” is prose, plain and simple. Some of it may be very lyrical and ‘poetic’, but it’s still prose. And it looks like prose; and you read it like prose. There are also some good poems too, the quality of some of the imagery unquestionable.
And because of that – and because the prose parts are stimulating, intelligent, even beautiful, I can actually forgive it being prose. If you read it for what it is, and don’t get hung up about it – which I usually do, of course.
What is harder to forgive is a ‘poem’ where every word has a line through it; every word except the title.
So what does that make it then? A non-poem? Something that disqualifies itself, that you couldn’t possibly read out loud? Is the message that, even though it’s a poem, its language is somehow inadequate? Or all language is inadequate?
And what about a poem/prose that has huge chunks blacked out, redacted? This redacting is also the subject of the poem in a way, so the poem interrogates itself even as it makes itself… Clever, sure; poetic? Clever…
“Erato” is a little bit challenging, and you know what?, even with all that prose, on balance I liked it.