ABOUT OUR MICROREVIEWS
At Osmosis, our reviewers are encouraged to respond to and review work creatively. The only formal limitation is a word count guide of 250 words. Short, sweet and with a little bite. We see reviews as a chance to converse, whether that’s about form, creative practice, ideas or language. Interested in reviewing with us? Contact our Reviews Editor, Jayd Green.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Emblem, by Lucy Mercer. Available for purchase here. Published by Prototype.
MICROREVIEW BY CD BOYLAND
Early in Lucy Mercer’s Emblem, in the poem ‘Rossalia’, the reader encounters a reference to a “Palace of Dreams of the Red Siècle” – a reference which gestures intentionally or otherwise towards the titular Tabir Sarrail of Ismail Kadare’s novel. Much like that eponymous dream palace, Emblem constructs an edifice both towering and hidden from small and diverse human matter[s] – a child’s “orange cat torch”, a stone angel, a “drinking cup with two ears” or Gozzoli’s frescoes. Though “constructed” is maybe too organised and hierarchical a word for these poems, which follow the kind of hyper-linearity most often experienced in dreams. Each linearity successively pierces the textual order from a new direction, exposing and revealing layers of meaning and emotional truth.
Another palace invoked by Emblem might be the mnemonic ‘memory palace’ or ‘method of loci’ – the ancient technique for memory enhancement devised by the ancient Greeks. This structure feels most present when Mercer speaks of motherhood, sometimes with simple, unadorned vérité, elsewhere with the twisting, animal logic of fables. In ‘WestWorld’, as her son “sleeps like a peach stone”, both methods meet and are woven together with delirious effect. Emblem’s closing section, though, resists all imaginings of architectural scale being a sequence of texts and images beautifully strung together like jewelled symbolic beads. By its end, Mercer’s 21st century emblemata has delivered entirely on the intent expressed in Alciato’s preface to his own – where he offers his emblems as “paper gifts” delivered as a “token of my love”.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
CD Boyland is a [d]eaf poet who lives in Cumbernauld; near Glasgow and whose work has been widely published in a variety of journals, magazines and anthologies. His pamphlets are: ‘User Stories’ (Stewed Rhubarb, 2020) and ‘Vessel’ (Red Squirrel, 2022). A first collection of experimental/visual poetry (‘Smc_’) is forthcoming with Steel Incisors and his debut, full-length collection of poems will be published by Blue Diode in 2023. Twitter: @chrisdboyland Also via Scottish Book Trust.