edited by D.J. Tyrer
38 Pierrot Steps
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This page last updated: 1st September 2009.
From their web site Atlantean Publishing called for submissions in order to create a booklet of mainly poems where history diverged naturally, although they were prepared to consider time travel or weird events on merit. Any era, any degree of divergence, any where... (to paraphrase from their own blurb).
The result is this inexpensively produced, 10 page chapbook containing 10 poems. Two pieces are written by the editor and three by the renowned poet Steve Sneyd.
All the work, as the title suggests, is about possible alternative histories. The editorial (or is it a full page prose-poem?) entitled MIGHT HAVE BEENS, sets the scene with an alternative view of the recent war with Iraq. It has been skilfully written, moving from actual facts to projected fiction and then creating a totally different future.
Other topics include Hitler and the Second World War (naturally enough), the Battle at Bosworth Field, Mongols not sacking Rome, the Alamo and Queen Boudicca. All ten pieces are technically sound but some lack depth or feeling, as this extract from WHAT IFS by Dirk Holland demonstrates:
Of course, that's now my son's own claim Eva and I are retired.Totally the opposite may be said of the three poems by Steve Sneyd. While each is very long (thus neatly filling these pages), they are technically excellent, topically well informed and take us right to the heart of each character-based alt. history. This, I believe, is about Boneparte and beautifully informs us about his physical pain. It's from THE PASS OF GLORY:
Mechanically the exposed arm continues laying on whiplashes to keep torn beast moving. Equally without thought the other arm's hand goes on rubbing at pain inside so usefully distracts from ache of hunger.FAITHFUL TO FAMILY OBLIGATION is the poem about Bosworth field and rightly takes up the centre spread. It is written in the persona of King Richard III, is set after the battle and is addressed to his two nephews. In reality, Richard is suspected of having his nephews suffocated. He died at Bosworth Field on August 22, 1485:
what is it you ask? A hump to go on a back whose back you ask? To go on my backVery clever piece of work here. Sneyd is telling of a fake hump, reputedly attached to his body after death which fed the villainy attributed to Richard by his most famous detractor, William Shakespeare. Shakespeare describes Richard in the following way: unfinished, a lump of foul deformity, inhuman, unnatural, misshapen, with a dissembling nature...
In Sneyd's telling, the fake hump is discovered after the battle and here, it is repeatedly used as an allegory about the weight and burden of monarchs, something, in time, Richard will hand on to his nephews. Clear and powerful work...and had these events happened in reality, they would definitely have unlocked a totally Alternative History.
|reviewer: Steve Anderson.|