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MOCK TROUGH RASPING CROW review in Litter Magazine (UK)

 
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Steve Spence

"Mock Trough Rasping Crow" by Billy Cancel. 104 pp. Pub. BlazeVOX Books. ISBN: 978-1-60964-293-8

 I first came across billy cancel (or Will Morris/Billy Asbo as he was then known) in Plymouth some years back as he was a regular at Language Club events for some time when he lived in the South West before he moved to New York. I was very impressed with his work ‘on the page’ and with his live performances which were something special. Whatever ‘it’ is he had and clearly still has it in abundance. I was slightly surprised then to discover that despite sending his work to magazines very little of it seemed to be getting into print. Things move on and we lost contact until quite recently when I discovered that he’s been publishing and performing on a regular basis and following a series of chapbooks his first full-length publication (108 pages) is now up-and-running. And what a collection it is!

Mock Trough Rasping Crow is a book in eight sections. Each poem is twenty lines long and each includes a title, emboldened and in italic, as either the opening line or a section of the opening line, eg:  ‘in the event of fire we will all hang out   same way   we tolerate’. The visual element of these individual pieces is important as they look splendid, perched on the page in their varying shapes and layouts. They remind me of what I experienced when I first looked at J.H. Prynne’s Collected Poems, for example, and are also reminiscent, visually, of the poetry of Christopher Brownsword, another fascinating, under-recognised poet. The cover artwork – also by cancel – is a beautiful mix of colour, shape and text, a collage which combines the aesthetic with the everyday, an aspect which I’m sure the late Tom Raworth would have appreciated, as he would have appreciated the poetry enclosed within the book’s covers. I mention this because I can recall seeing Will read at the Language Club on an occasion when Raworth was the main guest reader and Raworth in his down-to-earth and amiable way, being very impressed with Will’s material. 

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