01 March 2006

The Stewart Trane

Jeremy Stewart is a young Prince George Renaissance man; he is an accomplished painter, photographer, rock/folk musician, and poet. He is genuine and ambitious and provides a lot of energy to the Prince George arts scene.

Stewart’s new chapbook, Interstellar Trane, is an improvised long poem response to a jazz recording by John Coltrane and Rashied Ali called Interstellar Space. The c-book is 8 ½ x 8 ½ with a black cover and grey text stock. The title and author are printed across a highly pixilated image that could be space, or a man playing a trumpet, or any number of things. The title and author print seem to be emerging from a gap or space in the lighter image.

The long poem is in two long sections and formally depends on a prose stanzagraphs, subtle bold selections, and unconventional punctuation such a slashes. Stewart occasionally breaks into lined poetry which does not stick to the left margin. This freedom of form, which may have been mistaken for a lack of poetic rigour in other writing, perfectly matches Stewart’s project and subject matter. I write “subject matter” loosely because the improvisational nature of Stewart’s work takes him into a variety of fragmented, libidinal, and free-flowing realms of thought: “unconscious production becomes the only possible virtue of any writer.” Stewart ranges from fairly lyrical description of walking in PG and listening to Coltrane to much more surreal, operatic passages. At one point late in the poem Stewart pleads “don’t mourn for the opening up of form.”

Within the formal play there is a relentless stream of quick poetic paradoxes, puns, and pirouettes: “lighting fire on fire with lightning.” This makes the poem seem quite chaotic, cacophonic, but this obviously is a tribute to the musical source—Coltrane’s mad crescendos matched by literary ones.

Stewart’s originality is undeniable and his formal freedom is impressive in such a young writer. It bodes well for the future even though I know he wants it to happen now.


At 5:23 PM, Blogger denielle said...

mm hm. fantastic chapbook. and if you ever get a chance to hear him read it - even better!


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