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Saturday, January 12, 2013

New Review of SHIKIBU SHUFFLE ...

from the ottawa poetry newsletter

review by  Mark Frutkin

"In Shikibu Shuffle, two poets, Andrew Burke from Australia and Phil Hall from Perth, (who won the Governor General’s Award for Poetry for his fascinating book, Killdeer) have collaborated to produce a collection of fifteen poems based on the five-line form used by the Japanese poet, Murasaki Shikibu (973-1014). Each poem here is ten lines long (with a few variations). It’s difficult, if not impossible, to determine who wrote what, and exactly how the process worked. In any case, the result is a kind of medieval Japanese jazz with a flowing series of riffs that sometimes connect and sometimes don’t. The musical play here reminds me somewhat of Jack Kerouac’s Mexico City Blues (which was influenced more by hardcore jazz than what we now consider the blues). There’s a vibrancy and freedom to the images and their links here, in this back and forth ‘shuffle’, and sometimes the results are striking: “a Chinese dragon of smoke / wearing my dead friend’s clothes / above the marina” or “pale cuticle” (for the moon), or the exceedingly strange and suggestive “to weave submerged antlers / breathing blue at their tips”. This is a collection that can be read more than twice."

Shikibu Shuffle is available now from above / ground press - To order, send cheques (add $1 for postage; outside Canada, add $2) to: rob mclennan, 402 McLeod St #3, Ottawa ON K2P 1A6 or paypal at

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