Taking its name from a poem by American surrealist Ted Joans, Rubber Orchestras is an energetic, sensuous and intriguing collection of poems, written over a period of four years with an (as yet) undisclosed method of composition the writer calls Liminalism. This collection was selected from 100 poems written using this method. This is the poets’ most radical work so far, in parts psychedelic, surrealist but always engaging.
This is an experimental collection but only in the sense that poetry should always be a means of searching out the gaps and crevices of language. Each reader will have a different experience of these poems.
The book is divided into three sections: Precious and Impossible — a selection of poems influenced in subject and style by calypso and Jazz. The Colony of Light — poems concerning Caribbean history and society. And Grotesquerie, in which there are darker, more obscure poems.
Apart from the influence of Ted Joans’s surrealism, the resonance of Bob Kaufman, Will Alexander, Ira Cohen, and Caribbean poets such as Derek Walcott and Kamau Brathwaite can be felt throughout. It contains all the trademarks which have informed Joseph’s work for the past decade; the blending of syncopated caribbean rhythms with surrealism and the sensual, painstaking attention to each phrase. With this volume Joseph returns to the exciting experimentalism of his landmark collection Teragaton.
This is a unique text, suggesting a new way of writing but perhaps also, a new way of reading.
This is the fourth collection from Anthony Joseph after Desafinado in 1994, Teragaton in 1997 and Bird Head Son, 2009.
‘Anthony Joseph’s poems are sonic, impressionistic and vivid, like scrapings taken by a forensic scientist from the scene of an experience, like specimens collected by a botanist in a jar. They are rare things to be wondered at.
Through these poems, the reader encounters the smells, sounds and politics of the Caribbean. Part linguistic acrobat, part jazz musician, he writes in 3D; he writes with curiosity and 21st century innovation. This is modernist writing which draws on the same free speaking tradition and freedom of expression that gave birth to calypso.
Anthony Joseph is an important voice. He belongs to a New Generation of writers and poets writing about the region.’ —Monique Roffey
‘Anthony Joseph is a painter who uses words to capture the magic of Mona Lisa’s smile. This colony of light is beauty as mystery and innovation; is song as prayer and Creole food; is poetry as a surreal rendition of steel pan. I have waited a long time for this wonderful book to land, and if I am not mistaken, Rubber Orchestra is The Mighty Sparrow’s hip-hop album.’ —Ronnie McGrath
‘What is delightfully striking about Rubber Orchestras is the confidence behind these poems that bound and bend to a music brimming with jazz energy, bop adventure and calypso musings in an explosion of imagery that links Curacao, Haiti, Trinidad — the Caribbean — and Nigeria, Venezuela and the Andes to North America, stick-fighters and devil-mas, guitars, stilt-walkers and carnival: centres of rebellion and centres of worship, all expressive of the religion that uplifts us from anguish and death as we feel our way in this ceremony of our becoming.’ —Earl Lovelace
‘This major collection firmly establishes Anthony Joseph’s reputation amongst international masters of surrealism. Continuing to explore formally innovative processes evoking multiple cultures, artistic media, times and places, Joseph disappears into the language of his new poems with impressive subtlety and control.’ —Dr Lauri Ramey
‘He is an exceptional talent.’ —Blake Morrison
‘Possessing or possessed by requisite bearings, language and lore, Anthony Joseph is fully and beautifully up to the task.’ —Nathaniel Mackey
‘The leader of the Black avant-garde.’ —Ilkley Literature Festival