Thursday, 4 June 2015

Review: 'Dawn of the Algorithm' by Yann Rousselot

Dawn of the AlgorithmI don't read a lot of poetry. And when I do it tends to be old school poetry, with its strict rules and rhyme meters which I have to analyse for University. It was, then, with hesitation that I requested Dawn of the Algorithm, but I'm very glad I did. Rousselot shows that modern poetry can feel classic. Thanks to Netgalley and Inkshares for providing me with a copy of this collection in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Pub. Date: 12/05/2015
Publisher: Inkshares
Dawn of the Algorithm is a bestiary. Yann Rousselot’s poems are characters, twisted mirror-images of their creator, at once atavistically stupid and artificially intelligent. 
These monsters were born and bred on Planet Pop Culture, raised on a diet of TV tropes, movie clichés, book snippets, and video game storylines. Some have beating hearts, others interlocking mechanical parts. They are forces of human nature, genetically engineered with a single purpose: to herald the apocalypse. 
Rousselot paints a darkly comical portrait of humankind, a species plagued by heartbreak and alienation, yet driven by hope and, at the very core, a burning desire to connect.
Our resident aliens, octosharks, algorithms, mecha-robots, pathogens, and kaiju (to name a few) will be very happy to make your acquaintance. 
Please do not feed the zombies.
This is what poetry for the twenty-first century is supposed to read like. Rousselot writes poetry which is suffused by our popular culture, our technology and our world. Although this lends itself to the danger that Dawn of the Algorithm will be very dated in only a couple of years, for now it is stunning and a lot of fun. Whether it is references to action stars such as Schwarzenegger and Jean Claude van Damme or our love for our cell phones, every reader is bound to recognize something in Rousselot's poems which will capture his attention. Much of literary fiction seems to overlook popular culture, passing it off as being low brow and unworthy of attention. Rousselot sees its potential and uses it to his advantage, creating stunning poems such as 'The Moreau Zoo'.

Although I said above that I don't read a lot of poetry, I definitely know when poetry is to my liking. Poetry, in my opinion, must have above everything, rhythm and style. If a reader can't "feel" a poem, there is nothing to set it apart. It is what, for example, makes 'Phenomenal Woman' by Maya Angelou such an amazing poem, it can be felt when read. I found myself having the same feeling while reading some of Rousselot's poems. There was a snappiness to them, something that felt like a knowing on Rousselot's side which made the reader desperate to be "in on it". His rhymes flow well, despite his words being beautifully complex. Any poet that casually use 'bioluminescent' deserves my respect, especially if the word doesn't feel out of place.

One of my favourite poems was 'Stranger Danger'. Not only is it an example of a great title which is such a familiar phrase and thereby works against the reader, but I also loved the themes in it. Rousselot, as said above, riffs off a lot of popular culture. In 'Stranger Danger' Rousselot makes sly references to everything 'under the sea', potentially subtly playing on Disney's The Little Mermaid while addressing the original fairy tales' darker themes of distress and the need for companionship. At times, however, I was hoping for a lighter poem to come around. Each poem, no matter how seemingly light, had a serious undertone which meant that as a whole Dawn of the Algorithm is rather dark, if in a funny way. If this is not your type of poetry, this collection probably isn't for you.

The illustrations in this collection are an interesting bunch. At times they fit the mood perfectly, at others they are strange works of art themselves.  The illustrations were provided by a whole range of artists, which means that there is not a distinct similarity between all of them. However, despite this, they all seem to fit the dark tone of the collection and add to the feel of Dawn of the Algorithm.

I give this collection...

3 Universes!

I enjoyed Dawn of the Algorithm a lot. Rousselot's poetry has an eloquence which is belied by the seeming ease with which the poems flow. Poetry can be modern and reference the twenty-first century without losing any of its elegance and style. I'd recommend this collection to anyone with a desire to get into poetry, although this is not for the Dr. Seuss-lovers among you!

No comments:

Post a Comment