Sunday, October 17, 2010

Alice at R’lyeh

By Murray Ewing

I’m a big fan of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (though sometimes I wonder if one of the reasons I’m a fan is because nerds are supposed to be fans). I’ve seen stage adaptations, gone to museum exhibits, and even dressed up as a character on a couple of occasions.

I’m also a fan of things inspired by H. P. Lovecraft. I’ve never actually read any of his stuff, but I’ve enjoyed lots of things created by who have. Like this song by The Mountain Goats or this awesome silent film

I’m sure I’ll get around to reading some of his stuff someday, though I’ve heard it’s kind of racist.

I was excited when I discovered this zine that combined these two worlds. I thought it might be like that Jeeves and Wooster meet the gods of the abyss story that Alan Moore wrote for the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: the Black Dossier.
However, I was a bit disappointed when I opened this up and discovered that it was just a poem (in fact this is really more of a self-published poetry chapbook than a zine). This does actually fit with the source material. The nonsense poems Lewis Carroll wrote for the Alice books are one of the defining features, and Jaberwocky is the only poem I can recite from memory. (Well, I can do Twinkle, Twinkle Little Bat too, but it’s only four lines long.)

Lovecraft was also a fairly prolific writer of poetry, and the work here does seem to combine aspects of his poetry (or at least I assume so, not having read any) and Carroll’s. The poem uses a fairly simple rhyming couplet scheme, and while sometimes the rhymes seem a little forced they generally work alright. However, the metre doesn’t work as well and I found myself stumbling over reading some of the lines as they vary in syllable length and create awkward rhythms. (Repeating the word “rudimentary” twice in one line seems kind of inexcusable.)

It’s not as good as Alan Moore’s Lovecraft inspired fanfiction, but it was never going to be, and at the least it makes an amusing little curiosity to have next to your Alice or Lovecraft works.

Also holy shit, how much have I just written about poetry? Clearly the way to get me to do that is to write narrative poems about monsters. No surprise really.

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