Sunday, December 18, 2011

Review of poetry book: Dimensions of the Kaleidoscope by Mark Lee

Recently, I wrote a book review on Shvoong and would like to link here, however, Shvoong added an image of the wrong book. So, until that is corrected, I'll not link. Below is the complete review. 

Dimensions of the Kaleidoscope. Mark Lee. Georgia: The War Book Company, 2011. 69 pages.

“The remotest discoveries of the Chemist, the Botanist, or Mineralogist, will be as proper objects of the Poet’s art as any upon which it can be employed.”  Coleridge and Wordsworth: Preface to Lyrical Ballads.

In Dimensions of the Kaleidoscope, MarkLee embodies this statement, mingling and co-mingling science with Romantic poetry.

            A googolplex is no closer to infinity
                        than is the number one,
            Just as we are no closer to unveiling the truth,
                        with all the madness done.


            Supernovae are remnants of exploding stars,
                        stellar winds are the color of primordial scars.
            A black hole does appear as a great spinning eye
                        in the regions of space where physics defy…

Throughout Dimensions of the Kaleidoscope, Lee compares, contrasts, and melds space, dreams, time, and love; science and emotion; and past, present, and future hypothesis into lyrical medleys.

Since I find it terribly difficult to write in quatrains, metre, and rhyme, I appreciate Lee’s ability. I personally enjoy more alliteration, and slant rhyme, yet I understand there are various schools of thought on this subject, and the jury is still out as to whether good, modern poetry should or should not rhyme. In most instances, Lee does it well.

The poetic style Lee uses in Dimensions ofthe Kaleidoscope is pure canonical Romanticism, albeit with not quite the vocabulary of the great ones. Words, images, and concepts repeated frequently and often back to back, interrupt the rhythm and flow. For example, the word “realm(s)” appears 17 times in a 65-page book, which translates to an appearance every 4.5 pages; “hue” appears every nine pages. This is not to say, however, that the some of the pieces inside Dimensions of the Kaleidoscope that words appear repeatedly in are not piercing and thought provoking.

            Above the law is a realm all to itself
            Man’s wicked capacities fueled by wealth


            From tempestuous skies in the blackest of night,
                        the finale of destiny neared.
            From distorted hues of black-purple light,
                        a message, though latent, appeared.

Cliché’s appear often as well, in Dimensions ofthe Kaleidoscope. “Sands of Time” and “Time and Space,” are just a couple. I would have like to see Lee use more of his own words, yet these are Romantic phrases, which is why they’ve become such clichés. One used in a poem that touched my soul was in the piece titled “The Sands of Time”:

            And then we see through the portal’s past
that nothing created was ever meant to last —
all that has failed were not the ‘dreams sublime’
but the symphonies of destruction within the Sands of Time.

I’m not sure if anything else would have worked as well. Additionally, the cliché didn’t take away from the sorrow at the realization of man’s disposability. The main theme of Lee's poems is of useless striving, or the wonder of the universe, or the minuteness of humanity. Lee explores the great questions in Renaissance style.

Among Lee’s musings on life, the lines that speak of love, lost love, and lost lives are the most powerful:

            Two lovers through a meadow dance
            like petals in the wind.


            And yet still now, how real it seems:
                        your countenance glows in moonlight beams,
            Reflecting eyes, so crystal clear,
                        your voice — sweet laughter, in the winds I hear.

“In The Blink of an Eye” tells the story of two men whose lives cross and end in tragedy. The entire piece is solidly written and emotionally striking. “The Vindication of Chaos” is current and relevant in today’s political landscape, all told in metre and rhyme. In that same vein, “Average Joe” and “The Designated Hero” could be any of us.

Lee closes Dimensions of the Kaleidoscope with “Moments More To Go,” which lets us know there is more Romanticism to come:
            “’All the world’s a stage’,
            so let this player roll,
            off the hook of Inspiration,
            with still moments more to go.

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a modern Romantic poet, and Dimensions of the Kaleidoscope was quite enjoyable. A bit repetitious and clichéd at times, however the lyricism and perfect metre balances it nicely. For a first publication from a new poet, Mark Lee's Dimensionsof the Kaleidoscope does not disappoint.

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