makar/unmakar is a new poetry anthology published by Tapsalteerie and edited by Calum Rodger. It is a collection that introduces the reader to twelve contemporary poets who although very different from each other have one thing in common: they are not afraid to push poetical boundaries. It is important to say here that this reviewer is not a poetry expert but rather a reader who wants to get our of their comfort zone so this review is just the personal ruminations of a keen, just-introduced-to-poetry reader.
makar/unmakar as a book is very well constructed. It begins with a captivating introduction by the editor Calum Rodger who explains the ideas behind the collection. Each of the twelve poets is given enough space in the anthology so that the reader gets a taste of their poetry through more than one piece of work. Each poet is also introduced so that the reader gets an understanding of their ideas and drive before attempting to read their work. The twelve poets differ very much from each other in terms of style and subject matter which creates a roller-coaster of a read. The anthology is exciting and refreshing as the reader jumps from poetry that discusses modern day loneliness to a poem that is focused on a brilliant drag queen. For a brand-new poetry reader this is exhilarating for there were no poetical clichés but a constant renovation of language and poetry itself, which is one of the main focuses of the anthologies as Rodger explains in his introduction.
However, although the anthology is very much about pushing boundaries and experimenting with forms and styles this artistic ambition can sometimes be a sword with two edges. Some of the poems are frankly hard to read and understand. This is true for both the way they are typeset and the way they are written. We, as readers, are used to the notion that poetry is layered in metaphors, sometimes clear and sometimes vague, but the linguistic experiment of some pieces is such that it becomes simply hard to read and digest. Having re-read the anthology a few times this reviewer still does not have the faintest idea what some pieces are trying to convey. This goes for the typesetting of some of the pieces. An experimental typesetting can be a piece of beauty but unless there is a deeper meaning behind it that shines throughout the poem, or even at its very end, there is not much point in being different simply for the sake of being different. A more experienced poetry reader might be able to understand these pieces but for a beginner poetry connoisseur some of the writing was simply inaccessible.
With this said, there were many pieces who were really stunning. Some were simple, some more obscure and this variety was a joy to read. From experiences in Tesco to the idea of being seen by others, there are a lot of poems that highlighted once again the main ideas of the anthology. As Nicky Melville says in one of the poems: “if you don’t take things/too far/ you don’t know/how far/ you can take things” and it is vital that there are writers, such as these twelve, trying to expand the old conventions and create something new.
As people differ from one another so does their reading and simply because this reviewer loved some pieces and was baffled by others does not mean that the same will be true for the next reader who picks up makar/unmakar. This is why I am encouraging you all to go and get yourself a copy of this new poetry anthology. It is important to support new talent, especially such ground-breaking talent, and I am positive that each and every one of you will find a piece that will really touch you.
makar/unmaker is available now, published by Tapsalteerie