DURA's StAnza 2021 reviews: Palimpsest

Saturday 6 March 2021

To consider Clive Birnie as a poet or an artist might be unnecessarily limiting. Both his artistic and written talent are on show in Palimpsest, the eighth of an experimental sequence of writing, whose vibrant aesthetics are indicative of his sincere love for visual art forms. Birnie’s previous endeavours include Cutting Up the Economist and Hashtagpoetry#: The Hidden Poetry of Twitter, Cut up, Painted and Posted to Instagram. In this poetry pamphlet palimpsest appears in two guises, as an innovative creative technique, and the name of a mystifying protagonist; Birnie borrows words from other works, and uses a sequence of poems to tell the story of Palimpsest – a revenge murderer.

Welcome to the world.
Be square
and divide
cut the problem small
take shortcuts wherever possible.

The story unfolds unwillingly in a matter of thirty poems. Each untitled poem is created from scraps of other texts, and builds to a commentary on the spontaneous yet restrictive contemporary world, following a perplexing and bewildering story that often leaves any true sense of plot to the reader’s own calculations. Matching the distorted style, is the narrative perspective, shifting as it does between first and third person.

A protagonist who touches on dark topics with the lightest of hands, turns a story of murder into a lively social commentary – this is the pronounced matrix at the heart of Palimpsest....


This is an excerpt of a review by Mhari Aitchison of Clive Birnie's Palimpsest. For more information on Birnie at StAnza21, please click HERE. To read the whole review, go to the DURA webpage.