Persons Real and Supposed
A review of Ladonian Magnitudes by Bryan Sentes
Published on March 1, 2007
Is there a person named Bryan Sentes? The author’s note in Ladonian Magnitudes
asserts his reality as a person by saying that “bryan sentes” returns 267 hits on Google, one of which says that he is a professor at Dawson College. And the note goes on to say that “Sentes” is derived from the Latin for “Holy” and “Bryan” from the Celtic for “Crow.” The reader will probably say “Holy crow!” quite a few times in reading this witty, erudite and sometimes exasperating volume. Much of the erudition comes from Google as well as from wide reading. It isn’t surprising that his CINQ interview about the book is on Youtube. Sentes is thoroughly mesmerized by Ezra Pound, a writer of the last century but still our fractious contemporary. Like Pound, he is a polyglot and polymath: italicized words from foreign tongues stud the poems, and they abound with esoteric references, some of which are explained in the rather condescending notes to the book. And like Pound, he writes quite well about Europe, with two good poems about his stay in the German city of Bochum, and another more laboured one about some drunken misadventures in Italy. His satirical poems don’t have the scope of Pound’s “Hugh Selwyn Mauberley,” though the influence is clear. Sentes seems most concerned about becoming academic, but of course he is inevitably academic: it’s just that his academy is the maverick academy of Old Ez. The title of the book alludes to the self-proclaimed country of Ladonia, which was created by a Swedish sculptor-and the sculptor has already acknowledged Sentes’s book on the Ladonian website. There is a twist: the final poem in Ladonian Magnitudes
is called “Magonian Latitudes,” a sly reference to the British magazine of UFO lore called “Magonia,” which – hold on – refers to the medieval legend of cloud ships appearing in a book by Bishop Agobard of Lyons in 815. The legend has been retold more effectively by Seamus Heaney. Sentes’s poem is a delicate evocation of this realm of the aery beings of Magonia. His lyricism calls to mind some of the exquisite visionary passages buried in the pedantry and rant of Pound’s Cantos
. But Sentes should keep in mind that Pound is both a good and a bad example. mRb
Bert Almon lives in Edmonton, Alberta. Retired from teaching, he follows the careers of his former students.