Passenger Flight

Passenger Flight

A review of Passenger Flight by Brian Campbell

Published on October 1, 2009

Passenger Flight
Brian Campbell

Signature Editions

Brian Campbell’s inspiration is Charles Baudelaire: Passenger Flight begins with a quotation from the French writer’s prose poetry (Le Spleen de Paris), lines in praise of the marvellous passage of clouds. Two of the poems, “Airports” and “Casements,” are “palimpsests” of works by Baudelaire, modern versions figuratively “written over” the originals. “Airports” doesn’t improve on the original, but “Casements” modernizes without vulgarizing, adding images of electric lights and computer screens to Baudelaire’s urban atmosphere. The poem closest to the splenetic urban tone of the great French poet is “Edmonton,” which summons up the mercantile texture of daily life in a contemporary city – all those chain stores – while reminding us that even a city laid out on a grid system can be afflicted with potholes.

The challenge with prose poetry is to find equivalents of the line breaks and rhythms of poetry. Some of Campbell’s short poems use alliteration and internal rhyme, the Gertrude Stein solution. The longer ones are more conventional narratives and need the music of a complex and shapely syntax. The book is not a failure, but it has a few too many potholes of its own. mRb

Bert Almon lives in Edmonton, Alberta. Retired from teaching, he follows the careers of his former students.



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