Blotter by Oli Hazzard
Oli Hazzard’s Blotter consists of five sequences, each constructed using a different process. In ‘Graig Syfyrddin’ notes on hillwalking in the Welsh marches – the poet’s former home – alternate with found text taken from an online walking forum. ‘Blotter’ is a shepherd’s calendar of sonnets composed of Russian spambot script – a mix of lifestyle advice, gaming tips, authoritarian propaganda, bucolic fragments and apocalyptic messages. ‘Within Habit’ is a series of prose poems collaged from numerous sources. ‘March and May’ comprises parallel columns of verse. ‘Or As’ is a family of 81 seventeen-syllable poems, each one an erasure of the corresponding page in a different book the poet was writing alongside Blotter.
The poems are preoccupied, above all, with the passage of time, and how that passage can be differently registered or disturbed: the working day, the distorted seasons, the timestamp of a text message, the jottings of a daybook, the formal structure of a shepherd’s calendar, the double exposure of a photograph, the reverse-flow of a Twitter feed. The title, Blotter, connects these concerns, suggesting at once a police blotter, a journal, a thing for drying wet spots, and, in its painterly connotation, a way of rendering the world in a manner that is vague, blurred, or out of focus.
Published Feb 2018