Saturday, December 6, 2014



A Princess Magic Presto Spell by Lisa Jarnot
(Solid Objects, 2014)

A Princess Magic Presto Spell is a long poem in a short book (32 jam-packed pages) of three parts.  Part One: Amedellin Cooperative Nosegay.  Part Two: A Boa Constructer.  Part Three: Every Body’s Bacon. 

Physically it is a hardcover book, 7.5”X7.5”, which includes gorgeous artwork by Emilie Clark.  In its size and format, it resembles a children’s book.

Incantatory, nounal, whimsical, perhaps a touch elegiac, A Princess Magic Presto Spell is suffused with wonder.  Here’s the opening stanza of Part One:

“Into the eve of a picnic of trees of the strawberry rugulet rabbit Tyrone
into a glazed economic disturbance caused by the rain most dramatic and strange
         small whole moon in the sky         fishlike in semblance
       as damp as an amphibrach the anthony braxton gland of ant launch”

That “rugulet rabbit Tyrone” recurs as a refrain which I can’t refrain from loving.

This is an adult book but one in which a child’s voice is often present. As in the opening of Part Three:

“Eating the carrots                I’m happy like this                  I don’t wear underwear             I love pizza
                                                                   I think about guppies all the time”

 A Princess Magic Presto Spell isn’t linear.  It weaves associations and sounds in sometimes dizzying ways:

“sahashra enzo rust in an otter box of solstice coot, look at that beautiful child glowing in the night, for
small art, for saxon churches, defiant lightness, take a restless optimism, a wanky thing, and peale’s
mastodon, find the train to cockfosters, the hearth smoke, the bread, the nettles, the starlings eating    
puke, take the sock poet, for example, that other smashed pine cone, those three kings’ camels, the
word ‘malvas’ in a dream; remember dave’s wang, an abner’s ashes, and paul revere”  (28)

Sadly I am unable to do more than hint at the braided beauty of this entrancing and unparaphrasable book.  I’ve read it three times and it is still not done with me.  A Princess Magic Presto Spell is extraordinary.


Tom Beckett is trying to finish his novel  Appearances. Recently, his journal The Difficulties was archived at Craig Dworkin's Eclipse project: 

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