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This review is taken from PN Review 238, Volume 44 Number 2, November - December 2017.

Cover of The Breadbasket of Europe
Natasha StallardThe Ink in the Machine

Alice Lyons, The Breadbasket of Europe (Veer Books) £17.80
The experimental filmmaker Hollis Frampton ended his friendship with Ezra Pound due to an argument over Aphrodite’s hair colour. They agreed on red, but argued about the shade. Frampton later wrote how he accused Pound of ‘having no real vision of his own’ by describing a Botticelli hue: ‘I think I used the adjective “vulgar” – vulgar Botticelli porn.’

A disciple of Pound’s in the late 1950s, Frampton abandoned poetry for filmmaking after the fight and joined the 1960s New York avant-garde. Frampton’s oeuvre has been overlooked in film history of the era. His most well-known short film is ‘Gloria!’, in which a text about his Irish grandmother, who taught a young ‘borderline autistic’ Frampton to read and write on an old typewriter, is typed out on a green teleprompter screen.

There are several nods to Frampton in The Breadbasket of Europe, the latest publication by poet Alice Lyons. Born in New Jersey and now based in Sligo, Ireland, Lyon’s focused on Frampton’s ‘lyricization of cinema’ as part of her PhD. Lyon’s work is often collaborative and uses a mix of media, such as a eulogy for Irish architect Eileen Gray translated into morse code and distributed by homing pigeon. Her academic work is concerned with the intersection of poetry and film, and the cinematics of the lyric.

Frampton’s ‘Gloria!’ is picked up in Lyon’s poem ‘Typewriter Ribbon’. A father ‘who was formerly a potato’ gives his children onionskin paper to learn how to write. After overhearing a conversation in ‘a parking lot in Sligo’ ...

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