Bill Direen’s latest “novel” is another excursion through cross-genre literary wanderings. Here in fact is not one novel but separate instances of poetry, stories, journal entries and narrative fiction combined under the pages of a single volume. It’s a website-approach to print and publishing, the banner being the theme – “Enclosures 2” – this second volume of his “Enclosures” speaking to the boundaries (geographic and internal) around the writing or the lifting of those boundaries.
So Enclosures 2 features conversational diary entries and arts commentary and from
there to more structured fiction – only for it to fall away into prose-poems and then poetry.
It’s less about meaning than form and the shifting and shaping of form but when Direen’s prose is alive and vital it’s an exhilarating experience – reading without context, although the context is in fact everything up to and including this point, across his music and writing; no stranger to these experimental forms Direen trusts his audience, his readers, will be familiar – or at least open – also.
So here we have glimpses of what might have been a sequel to 2003’s (similarly dislocated) novel, Jules. We have poetry that touches on his Dunedin Poems, informed by nature, focussing on description and then we have poems that fall away into the experimental.
These are all places Direen has been before – and will return to. We’re sure of that, even if he isn’t.
Enclosures 2 won’t be for everyone but I found it thoughtful and intriguing, lucid within the looseness and I was impressed with how Direen was able to blend the many voices as he pursued the many variants of the ‘I’ in his writing, locating it – and himself – always according to, or at least by acknowledging the corresponding place and space in the physical world. As with the very music improvisation there’s a frequency attached, a visceral hum, that needs to be our guide when it seems that it could all fall away at any second when in fact the performance (in this case, the writing) is tightly controlled; open to – and because of – experience.