Android by Lek Borja (published by Plan B Press) is a truly unique little chapbook. The small, square pages alternate between paper and a transparent film, meaning that the various poems can be read alone or overlaid on one another to create entirely different works.
This interesting and original device lends itself to a non-linear reading style. There is constant flicking back and forth and rereading to see what new combinations and juxtapositions can be discovered. In this way it is an immensely fun and engaging read. Here the placement of words on the page really matters, and the poems inhabit the whole space of the paper, rather than just a single central column.
The poems themselves are somewhat abstract, but have a general industrial or mechanical feel to them. The book is divided into a number of quite short sections, the titles of which include such mysterious designations as “Phenomenon” and “The Senses Center”. The variations in flavour between these chapters are slight but noticeable, with each inhabiting a different place on the sliding scale of human to machine.
“A Cubist Examines My Inside” for example is quite a biological work, with its references to mind, chest and body. The title invites the reader to look through the film on which it is printed to “Notes On My Anxiety” in which we see the lines “Thoughts conformed, never / Filtered / Like soul.” The combination of the two evokes the ghost in the machine, the mind inside the body.
On the other hand “X-Ray” is definitively more robotic in origin, shaped like a kind of distorted medical report: perhaps the kind of arrangement that a malfunctioning printer might spit out. Its vocabulary is more complex, less human, and the general feel is one of cool metal and machinery.
It seems on reflection that Android is more about general feelings and indicators than it is about specific imagery. The proximity of words to one another suggests rather than shows, alludes to but does not reveal. Thus, while it is enormous fun to read, and uses language in a fantastically versatile way, what any of it actually means (indeed whether there is meaning to be found) is a mystery. It’s worth noting though that there’s enough novelty and originality here to keep you thoroughly occupied while you try to get to the bottom of it.
Android is available from Plan B Press at www.planbpress.com.