Toby Fitch’s third collection, The Bloomin’ Notions of the Other & Beau is a beguiling delight. Fitch takes the prose poems of Arthur Rimbaud’s Les Illuminations and reworks them into a collection that is surprising and new. The poems are highly visual; text, font and word size become a means of expression themselves. There are collages with text-filled paper cut-outs rearranged to form a cloud, an arrow, a sun and a city scape, there are concrete poems that swirl across the page, and there are more traditional lyric poems. A standout for me was ‘Being Beaut’ – ‘ashen face from cookies & cream/hurled over the canon into Sydney/Harbouring such a melee/helps to keep me regular my guns/crystal clean she lips me’. Although Fitch’s influences are distinctly European, his subject matter is uniquely Australian and seeing familiar places through Fitch’s kaleidoscopic lens is one of the collection’s highlights. He draws on a rich poetic tradition but doesn’t use its references as a crutch; his poems stand up on their own. They are fun, playful, and can be enjoyed by anyone (even if your knowledge of poetry is limited to The Man from Snowy River). Creativity is never purely original; The Bloomin’ Notions is certainly ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’, but it has a great time poking fun at those giants along the way.
Poet and author Toby Fitch completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Communication at UTS in 2005.