Review of Flicker


The Flicker effect 
Budde's latest redefines micro-fiction 

Though the book's blurb calls it "micro-fiction," Rob Budde would prefer to avoid this literary buxx term when talking of his latest work, Flicker.  

"I understand the press has to call it something," says Budde. "In fact, the manuscript was turned down first by a press who told me the reason was they wouldn't know what to call it or how to market it." 
Flickers, explains Budde, are poems without line breaks.  Essentially, he says, it's a matter of redefining how poetry looks on the page by removing line breaks.  "If you take 90 per cent of lyric poetry published now, took out the line breaks, they would all look like flickers.  And most of the time the line breaks are lazy anyway," says Budde.  

Clearly concerned with the visual impact of writing, Budde chooses to introduce the reader to Flicker in a no-capitals, e.e. cummings manner.  "I felt I had to signal to the reader to read with poetic sensibilities," Budde says. "I didn't want the reader to adopt a prose-reading pose.  As I moved on, I found I could lead a reader in other ways." 

In the text, Budde uses his flickers and brief images and incidents to explore four distinct themes.  In the central section, "Crazy Wood," Budde depicts an old woodcutter with a deep affection for the trees he cuts.  

"'Crazy Wood' began when I discovered the middle English word "wood" meant "crazy" and I thought hmmmm, yes, of course.  There is a type of beautiful madness to wood." 

Inspired partly by his experience as a woodcutter, the old man also takes on qualities of Budde's own mentor, author Robert Kroetsch.  "Crazy Wood," as with other sections of Flicker, delves into the many ways humans connect with each other.  Each of the four parts in Flicker is meant to be quite separate, yet Budde can still connect them.  

"A lot of thought went into order and positioning so one piece moved into another smoothly.  Many of the pieces involve dream and catharsis.  These considerations were thought through especially by George Amabile, my editor." 

Budde began writing the book 16 years ago, writing a few "flickers" each year.  
"Writing Flicker was different in the sense I was looking for that brief and complete emotional movement in a page or two," Budde says. "Either it happened or it didn't; many flickers ended up as half a page in the trash." 

— Lynne Stefanchuck Prairie books Now

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