Book Review – ‘uninterrupted time’ by Alvin Pang

I purchased a copy of this book at the 2019 Poetry on the Move Festival coordinated by the International Poetry Studies Institute.

Alvin Pang’s uninterrupted time is a masterclass in the delicate construction of prose poetry. Examining moments of relational intimacy, these poems explore life’s moments on the cusp; missed opportunities, transitions, might’ve-beens, and those places between, where we stand at crossroads.

Pang’s poetry is a rich and nuanced mindfulness. The poems here are untitled, but they weave together beautifully to create a mosaic of possibility found and lost. He explores the fertility with a sensitivity and sweetness that nonetheless touches on the intense pain:

In this universe we sip milk tea as the child we can never have gambols on the fine sand of our unfinished pining. 

The passage of time, and consciousness of it, is a recurring theme; and Alvin has a knack for finding the right images and details to make this subtle yet tangible point. He writes:

A whole table of uninterrupted time: no alarms, chores, dinners, earthquakes, microwave disasters, spilt milk, unmarked essays, radio broadcasts, sirens, neighbourly complaints. Only the hush into which breath pours unto the ages unending…

Pang urges the reader to be in the now; to listen to what is happening around us, to engage fully with our senses in the world. 

This collection’s strength is in its lush language and readability. Each piece, while in the prose form, reads with a rhythm and metre that lend themselves exceptionally to being spoken aloud. A standout here is the poem on page sixteen, which comes effortlessly to the lips despite the lack of punctuation; the emphasis is almost intuitive. This makes these pieces joyous to read, despite the intensity of their content.

Alvin’s language is exceptional. His word choices make the work sumptuous and fresh, and this lends a vividness to the images. Lightning sieved through cheesecloth…the feel of cheek against unforgiving granite…silence out of shoehorns and torn pages. These are just a few of the sparkling word-pictures woven between these pages. In the final poem, Pang loops back neatly to the first, with a return to the idea of the importance of telling – our stories, our secrets, our lives, all live on in the sharing of words.

uninterrupted time is a petite and powerful volume of prose poems. Alvin Pang has written an exemplar of the lyric beauty of the form which peels with each subsequent read, revealing new layers of depth and meaning. Poets immersing themselves in innovative writing will find much to explore and enjoy in this work.

uninterrupted time is available now from Recent Work Press

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