Cyberwit (India/ US) 2020, 82pp
The poems that make up Gum Arabic form an amorphous patchwork which covers the complexity of the cosmopolitan human condition at a time when multiculturalism is under increasing threat from nativism, nowhere more so than in "Brexit" Britain's "hostile environment" against immigrants.
Poverty, homelessness, racism, Islamophobia, mental illness, imperialism, spirituality, religion, mythology, socialism, capitalism, consumerism, immigration, and the legacy of colonialism, are among the challenging themes in this uncompromising collection.
A mixed assortment of historical and literary figures populate this patchwork landscape: William Blake, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Rudyard Kipling, H. Rider Haggard, Gordon of Khartoum, Viktor Tausk, Jack London, Joseph Conrad and R.D. Laing among them.
Morrison's trademark didacticism and polemical tone are here tempered by a more personal touch. These poems help remind us of our psychical interconnectedness as human beings, something above and beyond the accidents of our nationalities, cultures, and faiths or lack of.
As with the substance it is named after, which, among other purposes, is used to make cigarette papers stick when licked, Gum Arabic binds its subjects together with the glue of ontological integration.
'Alan Morrison’s Gum Arabic is about feeling with the vulnerability of those who it seems have been deprived the option to feel with themselves. Circumstances aside, for Morrison, they are intrinsically people and the poetry is about seeing them as individuals placed in situations not always by their choice, but nevertheless able to assert their selfhood in complex ways. Thus we view the origami man in the same boundless sympathy as the haunting image of the antimacassar for the human condition.'
Professor Prakash Kona
'...skill in handling the flow of the poeticised afflatus'
Peter Riley, The Fortnightly Review
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