Philip Meersman’s tour de force of experiential poetry This Is Belgian Chocolate received a stellar review in the Dutch journal Tzum. Some translated highlights include:
Publishing a book of poetry with an American publisher is something most can only dream about. But with This Is Belgian Chocolate, poet Philip Meersman succeeds in achieving this American dream. Really, the book should come with a warning label that cautions: “Reading this book may forever change your view on poetry.”
Cortázar, Bosch, Apollinaire, Shakespeare, Newton, Danielewski . . . Whoever reads this book, is often in illustrious company. But to me, all can be traced to an Argentine writer-poet-essayist by the name Jorge Luis Borges and his short story “The Aleph,” published in 1945. The Aleph is a place that contains all other places and in that way it offers a look at the entire universe: without distortion, overlapping, or confusion. This Is Belgian Chocolate wants to be a literary aleph, which–within the limited boundaries of the paper–creates a universe that captures the whole poetic universe seen from all angles. By extension, this book is a textbook example of ergodic [Greek: ergon (work) and hodos (road)] literature, a term that was first introduced by Espen J. Aarseth in his book Cyber Text-Perspectives on Ergodic Literature. It contains the most common definition of ergodic literature: “In ergodic literature, nontrivial effort is required to allow the reader to traverse the text. If ergodic literature is to make sense as a concept, there must be useful nonergodic literature, where the effort to traverse the text is trivial, with no extranoematic responsibilities placed on the reader except (for example) eye movement and the periodic or arbitrary turning of pages.” In the following pages, I will lead you through the poetry of Philip Meersman and test his work in relation to the definition of Aarseth.
This effort will reward you, of course, with lightning language, wild wordplay, and intriguing intertextuality. Passing with distinction as ergodic poetry.
You can read the whole article in the original dutch here
And don’t forget to check out Philip Meersman’s author page here.