This Wasted Land and its Chymical Illuminations by Marc Vincenz — review by Ron Kolm

This Wasted Land

and its Chymical Illuminations


by Marc Vincenz (annotated by Tom Bradley)


review by Ron Kolm

This Wasted Land by Marc VincenzThis Wasted Land
and its Chymical Illuminations
by Marc Vincenz,
annotated by Tom Bradley,
Lavender Ink, New Orleans, April 2015
ISBN 978-1-935084-72-3
242 pages: $19.00


Marc Vincenz’s This Wasted Land is a fine addition to that long line of tricky texts that dot the periphery of Western literature. The denizens of this field that I’m familiar with are Swift’s Tale of the Tub and Battle of the Books, Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, Nabokov’s Pale Fire and my favorite: Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman.

The title of his book, This Wasted Land, gives us a clue as to what Marc Vincenz is up to, but it’s also meant to throw us off the track. This book is not a recasting of one of the most famous poems of the 20th century, though it does play off of it. The Waste Land is a serious work of art that uses critical apparatus for clarification, and though it does have a thin string of humor woven into it, it is of the dourest sort. This Wasted Land is flat out humorous; it uses critical apparatus in the vein of Nabokov or Flann O’Brien; the footnotes, etc, are meant to ‘take over’ (or ‘hijack’) the work itself.
By the end of Pale Fire, Kinbote, the footnoter, has, to some degree, triumphed, and by the end of The Third Policeman de Selby, who is not the main character, almost seems to rule the roost; his footnotes get longer and more convoluted as the book progresses (or regresses, in this case). The ‘notes’ to This Wasted Land are by one Tom Bradley. I Wikipedia’d him and, as far as they are concerned, he exists, so I suppose I have to give him existence as well. But I sure wouldn’t argue the point, though he, whoever he is, becomes the ‘owner’ of this book by his sheer persistence; his notes take up many more pages than the text itself.
I do want to point out how up-to-date this ‘poem’ is; though there is an archaic notion of English surrounding the proceedings, we do stumble upon ‘hedge funds’ and ‘Apache helicopters.’ Take your time reading This Wasted Land and marvel at Marc Vincenz’s erudition, and let all of the author(s) conceits flow over you – it adds up to an enjoyable trip. UG


Copyright 2012 Arthur Kaye ©

Copyright © 2012 Arthur Kaye

Ron Kolm is a member of the Unbearables, and an editor of several of their anthologies; most recently The Unbearables big Book of Sex! Ron is a contributing editor of Sensitive Skin magazine, and the editor of the Evergreen Review. He is the author of The Plastic Factory and, with Jim Feast, the novel Neo Phobe. A collection of his poems, Divine Comedy, has been published by Fly By Night Press. His most recent collection of poems, Suburban Ambush, was published in 2014 by Autonomedia. Kolm’s papers were purchased by the New York University library, where they’ve been catalogued in the Fales Collection as part of the Downtown Writers Group.
Marc VincenzMarc Vincenz is British-Swiss, was born in Hong Kong, and has published seven collections of poetry: The Propaganda Factory, or Speaking of Trees; Gods of a Ransacked Century; Mao’s Mole; Behind the Wall at the Sugar Works (a verse novel); Additional Breathing Exercises (bilingual German-English); Beautiful Rush and This Wasted Land and its Chymical Illuminations. His eighth collection, Becoming the Sound of Bees, is forthcoming with Ampersand Books. Marc is the publisher and executive editor of MadHat Press, MadHat Annual (formerly Mad Hatters’ Review). He is Coeditor-in-Chief of Fulcrum: A Journal of Poetry and Aesthetics, International Editor of Plume, and serves on the editorial board of Open Letters Monthly. He is Director of Evolution Arts, Inc, a non-profit organization that promotes independent presses and journals. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
tombradley_photoTom Bradley has published twenty-five volumes of fiction, essays, screenplays and poetry with houses in the USA, Great Britain and Japan. Various of his novels have been nominated for the Editor’s Book Award, the New York University Bobst Prize, and the AWP Series. 3:AM Magazine in Paris gave him their Nonfiction Book of the Year Award in 2007 and 2009. His journalism and criticism have appeared in such publications as, and are featured in Arts & Letters Daily. Denis Dutton, editor of the site (“among the most influential media personalities in the world,” according to Time Magazine), wrote as follows: “Tom Bradley is one of the most exasperating, offensive, pleasurable, and brilliant writers I know. I recommend his work to anyone with spiritual fortitude and a taste for something so strange that it might well be genius.” His latest collaborations with illustrators are Elmer Crowley: a katabasic nekyia, Family Romance, and We’ll See Who Seduces Whom: a graphic ekphrasis in verse. Further curiosity can be indulged at

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