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New Digital Chapbook Release: Mark Young's Mercator Projected: selected geographies (HDMP 9)

Poet and visual artist Mark Young offers us cut-up and collaged travellor's accounts and descriptions of both obscure and well-trodden locales and ports of call in his new digital chapbook Mercator Projected: selected geographies (Half Day Moon Press No. 9). Its pages also include complementary abstract topographical maps and glitched snapshots. The work can be considered, if one will, as a modern-day answer to Strabo's monumental tome, Geographica (c. 7 BC - AD 23).

One main difference between Young and Strabo, however, is that Strabo's world consisted only of Eurasia and part of Africa. Young, an experimental New Zealand poet, artist, and editor residing in Australia, might as well have come from another realm, dimension, or time. While his descriptions are grounded by placenames, collage-like phrases come together to defamiliarize us with them, thus freeing us to create new meanings. This clears the barrier of preconceptions that come with names other than those already unfamiliar.

One poem included in Mercator Projected was also included in the first issue of Half Day Moon Journal Issue N. 1. I will include it here as an example of a poem that playfully picks up on the mindset and culture of Sacramento and the state of California it presides over as its government seat.


What Is Your Spirit Animal? You've

asked an interesting question; but

due to unsteady aerodynamic loads

on pitching & plunging wings, the

California State Rules of Court

say three separate motions are

necessary before it can be answered.

Here, Young has effectively captured the "spirit animal" of Sacramento itself.

Another one of my favorites is the following:


A quick snack is all the guide-

books say you can find here.

They suggest you go some-

where else, to a nearby city

perhaps, if you're looking for

memorable moments. Maybe

that's why the Soyuz rocket

of expedition 49 landed near-

by, to relax "in a remote region

in Kazakhstan" after the hustle

& bustle of space. It was my

75th birthday. If I'd known they

were going to be around, I

would have invited them along.

To provide any more examples would only rob the reader of the welcome surprises that weave through Young's new work.

Another fundamental difference between the approaches of Young and Strabo is in how they arrange and structure their subject matter. For instance, Strabo takes us region by region, up rivers, along coasts, and from island to nearest island. In light of this, Young's arrangement appears to be far more eccentric. The "random" ordering of locales is in keeping with modern-day travel, in how we jet to some fixed coordinate in an entirely different hemisphere without even stopping at any points along the way. The way we travel has certainly altered, and from what we can gather from Young's work, so has our way of engaging with destinations far and near.

See the brief bio notes below for more about the author.



Mark Young was born in Aotearoa / New Zealand but now lives in a small town in North Queensland in Australia. He has been publishing poetry for over sixty-three years, and is the author of more than sixty books, primarily text poetry but also including speculative fiction, vispo, memoir, and art history. His most recent books are Your order is now equipped for shipping (2022, Sandy Press); The Advantages of Cable (2022, Luna Bisonte Prods); a free downloadable pdf prompted by the Cantos of Ezra Pound, XXXX Centones; and with the slow-paced turtle replaced by a fast fish, both published in 2023 by Sandy Press.

An image from Mark Young's digital chapbook Mercator Projected. It is a collage on a blue background with flourescent pink triangular elements and a triangular cutout of the image of a many-windowed building with multiple floors..
An image from Young's Mercator Projected titled "Katamatite".

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