Eidolon – A literary review

eidolon [ei·do·lon] n

an idealized person or thing; a spectre or phantom


‘It has occurred to me                 that this conversation

is being recorded                 but what you say

does not anyway           belong to me’


Sandeep Parmar is the fantastic writer behind the wonderful poetry collection Eidolon and she is also the face behind other works such as Reading Mina Loy’s Autobiographies. When the opportunity arose to attend a public reading by Parmar, I was very apprehensive as upon first glance at her poetry collection I was undecided. As a fan of poetry, I find that I’m quite particular when it comes to my favourite pieces. The balance between concrete and abstract concepts needs to be crucial for me. After delving into Parmar’s Eidolon, I came to realise that a lot her poems were very abstract – their meanings could be somewhat indecipherable. However, after looking into Helen of Troy and doing background research about her origin and eidolon, I soon came to realise the beauty behind some of Parmar’s poetry.

Within the reading, Parmar spoke about how her life influenced her work, her external influences and her writerly habits. I couldn’t help but realise the similarities between Parmar and I; we were both born in Nottingham, grew up in Derbyshire, we are fascinated with poetry and she aspires to break the conventional representations that are constructed about categories of people based on sex, race, gender and sexuality. I, too, am very passionate about pushing beyond the conventional boundaries that both society and already-established writers have implemented through the extensive timeline of writing.

The poems all carry a continuous theme and that is Helen of Troy, the daughter of Zeus, the most beautiful woman throughout Greece. The poems each explore her in different events, time periods and actions – we see a true to life modern-day Helen of Troy. The theme is consistent through all of Parmar’s poetry in Eidolon, so if you are interested in reading the collection, I highly suggest background research about the origin of Helen of Troy.

Parmar’s poetry is also very unconventional in terms of poetic structure. Sometimes, lines and stanzas are broken up using inconsistent gaps that gave the poetry a disorientated look. Parmar says that her inspiration behind using the page, as well as words, originated from Mina Loy (author of The Lost Lunar Baedeker). Both Parmar and Loy use the page as a different medium, painting the words to merge two art forms into one. I am very fond of using the page as a way to convey poetry, as it instantly makes the poetry more interesting and can give emphasis and impact on pauses and strong messages. Parmar states that she likes displacing the words because it plays with the ‘assertion of silence and space’.

I have a few favourite poems from Parmar’s collection and they all assert Helen into a modern day situations, such as her picking up the post of the front lawn, or her seeming to have a conversation with a psychiatrist. Parmar also finishes her poems with strong last lines, something I appreciate in good poetry – she feeds messages into her writing that leave the reader with a sense of satisfaction and subtle pondering, the reader puts the book down and their brains intertwine the meanings of the words with their own lives, repeating the lines over, over and over…

‘-you know pity isn’t the same as love

I love him too’


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