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Roman Payne's Soliloquies

Foreword by Yves Delacroix

The Soliloquies by Roman Payne is an unfinished collection of numbered lyric and poetic prose pieces, each of which is a ‘soliloquy.’ Some soliloquies contain illustrations or photographs, which are referred to as ‘plates,’ and others are solely text. The first five soliloquies were written in 2006. To date, there are several dozen in the collection. The Soliloquies were intended by the author to be read either as one complete – albeit perpetually unfinished – body of work, or individually as self-standing prose poems; or in book-length collections comprised of many interrelated soliloquies.

The themes of the soliloquies vary, and it is uncertain what tone the work will have in its final form, though issues of adventure, an individual’s relationship to society, creative exploration, heroism, as well as erotic and amorous seduction, are central to most of the existing soliloquies.

Many of the soliloquies are long, some bearing their own titles such as “The ‘Noëlesqueia’ Soliloquy” (also referred to as the “5th Soliloquy”), or “The ‘Victory Horse’ Soliloquy” (the “9th Soliloquy”), while others are short, more fragmentary, and are simply given numbers, such as “1st Soliloquy” and “2nd Soliloquy.”

Payne began The Soliloquies in Paris, and life in the French capital is omnipresent in the first soliloquies, yet the careful reader will be struck by the shifts from places and people real and reasonable, to others either imagined or symbolized. Some following the text may find themselves passing from casual travelogues into ornate landscapes wholly unfamiliar, unfathomable; then into places one would find described in an ancient mythic tradition. Payne’s literary influences (notably Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, as well as Latinate oral and written literary forms) are highly visible in the first soliloquies.

Like the heroic epics, Payne’s Soliloquies begin in medias res. and move forward and backward through time and across geographical locations. One assumes the work as a whole will progressively move forward in time, through the author’s experiences, over the years to come. As Payne expressed, “This is going to be a life’s work. Although I intend to finish individual soliloquies often, as well as book-length collections of soliloquies, I never intend to finish The Soliloquies as a whole; rather, I intend to let them finish me.”

- Yves Delacroix
ModeRoom Press

 

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