Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Daily Poetry Show: It's About the Stance Stupid

Blind Girl's Litany by Mark Yakich
I like the stance. The casual way works this time. Because it’s a poem about something that it doesn’t want to be about. It works hard to convince itself that death is “not so awful.” And that the death of even a mother is “not worth writing down.” Too often the stance is just that, some remnant posturing of hipster cool. It was refreshing back then in a world too straight for its own good. But in a world where style is everywhere and everything, it’s just a surrendering of personal authenticity to all the powers that be. Far from revolutionary or innovative, it’s submission at its worst (and for all the various meanings of that word). But this is at its best.

Twenty-third by Christina Pugh
This poem is heartache walking. Why? Because one of her parents, which one she doesn’t say, says, “We hope you end up here.” And like Proust riffing off the madeleine, Pugh runs all the way to the twenty-third psalm. Which is the worst kind of rip-off, appropriating one of the greats for your own show, hoping for significance by simple transference. Not that her poem isn’t well-wrought. And not that there isn’t some heart-rending language therein. Still, a stance is a stance is a stance. With or without the crutch of a psalm.

Watersong by F. D. Reeve
It begins with some merit but loses control in the second stanza. I think it may have tripped on its own rhyme. It’s one of the most difficult stances to take, writing in rhyme. If you’re not careful it will take control and lead you down wayward roads to awkward results. You have to be pretty damned good to incorporate such sham with truth. Otherwise the pretense takes over and you’re talking about insects with no bones and a moon rising like an orange stone and other such expedient nonsense.

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