Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Daily Poetry Show: On Zoolatry

Judges by Larissa Szporluk
I love the Lord of the Rings. In fact I’m in the process of re-watching the DVDs this week, so I know a Sam when I see one. And this is not a Sam. Its anapests are too crafty for that, its meter, if any, too eccentric. And the wit of its word play too wild. And a few of its enjambments are way too racy for that ordinary character. Moreover, this one is too hopelessly erudite for that. Too droll. All that and more, but in the end it’s the pure delight of a poet “who dined on himself and survived” that makes this one work like a Sam. Three snaps.

from Live from the Woodley Park Marriott, Washington, DC by Ryan Flaherty
This one started fast for the first two stanzas and then found itself lost in some exhibit at the zoo with a pithy worn philosophy and one-liners following like stun guns that won’t stun. Just looking at this section, I wouldn’t care to see the rest. Two snaps.

Board Book & the Costume of a Whooping Crane by David Wojahn
You have to give him credit for taking on topics larger than elegant dejection or god forbid another Greek god. Mixed into the miscellaneously long and loose iambic lines are children, squirrels, rodent-eyed impatient presidents, and one endangered species in its ludicrous significance. It sometimes doesn’t work, but then he recovers swiftly more than not. And when it does work, the contrast between the innocent and the malignant is refreshingly sickening. I’m not happy about the rainbow ending, but the lines that lead to it are gloriously descriptive and alive, like much of the language in the poem, especially his Whitmanic catalog of cranes and their motley crew of enemies. It’s certainly uneven, but, for me, the subject matters (sure, I know, at long last relevance, but really) haul this one above the usual horizon. Three and a half-snaps.

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