Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Daily Poetry Show: Season Three

Pies by Erik Sweet
This is the kind of poem that compensates additional readings. I can’t be fooled by the undemanding language because the thought is anything but. Not that I’ve come away with some kind of epiphany. But each time I read it, I get another slice of the pie. I’m not sure if it was intentional, but then again, who would. Not even the poet would surely know. But there’s something very noticeable about the peculiar line breaks in the final two couplets that are unlike anything that came before. And I like it. I think it adds something to the ghostly atmosphere. And, after all, that’s what form is all about. Not some metrical metronome or rhyme design. But some underlying structure that gives body to the ghost of words. And throughout, I think the simple language becomes a form here, a kind of virtual meter, that provides a framework for its complex deliberation. And it works.

Six at the Beginning by Deborah Bogen
Ouch! But here’s a form that seems completely oblivious to the poem except that the poet wanted to make three stanzas with six lines each. In fact, I’d bet that “The curls fall / like ribbons, filling the hollow / at her neck” is so much filler to get that last stanza. Not that the poem is without some merit. There’s a certain amount of empathy called for, despite the stereotypical melodrama. The simplicity of language in this one masks the ferocious emotion implied. But it all comes crashing down because it expects too much and offers so little.

Speak, Zero by Mary Ruefle
It’s probably me but I liked this until the last couplet. I liked the drive at the beginning to fall into couplets. I especially like the lighthouses. And in a perfect world, the poem would have ended after “detail”. But even that was Ok. But surely the “death sentence” should have finished things off. But, no, she had to go into the music of poetic endings, the false arias of sentimental posturing, the bane of so much poetry these days. As if the poet has to be a shaman of emotion.

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