Here are some comments on poems recently sent to this list.
Warning: this email will consist of my slapping down on the
computer whatever thoughts happen to come into my head. So sue me.
ONE WHO TRAVELLED TO FIND WHAT LISTENING MEANT, by Alan Baker.
Consistently interesting language, though occasionally too
selfconsciously clever (tiny pupil whose schooling -- geddit?) I
can't find anything inside the striking verbal constructs but an
ordinary and somewhat sentimental poem about a parent's feelings.
The end seems to have echoes of Dylan Thomas, especially A Refusal
to Mourn. Speaking of which, I don't see how anyone could think a
poet who can invent images like "Deep with the first dead lies
London's daughter, robed in the long friends," which presents death
as a solemn investiture into a community of affection, can lack
spiritual or philosophic depth. Or for intellectual content cf.
Fern Hill, which is practically a developmental psychology treatise
on how a child's perception of time and the world evolves from
about age four to adolescence. (Yes I know I've wandered off into
another thread here. Go on, give me a hard time. Everyone else
Auto-Echo Poem of Jennifer and Nikuko, by (or I think programmed
by) A. Nikuko Sondheim. A bit more interesting than most computer
generated poems, because of the combination of poetic and technical
terms. I find all computer generated poems roughly equally
interesting, since their interest consists in their existence. I
must resist the temptation to refer here to Dr. Johnson's dancing
Spaceship by Steve Duffy. A very interesting piece though I can't
quite say I enjoyed it. I was impressed though by the collocation
of everyday boredom and everyday bizarreness mediated by the vivid
Albert, by Douglas Clark. An effective short story in a poem. We
learn just about everything important about a person in a half
remnants, by Chris Emery. I've written elsewhere that this sort of
thing is as fascinating as a kalaidoscope, the question is whether
it is any more meaningful. I still don't have an answer.
ANOTHER KIND OF DEATH, by Anthony Lawrence. Not sure what all is
going on, but it sounds pretty good. The opening I thought was a
little weak -- it would have been better to begin with one of the
more striking images that appear later on. The good part starts
with the mangroves and the lines about Delmore Schwartz are fine.
Nachtmusik, by Ernest Slyman. This seems an attempt to experiment
with a technique that's already been pretty thoroughly investigated
by the Beats: trying to emulate in words the free-form but
disciplined improvisation of jazz. The idea of using this
technique to describe jazz itself is interesting, but I don't think
it works here: too many of the imagistic collisions seem just
bizarre and distracting rather than creatively surprising.
butterflies by steve duffy. This strikes me as something written
by a person trying to sound like a computer program. Interesting
to read through once if you remember the Tarot card, but unless I'm
missing something it seems awfully drawn out for the point being
made. The formatting is quite different depending on how you view
it -- it all gets lost in the list archive for instance (at least
it does on my browser.) So maybe I'm not getting some intended
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