There's about to be some talk about elevated language, and it might not be a page-turner. It might not make your day. It might be soporific.
So, rushing in, as always, where angels fear to tread--that is, rushing to the rescue, I wonder if this video clip is this another kind of prayer (notice the girl's demeanor, as if you could avoid it), or at least a language so intense that, if someone called it poetry, I'd hesitate before arguing. But the video is also a bit of comic relief preceding a bunch more old-fashioned words from visitors and me. I'll sprinkle in some photos too.
|Field Hockey, Intensity, CT, Oct. 2010|
Except for a few accidental whiffs of Billy Collins, I’m not familiar with any of these poets you mention. I suppose it’s not news to point out that the poem you refer us to violates every traditional precept of poetry: it uses demotic rather than poetic language, it has no form or recognizable music, it has no point (metaphysical, emotional, intellectual or otherwise), and its shaggy-dog structure is so discursive you probably couldn’t even pull it off in conversation in a bar without being accused of being totally incoherent. Maybe I’m not appropriately amused, but I haven’t learned anything about prayer or being drunk or being human from this exercise other than deer look like enormous rats on stilts (which is funny enough to willfully suspend my disbelief at the utter lack of verisimilitude in the simile). Maybe I’m old school, but I want a reason to know why it’s important that elephants clean each others asses, or why someone would feel like Wile E. Coyote without even a speck of dust to mark his fall.
The danger of letting readers do all the work is that not every reader has the self-esteem and attention-span issues of this narrator. Lurching from metaphor to metaphor as a form of prayer? Isn’t this the kind of stuff that gives poetry a bad name in the first place?
|Egret, Alarmed, Kensington, 9/16/12|
It's a good story and very accessible.
Hannah Stephenson said...
Interestingly, he's known around these parts as being extremely skilled with form. I see Bill wasn't a huge fan of the poem included here....but consider this one from Hudgins (which kills me):
My father cinched the rope,
a noose around my waist,
and lowered me into
the darkness. I could taste
my fear. It tasted first
of dark, then earth, then rot.
I swung and struck my head
and at that moment got
another then: then blood,
which spiked my mouth with iron.
Hand over hand, my father
dropped me from then to then:
then water. Then wet fur,
which I hugged to my chest.
I shouted. Daddy hauled
the wet rope. I gagged, and pressed
my neighbor's missing dog
against me. I held its death
and rose up to my father.
Then light. Then hands. Then breath.
“The Well” I think works because the steady rhythm and rhyme mimics the feeling of being lowered into a well. While the language itself is plain, it has a stateliness that elevates it (as much if not more than its narrative does) above the typical “traumatic childhood memory” poem growing like weeds in all the journals.
I am tempted to take a more fair-minded approach to the drunk poem now. If Hannah can survive such influences yet write so much better and differently, I should have nothing to fear.
Banjo, there is a lot to digest here. I fear I have to do it in increments... like good poetry, your posts aren't prose. Pure poetry...
Loved the photos though; the selections, subjects, order of appearance. Especially the monks and the 2 church images. The images always enhance your posts!
|Mid-September, SE Michigan|