Jan 28, 2014

Mary Ruefle, "Why I Am Not a Good Kisser," a Comedy-Gravity Meatball



http://www.versedaily.org/2011/goodkisser.shtml

“Why I Am Not a Good Kisser”
is a Mary Ruefle romp in which we see her ample, quirky, speedy cerebellum and its thick book of information leavened by humor. Or is it two pages of humor—about our famous A.D.D., perhaps—deepened by scholarly details? In any case, it’s a pretty enjoyable example of trying not to take too seriously a really, really serious self.

If I started in on my favorite parts, gifts along the way, I might never stop. With a gun to my head, I’d probably opt for the little black dog and the rooster details.
Boat-Tailed Grackles
I do have two questions or reservations about the writing. Wouldn’t shorter lines increase the sense of romp and comedy? These often long lines, with no stanza breaks, create a sense of labor that might weigh down the frolicking, just a bit.


Secondly, we are taught—or we once were—that every word in a poem must be there, must be necessary and right, even if ambiguous. There’s no fat on poetry’s meat—or, once upon a time there wasn’t. With some of Ruefle’s details, I wonder how much they’d be missed if omitted (keep the rooster!). But there’s a mystery of rhythm and timing in poetry (and all writing) that might say success is success, don’t mess with it. And I’ll argue that “Why I Am Not a Good Kisser” is a successful feat indeed, less frivolous than most humor and less ponderous than most serious writing.       
The Anhinga Dries His Wings (and thinks deep thoughts)


By the way, I've now heard the poet introduced as Mary ROOF-ul, and like the ROOF-lee I offered last time, the introducer was well-qualified. What's in a name, anyway? Hey, somebody should write about that. 

15 comments:

Jean Spitzer said...

Wonderful photos. Especially the first and second.

With the poem, I wandered off into the deep blue sea.

Banjo52 said...

Thanks, Jean. The poem does wander, and not everyone (not many?) will enjoy the ride, I suspect. I hope you got a smile or two. I fell so completely for the title that I wanted to make sense of all the parts and their connection to the whole. I haven't succeeded yet, but I've enjoyed the journeys. I'm not sure I'll ever feel confident about the concluding moccasin.

altadenahiker said...

I liked the opening, but it slumped for me in the middle. Felt like it was trying too hard.

Banjo52 said...

AH, those are both such important concerns. I've abandoned a lot of reading because of slumping middles, and trying too hard is so tricky--being or seeming natural, no matter how many revisions or how difficult the project is so much easier said than done. Thanks.

altadenahiker said...

But your photos are fabulous.

Banjo52 said...

Thank you. Too bad the pelican isn't sharper, but I love his pose. I told him to jump, and he said How High . . .

Banjo52 said...

Thank you. Too bad the pelican isn't sharper, but I love his pose. I told him to jump, and he said How High . . .

Stickup Artist said...

That was one of the weirdest, quirkiest, and therefor for me, one of the most engrossing pieces of writing I've read in a long, long time. I could never put those thoughts and words together...

Banjo52 said...

Stickup, it seems that one of the greatest compliments a writer can hear from another writer is, "I wish I'd written that." Your last sentence is pretty close to that. Also, many might also like "weirdest and quirkiest" and certainly "engrossing."

RuneE said...

I must admit that I got hung up in the one word that Norway regrettably contributed to the international vocabulary. Maybe that is why I got lost. But I enjoyed the series of photos - all of potential "kissers" ending up with a pair on the beach. Not coincidental - I think?

Banjo52 said...

Rune, thanks, and you're right, not coincidental. I'm afraid I don't know the one word Norway contributed . . .

Pasadena Adjacent said...

I get it and I am it. When writing is enjoyable for me, is when it goes into this swirl. Where one thought picks up on the tread of another thought and ideas are all over the map. It is ADD - and I've been on and off Ritalin since I was 8.

I liked your sentence

"There’s no fat on poetry’s meat"

Banjo52 said...

PA, thanks. I'm glad you weighed in on this subject, Most of us are prone to distractibility of one kind or another, so in this poem, writing and thinking like Ruefle might be a matter of degree, not kind. How much one enjoys the ride (see AH's comment) is very subjective, I bet.

RuneE said...

Re my comment: Google Quisling ...

Hannah Stephenson said...

I think she is wonderful! So weird and utterly delightful. When poems are so unpredictable (but also enjoyable), that is what I admire. Thanks for sharing this poem.

I thought "ROOF-uhl," by the way...will be interested in finding out if that's right!

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