I wanted to ﬁll my elegy with light of all kinds. But death makes us stingy.
Back when I was making a concerted eﬀort to read more poetry, I enjoyed a few of Anne Carson’s books. I haven’t been spending much time in bookstores, or reading for that matter. But recently forces converged, and I noticed this boxed accordion-style book one place and was intrigued, then happened to ﬁnally check out McNally Jackson Books the same week Anne Carson was scheduled to read there.
There’s a part in this article about owner Sarah McNally where she talks about uninspired author readings, so it’s not surprising that this event was not just a straight-up reading, but included a discussion...more
For whatever reason, this collection didn’t strike me as much as Modern Life did. But there were poems I liked.
The Crowds Cheered as Gloom Galloped Away
Everyone was happier. But where did the sadness go? People wanted to know. They didn’t want it collecting in their elbows or knees then popping up later. The girl who thought of the ponies made a lot of money. Now a month’s supply of pills came in a hard blue case with a handle. You opened it & found the usual vial plus six tiny ponies of assorted shapes & sizes, softly breathing in the Styrofoam. Often they had to be pried out & would wobble a little...more
I remembered reading Louise Glück before but I didn’t go back and refresh my memory on what I said about The Seven Ages until after I read this book. I think I have to deduce that I’m not that into her poetry as I could almost say the exact thing this time around.
The title refers to the lake in Naples, Italy regarded by the ancient Romans as the entrance to the underworld, so the poems are largely about the areas between death and life with many winter themes. Interesting and not unlikeable but underwhelming for me.more
There are many interesting takes on “modern” life in this collection of poems. From the kind of anachronistically futurist Robo-Boy placed in a banal contemporary setting to the militarily apocalyptic series that maps words found between future and terror in the dictionary. The two semi-abecedarian series ascend the alphabet in one and descend in the other but maintain the same sense of desolation.
The Future of Terror / 11
From the gable window, we shot...more
at what was left: gargoyles and garden gnomes.
I accidentally shot the generator
which would have been hard to gloss over
in a report except we weren’t writing reports
anymore. We ate our gruel and watched
Reading this book on the subway was probably not the best approach, but I managed to struggle through it. Auster’s earlier poems have some overwrought tendencies, but in a way all of his poems ﬁt together as a larger work, making this collected volume very useful. He’s attached to images of stones and whiteness and snow among other things, and many common images are threaded across his work. He has a tendency towards oxymoronic lines and a knack for good poetic punchlines, endings that could almost sit on their own:
that we do not dream. We wake
in the hours of sleep
and sleep through the silence
that stands over us. Summer
The mix of personal and political poems felt a little awkward at times, but I like her down-to-earth style.
POEM AFTER RECEIVING VOICEMAIL FROM YOU AFTER (I DON’T EVEN KNOW ANYMORE) HOW LONG!
Your voice and the weighted...more
stammering between us
and the train of my routine
adjustment to nothing anywhere
as your bare feet on the ﬂagstone
next to bunched up honeysuckle
blooming aromatic in the a. m.
of a daily life
we shared but never dared
to lock and key
Poetry can be pretty good reading for subway reading as it often is comprised of shorter pieces that you’re more likely to reach an even stopping point when you reach your destination. But I’m kind of out of practice in reading verse these days. The beginning of this book felt so prose-like and conversational, but by the end things ﬂowed more. I can’t really tell if that was the book or just me getting used to it. I didn’t really feel any thematic connections in the ﬁrst two sections (“Slice” and “Juice”), but the last section “Flesh” came together for me more. Again, it might have just been me.
I think this is one of my favorites:
The best parts of this anthology are the overlays of drawings that interpret the certain poems’ structures. Being that Stoner chose the poems based on her own collection, it’s not necessarily a comprehensive look at poetry that tackles themes of space, like domesticity, urbanism, and form. But it is an interesting concept — how poetry can inﬂuence architecture.
I really like this line from Thedore Roethke’s villanelle “The Waking”: “I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.”
I was a little dubious of the usage of Futura Light as the typeface, but by the end was swayed that it’s a really good choice for the book. Usually sans-serif faces are harder to read, but the thin forms actually felt more...more