I've now read (one,two) three poetry collections from poets who originally posted their writing on tumblr. I'm probably never doing it again. I'm genI've now read (one,two) three poetry collections from poets who originally posted their writing on tumblr. I'm probably never doing it again. I'm generalizing right now, but these three collections have many of the same flaws. And they seem to be written for an "internet culture" if I may call it that. A culture where poetry is posted so it can be quickly read and reblogged or otherwise shared, it's made to resonate with as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, which means the quality suffers. They're poems made for quick, easy, shallow consumption.
I'd love to read a good poetry collection from a tumblr/blogger poet. If you ever find one, let me know.
I expected more from this than I did 'Home' because I recall liking Ashe Vernons poetry whenever I came across it online. Turns out I've either been lucky with the poems I've read (or I've been the kind of reader I described above, someone who quickly read it, thought it sounded okay and never thought about it again) or it's that I can enjoy her poems when I read them on their own, but as soon as they show up next to each other it becomes apparent they don't quite work.
Mostly what's lacking is clarity or unity in imagery. I'm not saying to use only one image in a given poem, but do not, as Vernon does, stack them on top of each other endlessly. Each line seems to present a new form of abstract imagery until I couldn't picture it in my head at all. I had to give up understanding what was going on in nearly every poem because they were too much. Sometimes the images made sense, more often they didn't.
Every sentence seemed to be written with the thought that it could be taken out of context and exist as a poem on its own. There seemed to be a focus on making every line memorable and hard-hitting, which meant no lines ended up being either of those things. I simply had no idea what the hell was going on in each poem, I had no idea what they were trying to get at or even what emotion or experience they were trying to convey. My number one feeling in reading this collection was confusion, the second was frustration. In fact I got so exhausted trying to understand anything that I just skimmed the last third of the book.
I struggle to recall a single poem that stood out to me, that I remember. I can think of only one, and even that I don't remember in full, but it's her father, and it very nearly works. It has lines like this:
"We found you cold, Dad. You were one room over - ten feet away, Dead while I was sleeping,"
That's an extremely specific image, there's nothing flowery about it, and that's what makes it work. I see it very clearly in my head, and I'm heartbroken by it. The rest of the poem is ruined somewhat by lines like this,
"EMTs stormed the house Like a disaster response team - Covered the place, like cleanup from a hurricane - Nobody told them you took the hurricane with you when you stopped breathing."
Which I think would have worked beautifully if Vernon had stuck to the tangible and not gone into hurricane metaphors and imagery, because it takes from the immediacy, it removes it from what I can picture in my head - and the real, physical image of a house covered in EMTs is enough. It hits hard as it is.
I remember little from this book. All the poems bled together in a torrent of images upon images that constantly replaced each other and never really made an impact. I wish for clarity, more tangible images, even if they may seem boring or ordinary, because they help the hard-hitting, abstract images stand out and fully impact the reader. Otherwise you end up, like here, with a book of pretty sentences, that sometimes make sense, but get tiring after a very short while, because they don't add to a full picture.
I've seen the movie that's based on this book. It was an art installation at Aros, the museum in my city (Aarhus Museum of Art). I had no idHoly shit.
I've seen the movie that's based on this book. It was an art installation at Aros, the museum in my city (Aarhus Museum of Art). I had no idea it was a book first. I thought the title sounded familiar, and this is why. It was an incredibly moving experience to see it. The different stories were split onto three huge screens in a dark, black room, so you got to watch them in random order. They were harsh, but beautiful.
We all have those authors/works we loathe, from deep within our bones, because we read them in highschool. Helle Helle is one of those authors for meWe all have those authors/works we loathe, from deep within our bones, because we read them in highschool. Helle Helle is one of those authors for me – actually, she’s the only one.
Once upon a time we read one of her shortstories for class and I hated it, as I’ve hated few other things in my life. Her style is postmodern and minimalistic and I can’t stand it. The barren sentences, stripped for emotions, and the narrative, always about something utterly trivial and banal. She writes about everyday life, about absolutely ordinary, non-expectional people and their tedious, non-expectional lives.
It made me sad. It still makes me sad. This book made me sad. However I liked it more than I thought I would, way more actually. I found myself appreciating - to an extent – the slightly detached descriptions, like you’re constantly observing people you vaguely know from a distance, but are unable to put thoughts or feelings to their actions. I found myself understanding the seeming emotionlessness of the characters, that their feelings are implied through actions, but never explicitly stated on the paper, and that there’s a certain kind of charm to it.
The problem is I’m bad at reading emotions into moments if they’re not in the text. When reading this book it seems to me the characters simply don’t feel anything, that they have no attachments to each other or the world; that they walk around like zombies, acting, but not feeling. It’s a false assumption, but I can’t stop reading it like that nonetheless.
However, I liked this book. It made me sad, and when I think of it everything is grey and wet and depressing, but I liked it. I liked the small cracks of light shining through, the small moments of almost-emotion, I liked the sometimes odd, but delightful descriptions, and tiny sentences filled with a dry, out-of-place humour. I greatly respect the tenderness and care Helle shows her characters, they may be the type of people we all silently judge on the bus, on the street, wherever, those that seem average, mediocre, at first sight. But they live full lives, too, in some way, and deserve to have their story told, even if it forces me to face my own potential mediocrity. It shows everyday people deal with everyday problems – and Helle Helle does it with great skill.
Maybe as I get older, I'll find comfort in reading about people and scenarios I recognize from my own life. We'll see.
There’s a lot to enjoy and love in Helle’s authorship. I doubt I’ll ever love it, but I definitely enjoyed it. And I found something to care for, a new appreciation. The more I think about it, the deeper my appreciation runs, and I’m grateful for that. Grateful that my highschool hate is dispelled. ...more