Another DGP chapbook that I ordered without being familiar with the poet but very much enjoyed. The poems and pieces in here (including a funny, "impo...moreAnother DGP chapbook that I ordered without being familiar with the poet but very much enjoyed. The poems and pieces in here (including a funny, "impossible one-act poem") were very entertaining, yet addressed various issues like Jewishness, being a woman, and relationships. Many of the poems are written "for" another writer - there's one for Lydia Davis, for example, two for Russell Edson, written loosely in that author's style. By far the funniest was the one provided as a sample poem on DGP's website, "Woman to woman," which is for Alan Dann, whom I've never heard of (and cannot find on Google). In any case, it starts like this:
"A woman came up to me in Bloomingdales and said she liked my sunglasses and I told her where to get them and she said, "what do you think I am -- a millionaire?" and stomped off."
The repetition and bad manners in the poem are really quite funny. I also much enjoyed the impossible one-act poem, "Maria Stuart on Mars."
Yes, there were some wacky ones, others more serious. The first poem interested me a lot, being about Germany and Jewishness, but struck a wrong note at first. Maybe that's part of why I liked "Woman to woman" so much - the comic relief.
I recently ordered a chapbook bundle from Dancing Girl Press, a deal this micropress offers in which you order 5 chapbooks for $25. I’m a recidivist b...moreI recently ordered a chapbook bundle from Dancing Girl Press, a deal this micropress offers in which you order 5 chapbooks for $25. I’m a recidivist bundler because it’s a good way to read new, often little-known poets. (Disclaimer: they’ve also published two chapbooks of mine.)
(Talking Doll) has been the best of this bundle so far. It’s a cohesive, deeply imagined collection of poems that is less about a talking doll than about inventiveness, including the doll’s inventor, who appears to be Thomas Edison.
It’s always a gamble when you buy a chap/book of poetry by a poet you never read before. And it’s wonderful when the writing is assured; it flows, not without surprises, but without snags or awkwardness. Even better when it’s engaging and original. I truly felt I was in expert hands even though there are syntactical jumps, irregular punctuation and capitalization. It all worked for me.
Some of the poems from the “banquet” section were inspired by Light’s Golden Jubilee, a party celebrating the 50th anniversary of the light bulb’s invention, attended by “The men who invented wealth.” You can listen to the poet read a poem from this section here in a short video: http://jhopestein.wordpress.com/short...
Years ago my father wrote a book (1929: America Before the Crash) inspired by the very same celebration, so these poems had a lot of appeal for me personally, having grown up amid Edisonmania.
The chap opens with a poem called “The Inventor’s Last Breath,” about a test tube supposedly holding Thomas Edison’s last breath. (Is this possible?)
I loved the shorter poems “Invention of the Insomniacs,” and - -
Invention of Light Bulbs Hand Massage, 1890
She rubs the factory from his palms salutes each finger like an admiral - Removes the ring and begins on the bark of his hands. It feels good to him when it’s off & she makes putty from elbow to finger. She slips the ring back on. (It feels good to him when it’s on) & how he finds himself by daylight.
I liked the concept, topic and structure of this. Some of it was very amusing. Being an atheist myself, I identified most with theVirginal Atheist, wh...moreI liked the concept, topic and structure of this. Some of it was very amusing. Being an atheist myself, I identified most with theVirginal Atheist, who thinks it’s all or nothing. I used to be like that on the flip side, back when I was trying to convince myself I believed in god. I thought the Virginal Atheist worked very well, showing a kind of internal, moralistic control freak. The last image is terrific, with him spitting out the word ‘atheist,’ and its looking like a pearl, and his not being in the least surprised.
Most of these start out with the same, simple structure, which could be likened to a child’s alphabet book:
The virginal atheist thinks that belief should remain untouched… The quietest atheist is actually an oak tree… The token athesist has a grudge… The child atheist grew up in Berkeley, CA…. The gentlemen atheist dates a Christian…
I enjoyed some of the observations here, like “the token atheist has a grudge against god, which means that god exists and the atheist is already wrong.” I also enjoyed the creativity: “The kevlar atheist believes he is ten foot tall and bullet proof.”
Some of it seemed less successful. The token athesist, for example, whom you’d expect to be kind of blasé, becomes a nihilistic atheist and then falls in love and goes to church with his lover, finally believing “God is love.” I had a couple arguments with that. In my mind a token atheist doesn’t have to go through transformations; he just has to doubt, look at the usual arguments for and against the existence of god, and come out on the downside. (But, hey, arguing is fun and thinking is the upside of reading.)
Considering at least two of us have read this book since Nina pointed out it can be downloaded, I can only laud the idea of FREE ebooks as an effective strategy of getting your poetry read.
Elsewhere, the perennial grammatical peeve unfortunately appears in this chapbook, the dreaded lay vs. lie problem:
“… he suspects under that brittle veneer of piety lays a powerful atheist.”
And “they lay in bed … one whispers into the other’s ear…”
Now if that second one had been past tense it would have been grammatically correct. Bloop! It does annoy me when people get lie and lay wrong. One can forgive the layman (no pun intended), or Eric Clapton, but writers who supposedly care about language should take better care. (less)
This is a wonderful chapbook that I bought on a whim and for which I was richly rewarded. To be honest when it arrived I thought I wouldn’t like it. T...moreThis is a wonderful chapbook that I bought on a whim and for which I was richly rewarded. To be honest when it arrived I thought I wouldn’t like it. The title struck me suddenly as pompous, and the cover design gave me a “huh?” moment. But the poems are great – sad and funny, heavy in a sneaky, casual way. More than once I was brought to tears.
When I got to the poem “Faking It” I realized I’d read the poem years ago in an issue of Barrow Street and had even written the poet to say how much I liked it. Even so, many of the poems in this chapbook were even better than “Faking It,” which begins –
“My girlfriend has multiple orgasms. I’m not sure who is giving her these orgasms, but she’ll come home with a grocery sack and drop them on the table –
they look like tiny doorknobs made of bronze.”
Some of the poems have line breaks and stanzas but many of them appear on the page more like prose poems. “Faking It,” for example, starts off “shaped like prose” but then becomes poem. None of this bothered me. All the poems were inviting.
Among my favorites was “Redundancy of Light,” which starts seemingly serious and turns funny –
“Outside this hotel room rain falls as pure as its definition. Call the French, tell them
there should be a word for shadows of raindrops on a hotel window.”
Many of the poems, and there are only 17, refer to film or particular films. One starts with George Bailey from “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and another one of my favorites is “Quitclaim of the Wizard of Oz.” There’s another called “Film Noir” and another with the long long title “Gratuitous Voice-Over at the End of a Film Reflecting on the Tribulations of the Plot and Coming Finally to an Epiphany.”
This is one of the best –if not the best- poetry collection I’ve read this year. It’s one of those in which everything in me said “yes.”
Here’s a link to a poem (the George Bailey one) at 42Opus and a second one also from the book published at Diagram:
This ebook consists of 10 poems, and the titles are marvelous, from “my wound is a simmering punctuation mark” to “this leak is an everlasting stain”...moreThis ebook consists of 10 poems, and the titles are marvelous, from “my wound is a simmering punctuation mark” to “this leak is an everlasting stain” to “drain has become a worthy depth.” The series of poems is built upon the concrete, as you can see in the titles – drain, leak, born – and each poem is structured in the same way. There’s a lone word that triggers the next line, for example from the beginning of the first poem: * salt that left you wondering about what kindling
gash does it to smile, that you though, maybe in the sunken morning * I appreciated the words as anchors, to hold me as I launched into each line, since I often felt I didn’t know where I was going, which can be good. But often I didn’t know where I’d just been, which was sometimes frustrating. Not that I’m not a friend of mystery. I love mystery that takes me somewhere, but in places I felt closed out of these poems. In “distraction is the blankest shape,” for example –
triangle character style fast menu
square twice alive not wearing monster
In those lines, and at other points in the series, I was at sea. Maybe some of the closing out is intentional, since the ravaging of miscarriage is personal, even if you want someone to understand. The poem “the stone now is my wall” likely acknowleges this – the cold stone, the building materials, the rocks “that keep me honest.”
In the second poem, “born is the cleanest foliage,” the anchor words are "egg/ bowl/ nest/ dead/ leaf/ egg/ bowl/ nest/ dead/ leaf.” This poem is spare and clear. “Nest” is both “a tapestry” at the same time it “flew into tornado and glass,” while “egg / cannot be likened to a tree” and “was there but happened too quickly.”
There were points that were exquisite and I knew exactly what the poet was saying. In some cases it couldn’t have been clearer, such as this harrowing pairing - * carnage who knew it could be so minute
cage feeling an avalanche between my hips
new it is not an erasure. giant weight of your own growth * I admired this short collection and, for all its cool tone, it is emotional poetry. (less)
I think "Lampblack & Ash" (4 stars) is much better than this chapbook, but still this also gets four stars. Still, if you're looking to read Simon...moreI think "Lampblack & Ash" (4 stars) is much better than this chapbook, but still this also gets four stars. Still, if you're looking to read Simone Muench, go for the other book first. And if you then can't get enough, go for this, too. (less)
I come from a family peppered with electricians and found this very good... not that that should be important, but it was to me. I'd never read Jen Ty...moreI come from a family peppered with electricians and found this very good... not that that should be important, but it was to me. I'd never read Jen Tynes before and didn't know what to expect. I was pleased and delighted, really. Also a very good example of a chapbook that hangs together well thematically. (less)
Wow, I am truly impressed. Some startling and powerful poems, written in a sure hand. I especially liked "Pod," "Hereafter, Lions," "The Rider" and "L...moreWow, I am truly impressed. Some startling and powerful poems, written in a sure hand. I especially liked "Pod," "Hereafter, Lions," "The Rider" and "Les Yeux Sans Visage."(less)