Chris's Reviews > Complete Poems

Complete Poems by Marianne Moore
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's review
May 08, 12

bookshelves: books-i-teach-or-have-taught, poetry
Read from June 30, 2011 to May 08, 2012

UIL Literary Criticism selection for 11-12. Just reading selections (about 20) but half-digging them so far.

Update 5/8/12: Moore frustrated the hell out of me for a while. It takes me a while to "find the rhythm" with any deeply idiosyncratic poet, and I had to steep myself for days in Moore's line before I felt comfortable. I'm unlikely to complete the remainder of the collection. It still feels like a lot of work for frustratingly little gain. I dug around in critical materials and confirmed my suspicious: that some of the poems are simply impenetrable--hard-edged cliffs for you to bash your head against. Often I'm intrigued by such opacity (Stein leaps to mind), but here it feels more more personal, feels more like ol' Marianne's just playing keep-away with meaning out of pettiness. That said, multiple rereadings did crack a few of these open for me, and I'll carry those around with me for a long time. At her best, she's pleasantly acerbic to blisteringly caustic, and she never pulls punches. She's a helluva poet, just not my poet. My favorites: "To a Steamroller," "The Fish," "A Grave," "Nevertheless," and "In Distrust of Merits," which is now among my favorite anti-war poems.

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