Abailart's Reviews > Well Enough

Well Enough by Daniel Sumrall
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Oct 21, 08

bookshelves: poetry
Read in October, 2008

Well Enough

I approached these five poems slowly. I read them a few times, read them again a few days later. Finally I read them as carefully as I am able – slowly and aloud. I like them very much. I will give them five stars. But here’s a problem: I am going against the grain, others have rated them lower. I have no idea how to rate poetry. I think it ‘must give pleasure’ (Stevens) and five stars is simply my pleasure rating. I understand something of what Carlyle meant in describing poetry as ‘musical thought’: with music, even though I studied a little theory, I have very little ability to talk about it, so too with poetry.
Here is the problem expanded: I am struck dumb by statements about poetry, I mean not about a particular poem but about some general entity called poetry. I feel intimidated by discussions of form (beyond an extremely elementary level) and so forth. If a poem ‘works’ for me I know it, and often am left admiring or respecting the craft at no higher level than thinking a sort of “wow, how did s/he do that?” That said, here are a few thoughts elicited from reading ‘Well Enough’, and doubtless some or all of them are mnemonic irrelevancies.

I like the way a commonplace is immediately elevated to a complex level, how ‘this public domain’ of language, communication, relationship is abstracted into imagery, and into mystery with values not spoken or stated occupying a realm beyond the surface of things. I know it has been claimed too that poetry itself is ‘much like a knife’s intense /precision when hands lack curative/intent’. The problem is, to anything, always, ‘how to respond’, and how to think of the private/public. the myths of an inner realm. In a moment, a nothingness of time, a response is made by association (with responses publically rehearsed) so one may refuse something (not overhear) or refuse something else (not to overhear) precisely (in order) ‘to/feel guilty by association’. Responses, emotions are, felt as private, yet are associative responses made in the public relationships of communication.
Imagery of the ‘private realm’ or imagery of the poem signifies nothing beyond the sudden revelation from the moment, nothing ‘true’, we are complicit with that only which ‘relates/images to our images’. ‘If landscape rolls out like a body’ it may as well roll our like a map, for our body too is not ‘true’ but a sort of map. Shaes of shades, some Yeatsian shadow of ‘the city’s architecture’ (and ‘the’ is more the problem than ‘architecture’), spaces ‘with or without bodies’, geometry of ‘ceaseless gyres’ and ‘Complexity of curve’. When some kind of suddness/leaves an empty space’ we are presented with that thoughtless nothingness (Plato used ‘moment’ as ‘sudden’). A springing out or revelation from a frozen (imagined) moment towards a ‘thinking entirely/without consequence.’
We do imagine time as space, we image time as space, so these poems of space and spaces (intervals are ‘between walls’) raise in their imagery another sense of time beyond the literal references, beyond the routine, the waiting, the boredom. A sudden sense, perhaps, ‘to feel alive where you are’ and not a slave to consequence and succession.


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