tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE's Reviews > Careering Obloquy

Careering Obloquy by Michael Gottlieb
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bookshelves: poetry

This is another bk that Alan Davies gave me when I visited him recently. I've only read one other bk by Gottlieb, "Local Color/Eidetic Deniers", & I just reread my review of that to find some clues of my previous take on Gottlieb.

The 1st thing that strikes me on comparison is that the title "Eidetic Deniers" & "Careering Obloquy" seem to take a similar strategy. They're both 2 words & each pair has an almost common word coupled w/ a more uncommon one. In other words, it's somewhat easy to imagine someone saying "Oh, he's one of the deniers.." or "He's been off careering.." - but how often do you hear someone referring to a person as "eidetic" or as speaking an "obloquy"? Not often. I had to look up the latter word & here's what I got from Merriam-Webster:

Main Entry: ob·lo·quy
Pronunciation: \ˈä-blə-kwē\
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural ob·lo·quies
Etymology: Middle English obloquie, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin obloquium, from obloqui to speak against, from ob- against + loqui to speak
Date: 15th century

1 : a strongly condemnatory utterance : abusive language
2 : the condition of one that is discredited : bad repute

SO, the title sets the mood for me. It's not that I immediately expect poems about a person making a career of abusive language, but I DO imagine Gottlieb as having a sense of humor about how poets might be making a 'career' out of 'distressing' language past its ordinary uses. But that's just my spin. Take eg:

"1. Spinning Up


This smiling resemblance, this is what they dub it -

attended by a mute, iatrogenic demurral at every step.

We have been studying ruination for so long
that a kind of constructive disavowal, like a shot across the bows,
has finally come to redound upon us,

at this place where burn permits
are issued freely,

like refusal simple,

or unassayed samples,

and defiance is sent
to all the crazed finishes.

The way, over the years, we come to resemble our clay.

I wish I still had it,
that certificate of destruction."

"iatrogenic"?:

"resulting from the activity of physicians; said of any adverse condition in a patient resulting from treatment by a physician or surgeon."

It's always nice to read words I'm not familiar w/ - even if, these days, I rarely look them up or retain them anymore..

Is there "abusive language" here? IE: language referencing abuses of various sorts? "iatrogenic demurral at every step" "studying ruination" "constructive disavowal" "like a shot across the bows" "crazed finishes" "certificate of destruction"

Is Gottlieb commenting on a state of poetry? Has that "constructive disavowal" "finally come to redound upon us" making us "resemble our clay"? Or am I just "Spinning Up" from "Careering Obloquy"?
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