Friday, September 12, 2008

Poems of the Day - 12

The end of week 2. I’ve decided to take two weeks off doing this and then return for a further two weeks. Just so I have time to do a few things that need done and to blog about a few things that are on my mind.

What loves, takes away by Eleanor Wilmer is this morning’s offering at Poetry Daily. Another gloomy one. The premise is that love “takes away what it aims/ to preserve.” Resistance against the inevitable is futile according to the final stanza, although I suppose there is a glimpse of hope in the brief “brilliance and heat” the sparks can create before they turn to ash. The poem takes the form of a meticulously structured argument. The poet knows what she wants to say and makes the poem say it. The strongest part for me was the bridge between the penultimate and final stanzas:

to do more than wear down the marble
steps to the altar, smother the fire
we would keep from the wind's extinction,
..................................................or if, afraid
of our fear, we lift the lid from the embers…

Whether we smother or lift (“afraid of our fear” is very good), things end up the same. However (and this may be a matter of taste?), I found this poem very clinical. Its use of “we”, positing a truth that includes myself, the reader, produced only resistance within me. I also had a serious problem with the use of the mother-and-baby imagery juxtaposed between the mythological Venus and the art image. The dreadful human tragedy of a mother inadvertently causing the death of a baby is equal in terms of argument to a smile being wiped off a painting! The images all contribute to the poem’s argument, as if that’s their only use.

The phrase “here is the place to fall/ silent” (nice line-break) effects a sense of poignancy, but what place? There is no context here at all, as if the reader is being kept at a remove. I’m sure the writer was attempting to convey an authentic emotion, but there’s no sense of real human suffering in this at all, just a theory of suffering – an “if” poem. The concluding image of ash is surely a tired cliché. The editors of Poetry obviously didn’t agree with my assessment, as they published it. So, if you want to be published in Poetry, ignore me! 2/6

Interesting one from Micki Myers at No Tell Motel. The two stanzas of New Spectacles, 1727 both parallel and contrast one another. It’s clever stuff, and the imagery in both stanzas is effective, illustrating the potential beauty and ugliness involved in ‘seeing’. The final phrases in both poems give a particularly strong sense of contrast. A strong end to the week for Micki Myers, whose poems I have found quite enjoyable and well-structured. 3½/6

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