Monday, September 08, 2008

Poems of the Day - 8

I missed out the weekend, days 6 and 7, but I'm back again for a new week of poems. On Poetry Daily, there’s Springs by Philip Levine. I really like his poetry. I associate him with plain diction and narrative, but it’s less straightforward than it looks and what he says usually feels authentic rather than merely clever (although it often is clever too). In this poem, I find a sense of nostalgia, an interplay between earth and heaven, time and eternity, and slightly surreal tree and plant images – the elm and the rose – which are echoed towards the end when:

That world stamped into separate
but equal steel leaves we called

So much for “the music of eternity”, which reveals itself as only the mundane agendas of the presses. There are plenty of subtle undercurrents in this poem if you look for them. I’m not too sure about the ending. Like in Floyd Skloot’s poem featured last Friday, it’s important that Levine avoids making some big statement or fake epiphany, but this poem just stopped, as if it didn’t quite know what else to do. 3½/6

No Tell Motel starts a new week with Micki Myers’s Hedy Lamarr, Liz Taylor, and Elizabeth II Meet in the Ladies Room. Judging by the author’s statement, the poems will all be about people from different historical periods meeting up in unlikely contemporary surroundings, which sounds to me like a good idea.

The quote above today’s poem, from Hedy Lamarr, is so good that it would be hard to write a poem to match it:

“Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.”

The women check out each other and make their judgements in silence – husbands, beauty, jewels – then there’s Hedy Lamarr’s regret at riches lost. But she remembers she is dead and communication becomes impossible. The irony is that she introduced the possibility of this communication technology. It’s quite a chatty tone, but the undertone is that of weighing up life’s achievements, possessions and glamour, and assessing them in the context of what lies after. But from that after, nothing can be communicated. The poem is an enjoyable read. I liked the first lines, and thought “their nerve” was a good choice in L6. I felt that the first few lines of S2 entered just too enthusiastically into prose territory, and wasn’t really bowled over by the conclusion, although it’s effective enough, I suppose. 3/6

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