February 22, 2010

Back and Forth

Karen gave me a list of books of poetry that may be relevant to my interests based on what she knew about my own book I was looking at. I didn’t really know what to expect: she hadn’t really see the fairly… sexual side of the book yet. However, if I was going to make this my thesis, I needed to be able to place it in the conversation of poetry. I needed to read more, and her list seemed a good place to start. I ordered up used copies of the more interesting ones on Amazon, to check them out.

Well, I just finished reading Enough Said: a Poetry Dialog Between Father and Son by Michael and Kiev Rattee, and it was pretty fantastic.

There are definite things about it that make it very different from what I am trying to accomplish. My book is two characters, and these are two actual people. This works in a back and forth style, and my book gives all of one side, and then the other. But when I opened up the strangely-built book (the back says that only 250 of these were created, by hand, with a weird printing press, and I would believe it. The texture of the pages is really weird and wonderful, and you can see where it is actually sewn together in the middle. It’s pretty cool.) and read the first poem, “Big Things,” I completely saw glimmers of what I was trying to do in it. It was filled with direct conversation with the other party spliced with poetic images and ideas, and it was just fantastic. I was in love.

From there, the book deviates from that feeling. Michael and Kiev seem to play off of the key image or idea in each other’s work, giving their own spin, and keeping a conversation going. It’s really interesting, though I admit that I missed the direct contact between the two after the first. The conversation turned almost completely to poetic metaphor, with figures standing in for the authors and whatnot. There was nothing wrong with that, really. Many of them were completely excellent poems. But the ones that resonated more with me were poems that more directly expressed their connection, such as “The Sky Is Full” which ends with the lines “as I should have said / I guess at the beginning” which just feels so… real to me. It establishes a connection that I just love seeing, and also works with the theme of the poem, which is talking about how the sky tricks, and Michael is admitting that how he lays out the poem also tricks away from the real meaning. It’s very open and heartwarming. It’s a real emotion there. It means a lot. I loved seeing that throughout the book.

It also spikes near the end, where Kiev apparently was slow in responding, and we get a gentle poetic prod, followed by a lovely poem by Kiev called “Silence,” which is just a perfect end to his side of the conversation. “I’ve talked all evening / with it caught in my throat” Fucking perfect. You can fill the air, but it’s not necessarily with substance. It’s the silence that’s important, at times, and you can’t get it out in the right way.

I feel like I need to read it again to really “get” everything completely? But good poems work that way. To really dig into them, you need to read them multiple times. But the truly good poems still leave you with a strong feeling that first time, and most of this book does this. It’s pretty great.

Makes me look forward to digging into what else Karen suggests for me.

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