Sunday, May 6, 2012

Poetry Round-Up

Books Reviewed: Father of Noise, by Anthony McCann; Mercury, by Ariana Reines; Bluets, by Maggine Nelson

I read so much poetry these days that I can't possibly blog about each book.  So every once in a while, I do these round-ups to let you know what I've been reading lately. Here are three books I've read recently:

Father of Noise:  I picked this book up at the AWP conference bookfair in March, probably because I liked the factory buildings and the man on fire on the cover.  I'm a sucker for industrial imagery.  When I started Father of Noise, I wasn't sure what to think, but eventually the book taught me how to read it.  I didn't love this book the way I've loved some of the poetry I've recently read, but I certainly liked it.  McCann has a very natural, laid-back style and a strong central voice.  The poems have a really easy sense of place, which I appreciated.  Poems like "Stark Weather" and "The Young Investigators" get at the American landscape by using very simple imagery and condensed space.  Whether writing about Nebraska or New York City, McCann is always in control of his words and white space.

Mercury:  Oh boy.  Our poetry professor assigned this book for workshop, and none of us liked it.  Reines is a big deal in the contemporary poetry world, but this book just doesn't quite work.  It's huge (230+ pages!), overreaching, and not particularly interesting.  That being said, I've been told to read Reines's The Cow this summer, so you'll find out how that goes in a few weeks. 

Bluets:  My much-better-read poet friend, Drew, gave me a pile of books to read as homework this summer.  The first one I picked off the pile was Maggie Nelson's little collection of lyrical essay-poems about the color blue.  This is more than just a study of color, though.  Nelson writes about a lost lover, a friend's spinal injury, and depression through the prism of her obsession with the color blue.  It's really beautiful in parts, and it has a kind of working logic that's completely natural.  Nelson is smart and honest about emotional states, but she never teeters over the border of becoming precious.  There's a lot to like here, and I will probably be recommending this to a few people in the coming months. 

Note:  With summer and its unlimited reading possibilities here, as well as the lists of poetry books friends and professors have sent my way, there will probably be a lot of these Round-Ups in the next few months.  Consider that advanced warning for all of you non-poetry-reading Not Your Mama followers out there.

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