Thursday, July 26, 2012

Poetry Round-Up

Books Reviewed: Duties of an English Foreign Secretary, b Macgregor Card; The Difficult Farm, by Heather Christle; The Cloud Corporation, by Timothy Donnelly; Nick Demske, by Nick Demske

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 in the last couple weeks:

Duties of an English Foreign Secretary:  I picked this up at AWP based solely on the awesome title.  I liked the book, although I didn't necessarily love it.  Reading the poems aloud actually helped me enjoy them more, as Card has a wonderful sense of sound/music.  The poems manage to be contemporary and old-timey at the same time, as if they were written on a sepia-toned word processor.  I tended to like the poems when they were at their most varied, as I don't have the patience for some of the repetition Card uses here.  Overall, though, a pretty enjoyable read.  Poems I particularly liked here: "I Am the Teacher of Athletes," "To Friend-Tree of Counted Days," "The Libertine's Punishment," "Together We Shall Win the Title of Bluebeard," and "Shipfilm."

The Difficult Farm:  I had never heard of Christle until I picked up The Difficult Farm last week from the pile of books my friend Drew assigned to me over the summer.  I'm glad I read it.  I really liked this book.  The poems are weird and funny and occasionally beautiful.  There's a real warmth in Christle's work that I find lacking in a lot of contemporary poetry.  Poems I particularly liked here: "Variations on an Animal Kingdom," "What an Undertaker Does to His Family at Night," "Cocorico," "Because the Limit Seeks Its Own," and "Wilderness with Two Men."

The Cloud Corporation:  This is a long poetry book, coming in at almost 150 pages.  It's easy to see why it's so long once you encounter Donnelly's verbosity.  Donnelly is clearly a poet who loves words and ideas and teasing out the impossible logic of a thought.  He's a "thinking" poet, whatever I mean by that.  Sometimes, this makes for some delightfully smart reading.  At other times, it made me a little sleepy.  There was a time when I probably would have been more of a Donnelly fan, but my taste in poetry (particularly my recent obsession with brevity and my newfound love of style/tone/mood) has changed a lot the last year.  I would still recommend The Cloud Corporation, especially to die-hard poetry or language lovers, even if I wasn't always impressed by the sheer size and scope of it.  Poems I particularly liked here: "The New Hymns," "Fun for the Shut-In," "His Apologia," "Globus Hystericus," and "Chapter for Not Dying Again."

 Nick Demske:  Okay, of these four books, this one is my least favorite.  I really appreciate this book for existing.  The way Demske uses sonnets (particularly his end-rhymes, which are genius) is kind of amazing.  But I found I forgot a lot of the poems as soon as I finished them.  Outside of a couple poems, it wasn't a book that will probably stick with me, unfortunately.  Poems I particularly liked here: "Common Sense," "Put Your Face in My Tongue," "As a Dog Returneth to Vomit" (one of the better poems I've encountered about poetry-writing lately), "They All Lived," and "Fully Dressed in an Empty Bathtub." 

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