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February 15, 2004


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Steve Tills
Well, the first "poem" has some big problems, for me: (1)it's just prose, and there is nothing wrong with "prose," per se, but WHY would anybody want or need to pass it off as poetry; (2)there is NOTHING at all poetic about it; the linebreaks don't create any extra syntactical nuances; there is nothing in the language or the scoring on the page that produces any kind of extra energy or events or sensations; instead, all of the words simply march to monochrome, one-dimensional meanings that are summed up at the end-punctuation (periods and semi-colons); (3)in addition, the author apparently directs this at a narrow, conventional, traditional readership evidentally eternally turned on by concepts like "God" and cliche terms like "truth" and "beauty" and "afterlife." But anyways, the real problem is NOT a super-biggie: that it really doesn't have a lot of "poetry" to it, that it's essentially just poetry randomly arranged on the page to affect being "lines" or a form that is, at the most "automatic" and "superficial" levels, generally taken to be poetry. Unfortunately, if this thing were on the page as a prose paragraph, or if the line breaks were changed, the piece would essentially be exactly the same, and nothing would be lost or gained by such other rearrangement. Essentially, one CANNOT rearrange most real poetry without having significant loss/modification of its true being. Like, you know the old cliche, "poetry cannot be paraphrased?" Same goes for scoring on the page. Since real poetry generally uses line breaks to affect intense enhancement of "meaning nuances" BETWEEN words and phrases inside sentence units AS WELL AS meaning nuances at the ends of sentence units, and this "poem" doesn't have ANY discernibly NECESSARY LINEBREAK (not a one, as far as I could see, and there are, what, 24 opportunities, yes?) at all, well, WHAT'S THE HECK IS POETICAL ABOUT THAT?
Wendy Babiak
I confess I prefer the first. I find it melodious, and it embraces the same agnosticism (and betrays the same love of the natural) that I do.
Daniel Nester
I know I'm supposed to say the second, but chopping up consciousness doesn't equal a poem that makes something happen. Except, of course, a chopped-up consciousness, which is good enough for some. And as far as the first, the comment begs the question: who cares if something isn't needed to be discussed? Is poetry a student-centered classroom? It is not. The poet is in charge of the poem. The reader is invited, yes, but not necessarily invited to, like, collaborate in meaning. Sometimes, yes, but this is simply not that kind of poem. It's a meditation. My shibboleth about the first is the anthropomorphism, the idea that a fucking cow can reflect our consciousness. I go with the first, irrespective of the bull, cow, whatever.
*tosses 2 cents into the bucket* The first one's a nice little essay, although it doesn't exactly screech 'POETRY' in a loud voice to me, and doesn't really leave much to be, hmmm, *discussed* since the poet's done all the work already. The second doesn't resonate with me, but I'm also an old and stodgy gen-x'er, so whadda I know? Obviously, despite my apparent alignment with a lot of 'quieter' works, I find the second to be more valuable. I don't *like* it, but that's not very important to me, given the choices. How much a kid *likes* a piece immediately upon reading it, and how important that is to his or her appreciation of it, though, may be another story.

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