Monday, December 15, 2008

This is not a review

A few days ago I went to a poetry gig in Brunswick, and a little while later I left. Between those two unremarkable events I ran into Geoff Lemon selling copies of his book Sunblind, so I got one for myself.

Flicking through the poems, I found they were written in free verse, which I dislike; and that they were about things like driving and nature, which I'm mostly indifferent to. I summarily concluded that I didn't like the style and I didn't like the ideas, but I did like the poems. This seemed to mean that I disliked everything about the poetry except the poetry. This would never do...

Rereading the book closely, I found a few poems which flabbergasted me. Geoff had an occasional gift for writing free verse that had the easy grace and music of a traditional rhymed poem or structured lyric. (There's only one obvious lyric form in Sunblind, a ghazal.) I was really goggling at the two poems Foxes, and Working in Wood. Like sestinas or villanelles, they seemed to use repeated words to terminate line endings, but unlike sestinas or villanelles, those repeated words didn't seem to be arranged in any specific form. I actually made plenty of marks on my book beside these two poems and stared at them for a good half hour trying to work out if, despite appearances, Geoff was using a specific form.

All very disturbing for me, to come across a modern performance poet who actually seems aware of established poetic forms, and capable enough not to write in them while still producing good poetry. I hadn't thought such a person existed.

I'm not going to go writing free verse or anything, though. I like a good rhyme too much. And I do still wonder why the one exception in Sunblind to Geoff's preference for free verse is a ghazal. (Nowadays, almost the only verse form that most people know of and are able to write in is a Japanese haiku.) Are verse forms only acceptable when they're exotic?

Still, I ended up liking Sunblind after all. Such was my perplexity at this little volume of poems, though, that I still don't think I'm able to write a review of it. And this isn't that review.

You can get a copy of Sunblind by contacting Geoff or maybe Picaro Press.

UPDATE! - Just got feedback (mmmm, feeeeeeeed) from Geoff informing me that Working in Wood is a pantoum. There goes any cred I had with the poetic forms...


The Topiary Cow said...

"A ghazal may be understood as a poetic expression of both the pain of loss or separation and the beauty of love in spite of that pain."

Whew! Cow bows in respect to TimT's knowledge of poetic forms...


TimT said...

Not knowledge so much. I could spot that it was a form because it rhymed and had meter. Also because it was titled 'Sandakhan Ghazal'

The Topiary Cow said...

Also because it was titled 'Sandakhan Ghazal'


That was a hint....


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