Thursday, August 19, 2010

On Stephen Dobyns

This guy has published lots of poems, novels, even a cool book of poetry essays.

I was stoked to find his book Cemetery Nights used (twice!) at bookstores in Denver. Denver must not like that book as much as I do, though I already have it in the pretty cool collection Velocities.

I bought one of the copies for Jeremy. I wish I would have gotten the other copy for someone.

I think Dobyns' poems will surprise people. Describing them is not like reading them. Narrative, strange imagination, in-line rhyming. Okay, well, maybe good. But yes, the majority of Dobyns' poems make me awestruck at the power of plain-spoken language.

But also, his use of questions sticks out to me, as I've been reading his collection Pallbearers Envying The One Who Rides.

Hey! That is an excellent title.

The first and third sections are about a character named Heart (gag, I know) who is an actual organ (gag) in a surreal way. He examines the nature of love, of forgiveness, etc. (gag!). Some cool stuff, but really not like his other stuff.

I blame a bad idea that was ran with.

I don't know if I want to read the third section.


The questions he uses, poses, constructs rule too, making me think about how I can use questions to guide my own writing (living?).

Here are four from that section:

"Is this what we see when we drive down the street? Men and women stuck to their porches, fabric of skin and fabric of home grown to be one, brains become the mental ditto marks of deck chairs?"

"I too like my memories but their caloric content is nil. Whoever got fat eating the past?"

"Where would we be if the book lacked a binding and the pages flew like birds about the room?"

"It's time to mingle your shoes with the buyers and sellers, one foot forward, then the next. The reality? To bang your drum in the mortal parade. And the dream? To believe yourself dancing." (the end)

It feels like Dobyns wants me here, reading, to interact more than merely read.

I'm thinking I'm thinking and that is good.

Dobyns had a piece in one of the early issue of The Collagist.

I'm still not sure I'm going to read the last section, more about Heart. Though maybe eventually.

The Best of (What's Left of) Heaven by Mairead Byrne sounds good.


Layne said...

"Whoever got fat eating the past?" is a good sentence.

Tyler G said...

YES! He writes some really cool ones, especially sentences. You read him?

Tyler G said...
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