Monday, March 7, 2011

Paragraphs About 4 Books I Read Recently

Tasker Street by Mark Halliday

Not the Halliday book I bought at the reading, but contains my favorite poem from that evening: Ode: The Capris; Having read this book and Little Star, two of Halliday's earliest works, and having heard and read many of his newer poems, I'm realizing his older stuff connects with me more; hIs sincere approach to narrative, through a talkative tone and straightforward presentation of images and emotions, captivates me; at once, he seems to defy poetic conventions by recreating them in this tug-o-war of recognizability and freshness.

Skid by Dean Young

One of the final Dean Young books I haven't read; these poems fall somewhere in between the rawness of the things I love in First Course and Strike Anywhere and the established-voice-trying-new-things that sometimes puzzles sometimes excites me in his later books; of course not a poem in here I didn't find cool lines or an energetic approach that pushed me towards a migraine; rather, I sometimes feel as if Dean's attempt to balance his natural approach and attempts to push his aesthetic results in something a little too jumbled to take me to that level I love in poems like "Frottage"; favorites in this book include "Brighthead," "Whale Watch," "Action Figuring," and "Pulse."

Lighthead by Terrance Hayes

I totally see how this book could win the National Book Award; it has that meshing of political awareness, personal exploration, and balance of humor and deep material; though it wouldn't be my choice; Hayes connects with me most when sincerity seems like the driving principle exposing his situation; for instance, the opening poem, "Lighthead's Guide to the Galaxy," knocked me out; its association, its opening of "Ladies and gentlemen, ghosts and children of the state" as a point of entry, its beautiful balance of meditation and imagery; while at times he missed me with his approach, the times Hayes vividly describes his situation and compounds that with exposure of his mind and heart floored me; other poems that do this: "Shakur," "The Avocado," and "Arbor for Butch."

Starting From San Francisco by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

I've heard people say that Ferlinghetti published one excellent book, A Coney Island of the Mind, (YES IT IS GREAT), and other just-okay books; this book fell into the latter for me, for sure; at times, the beautiful charm and energy of Ferlinghetti, which make him such a respected literary person, drive the poems, like how they carry him to great heights in Coney Island; but other times, Ferlinghetti loses me in his experimentation, his run-away style of pushing the joke/metaphor/point, and seeming disregard for connectivity; a poem like "Euphoria," with its repetition of "As I approach the state of euphoria" and its striking sense of addition of pieces, stays with me, buries within me; however, a poem like "Tentative Description of a Dinner to Promote the Impeachment of President Eisenhower" chunks itself away from the title with obscurities and disengaging non-sequiturs; while Ferlinghetti holds a special place in my heart already as a poet and friend of literature, this book did nothing greater than make me remember how fantastic Coney Island is.

Also, I'm gonna try to read a book of poems a day over Spring Break and blog about each of those. Additionally, I'm gonna try to catch up on some blog topics I've been meaning to get to, including the greatness of Smalldoggies Magazine, Stoked Press news, the next Independent Study post (about Mark Neely's chapbook), and more.

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