February 16, 2010

Dosed on Lorca

If I don't talk about my work explicitly I'm just going to preach. So I'll talk about Lorca, who I recently began reading for the first time. Not that I think I'm special. I'm not going to rename this unfamiliar continent just because I crashed my ship into it.

What I like about Lorca is that his intimacy is different from the intimacy of Plath, Sexton, Levine, etc., who divulge and dissect themselves with articulate and often barbed detail. Lorca's intimacy is that of shared myths; he seduces as the story teller. His myths are deep as archetypes and personal as fingerprints, and the seduction is not only in his voice but also in his images, which he repeats like pet names for other, more angular certainties.

I can't say if his is a cultural intimacy, expressed through touchstones and memes, or if it's more a story told by a father over the course of many evenings, full of the false-familiarity of ingenuity, a story that seems initially meandering that becomes a great epic.

That is some of what feeds the dogs. Here's an excerpt of what I worked on this morning:

Her antique ankle-coats air on the garden balcony
like deflated parade balloons, her leaked thin iterations.
She skins potatoes like she's roughly changing a baby,
one after another beneath the maternal umbra of the biloba.
Peels worm in the grass; the soup assumes a shape.
As dinner simmers, she folds up the crowd, crosses
their arms over their breasts and breaks them at the waist...

Reading Lorca also emboldens me to strike the lyric squarely and roughly, to focus on the gaps in the rhythm, and to rely on image over exposition. I'll be honest, I'm not an enormous fan of poems which are substantively paintings. Mediocre image poems are easy to churn out, but tedious to read, sounding finally like pomp or preamble to something that never materializes. Of course I'm horribly biased. My poems usually read like jingoistic jokes, or the end of that Bugs Bunny cartoon where he leaps from the train with his bindle and the sunset and says, "None of us citizens should be doing any unnecessary traveling these days." Now wasn't that a poem?

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