Thursday, April 02, 2009

the cruelest month review series #2

a few weeks ago i received s.f. poet patrick dunagan's chap from chansonniers published by blue press books. i've long admired dunagan's work from what i've mostly online and was happy to get this chap. i've read it now at least four times and if that doesn't give you a hint at my admiration for this collection i don't know what will.

it is a collection of love poems addressed to an unnamed beloved. if the poems get a bit weak at times as a result of the lover's unrequited ardor they make up for it in tensile strength from the lines and the poet's overall craftsmanship. to my eyes dunagan studied not just old wcw but also the playful structures of post-war european poetry. the lines fold into each with out drowning out meaning. the acoustics echo feeling as they tightly control it as well. the endstops are pushed out into the lines as if inertia is propelling the words forward. take for example these concluding lines of a poem:

being you is the reward of poetry the you
& you know me as you are red or pale fading
re-affirming coming on strong or quietly
a belt on a pair of jeans longing rides upon

there are probably technical terms for what dunagan is doing with caesuras and endstops and line-breaks here. no small matter because the magic is found in the poet's technique. yet, if ever i need an example of the poems reading the reader as much as the reader taking in the poems then this chap illuminates my admiration for a poetry that dares to be bold in emotion as it trusts in language to create some dazzling effects. dunagan's love poetry soothes the mind as it sharpens the ear. these poems reminds me a bit of the music of the contemporary neo-punk band yeah yeah yeahs. a guitar, a caterwaul and a set of drums exploding the structures of the three-minute pop song. again, the poems read the reader as i struggle for a comparison in music. and i don't know how to label this sort of poetry other than say it is new and refreshing with a timeless sound. labels suck anyway. let me just stick with calling it poetry.

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