Sunday, April 10, 2011

More on Lockward's Temptation by Water

This is not a review, by the way. I don't write reviews. I can't get that magisterial tone. Or rather, I can get it all too easily, so I prefer not to put myself in the way of temptation. Nothing could be sillier than someone who knows as little about contemporary poetry as I do making pronouncements about it.

You know, to tell the truth, I am often horrified by Lockward's poems. I'm afraid she'll write one about me, and it will be called “To a Potato,” and I will have to find a small space to crawl into and die.
Bit of a bother, actually, and rather dull on your own,
always in need of enhancement.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph defend us. You know you're in trouble even before the anathema:
You are a fat, dirty spud, a misshapen blob
of starch, carbohydrates, and useless calories,
disreputable nightshade, consort to blight and famine.

The Potato has a second coming in this book:
The Jesus Potato
. . .
She envies women the signs in their munchibles
The St Petersburg woman who saw Jesus in a potato
chip, crisp wafer preserved like a relic, but salted.

It's things like “but salted,” at the end of that line, that prevent me from being an atheist. I simply don't believe that a merely human mind could come up with something so clever, unexpected, and right. More things in heaven and earth.

One of my favorite poems so far is “When Pigs Flee.” There's something of a punk Blake about Lockward. She runs amok. This celebration of the porcine body, and of the escape from bondage, is very Blakean, both in its thoroughgoing radicalism, and its location squarely within Christianity. At the same time that she is blasting church and piety, her language goes inevitably to sin (though never, so far, to redemption.) Her escaped hog is more gleeful at trampling convention than any merely feral animal could ever be. I'd set a video montage of “When Pigs Flee” to Joan Jett singing “I love Rock n Roll.” You can't be a bad girl without someone to call you one.


Zhoen said...

I think I might like this poet.

Dave said...

"There's something of a punk Blake about Lockward. She runs amok."
Now to my mind, this is how all book reviews or reader responses should be written. The fact that you're not terribly well-versed (har!) in contemporary poetry, but have an unusualy solid background in the Englsih poetry tradition, gives your reactions a freshness and a certain kind of authority, whether you choose to own the latter or not. Anyway, thanks for helping me see the book in a new light, and I look forward to your further installments.

Luisa Igloria said...

I love your punk reviews, Dave! :) Please do not crawl into a potato hole to die.

Luisa Igloria said...

Ugh, I meant, for that last one, Dale, Dale, Dale, DALE!!! Mea culpa. *I* shall climb into a potato hole. Though Dave is punk reviewer too.

Dale said...

Plenty of people call me Dave, with less excuse, Luisa. It's Dave you need to be apologizing to :-)

ntexas99 said...

Not being someone who can carry on an intelligent conversation when it comes to poetry or poets, I can only offer this - when looking at poetry through your eyes, given that you obviously have a healthy appreciation for the process as well as first-hand knowledge of the creative genius behind the making of a poem, (or is it simply allowing it to exist when it struggles to be seen?), anyway, where was I???? Oh yes, when I go about trying to learn something about poetry through the gift of your unique lens, it makes me want to know much more. It makes poetry something that is alive.

Still I'm stumbling over my words. I've never been a fan of poetry, (just could not understand it), but something about the way you talk about poetry, makes me want to lean in a bit closer and eavesdrop, hoping to hear another secret.

Dale said...

Ah, watch out, Nancy! That's how it starts :-)