Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Lisa Robertson, The Men: A Lyric Poem

Lisa Robertson and Carol Mirakove closed the Segue Reading Series at the Bowery on Saturday, and what a finale it was. I had never heard Mirakove before, and will definitely watch out for her work. Robertson on the other hand, I've heard several times, and always with pleasure. Her latest offering, The Men, is vintage Robertson: commanding, erudite, precise, and topped off with that deadpan wit, irresistible. The poem begins:
Men deft men mental men of loving men all men
Vile men virtuous men same men from which men
Sweet and men of mercy men such making men said
Has each men that sees it
Cry as men to the sensate (9)
Robertson's erotic relationship with lyric has always fascinated me. Liberating it, as she does, from the anecdotal weight of so much confessional poetry...here is the usual delight in language and perspective:
The men find themselves happy only insofar
As they gratify an inclination.
They are men of warmth and humour and
Acute sensitivity and if I choose
To speak of them it is no trifle.

To speak of the men is no trifle.

They are both sublime and
Beautiful, delicate
And copious, rolling and touching
And rubbing one against another
In their most serious actions
But nothing makes them men
But their word in the new-found world.
I study them more than any other subject
Studying hard in this disordered rabble
Remembering to drink water
Judging soundly like a man
The ceremonies and decorations
The opportunities for ornament... (18)
But cheeky, too, irreverent, and reverent at the same time.
Toronto, you're up next. Enjoy.

No comments: