Monday, December 04, 2006

Bruce Whiteman

I've been reading Bruce Whiteman's The Invisible World is in Decline, and loving it. I have no idea who this poet is and until I discovered it in my mailbox I had never read a poem of his. And yet I'm smitten. Truly I am. So without knowing much else about this poet I have to say that these prose poems are really fine, so consistant in tone, and vast in their landscape. Just gorgeous, thoughtful observations and penetrating insights that reveal a mind engaged not only in literature or the small "I" of my career, My Career! This guy is out there doing backflips through the literary landscape just for the fun of it, and so gently: "Six green pears on a piece of crumpled newspaper beside a poinsettia that will not flower" and later "They will not speak of rot, but someone thinks it and the first pear turns brown. The painting of them all wants to speak immaculately of their future, when they cannot be eaten by birds or poets."

The prose poem--that form never to appear in the over-wrought pages of Poetry magazine--is o M of the most exciting forms of our time for my money. Condensed lyricism, surreal anecdote, or small abstract canvases, the prose poem ticks along like a view from a train window, click, click, from hydro pole to hydro pole--an image that in fact speaks to the quaint sense of the prose poem now seeming from another century. Which it does. So unchic in its completeness, in its bid for unity, for a sense of narrative satisfaction...

And yet here is Whiteman: "The dead do not speak unless it is through lovemaking and that is another story..."

What I wish for reviewers is that they see what they have in front of them, not what they are expecting to see... Such a simple request, and yet seemingly impossible. Why? Because it asks them to be present? To take a risk? To engage with the work itself ? These are gorgeous poems. They are coiffed only in their desire for precision, not for gloss. Impressive. Someone, just read this book and appreciate it for what it is...

No comments: