Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Poetry notes, Malahat #161

From a poem by Tim Lilburn in the most recent Malahat Review:
Cut into the tongue where the fish dive;
there's a castle there under a shallow black lake, ducks with bicycle-
pumped white heads,
moon-bored corridors, still lit from the first potashy cut.
Come in at 45 degrees, falling cleanly through sky, and buck down
and back, you will caravan through one glassy strata then another,
some musical, and when you lose your way in crosswinds,
muscle alone will be your star.
A new book from the crafter of the hyphenated superbole: "He sleep-otters under small black stones..." and later "illness's knapped letter is ribboned" in the "water-earth, the gonging." That is an ear with pulse working the land; an avant-lyric poetry for the new millennium. Fine ear, good eye, a muscular, heartening line. An emphatic, tonal, macro lyric. The man overreaches, Todd Swift declares in the Globe & Mail... In a world filled with such half hearted attempts I'll take overreaching...

In the same issue AF Moritz, a name many young male poets utter in hushed tones (a reverence I don't quite get, particularly because of the rather conservative tone and one wonders where the passion is in Canadian poetry). Not that he isn't a fine poet, he certainly is:
If flute song breaks on the stone wall
guarding the garden, the shutters, green,
open and the red slatted gate
does not, if blossoms start to come...
but the sense of being disengaged is well...isn't it? Yes, yes, the garden...but haven't we read more than enough poems like this?? Crafted well or no. What's creeping in to that garden? What's underfoot? Blinders, blinders, the way of Poetry Magazine, where the world never infiltrates the poetic sutra of We are fine, we are fine.

Can we still embrace nonce such as this? Where is the fire? Where is the ear? I did find a little energy in the last lines of the last poem in the series here in The Malahat:
...get up now, quit lying,
a slick of squash, under our voice and our
example of toppled stone, we also are you,
the desire to be undammed, you need to make us
another great hope to scorn.
Scorn indeed. A sense of the poet being outside of the world, and perhaps "better than it." But yes, a clean line he has. Each poem like cut glass.

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