I'm very curious to encounter reviews of my work like this -- some people have sent me emails or given me oral critiques, but this is I think my first formal "review." It's been a while since I wrote the "novelties," and I'm past any point of having some sort of gut-level defense reaction, so I can take the review at face value. He definitely gets the "collectible" quality of the poems; I wrote them thinking of each one as a "jewel box," -- a discrete and ultimately pointless aesthetic object. I rather like the fact that he's struggling with some of the poems, especially my word choice -- he points out particularly the last line in "The House of Craft..." -- not my favorite novelty, and the end is admittedly a bit much. I confess a weakness for the "ta-da" ending. It's something I've tried to work against, and a built-up ending is something that comes way too naturally for me -- a default mode of writing. If I'd sat around with that poem a bit more, it might have lost some of the gong-ness. Sometimes I'm very self-conscious about the "ta-das," and sometimes I think, "what the hell . . . if you're going to write something, write it big." The novelties, despite my intention to write self-contained, cramped-feeling poems, have a share in this "big" tendency which perhaps they can't always carry off.
I also am intrigued by the interest he shows in "Ocean." Many people have told me that this is their favorite poem from the book. I like it too, but I've never been able to shake the feeling that the poem is a fake. People seem moved by the seagull, but really, have you ever heard of anything so stupid? The image of a seagull falling to the ground frozen-stiff is idiotically funny. The poem isn't trying to be funny; it wants the seagull to be eerie, gently horrifying, an echo of extreme cold. But whenever I move beyond the "idea" of a frozen seagull to the "image" of a frozen seagull --well, it just seems ridiculous. Whenever I've read the poem at readings, I've been afraid that someone would laugh, or perhaps leap from their chair while yelling "J'accuse!" But no one has yet done so.
In other news, Shanna has a website for her micropress, Half Empty/Half Full.
"Users seeking Top 40 songs, for example, or the latest release by Modest Mouse, are certain to be far more numerous than those seeking a free Decameron, and Grokster and StreamCast translated that demand into dollars."
Am I to believe that Justice Souter spends his spare time rocking out to "3rd Planet?" Is he contemptuous of the band's fratification in the wake of "Float On?" Or is it just "Neverending Math Equation" on continuous replay?
I smell the influence of a hipster law clerk.
"I gave it up when it got dark and the groceries closed, and hid in my room again. I turned out the light and lay on the bed. You feel better when it gets dark. I could have hid in a closet, I suppose, but people are always opening doors. Somebody would find you in a closet. They would be startled and you'd have to tell them why you were in the closet. Nobody pays any attention to a big box lying on the floor. You could stay in it for days and nobody'd think to look at it, not even the cleaning woman."