Monday, January 21, 2013

A critical review of many poems and authors....

     There are not many poets whose work I enjoy reading more than Shakespeare.  His sonnets in the poetry packet are no exception.  All of them are original masterpieces which I can read many times over and gleam new meanings each time.  They are cryptic yet simple.  Each word carefully selected to fit just right in it's place, even if he had to break grammatical rules to do so.   These works are timeless and incredible,  they are truly great classic poetry.
     Many poets are not so careful or original, often times, such as with Susan Hone's poem's they take unmoving poetry and in order to make them more original and interesting, they will put the lines in funny shapes.  Susan Hone did this with her two poems in the packet and the result is a bunch of words cut up and practically unreadable.  Maybe one can sit for a long time to decipher these poems, but from what can be read it's clear that these are more of a novelty then anything else.  Yes there are some interesting words that by themselves are nice to think about, such as: Cusk, dise, wavelet, snapt, and a few others that are original and vaguely thought provoking, but the end result are poems that most readers will pass over and dismiss.  More than likely poems like these wouldn't be included in a collection like this if they were not put in this configuration, and I wouldn't be writing this, instead I would have read over them and remained unmoved, bored even.
     The small collection by Ted Berrigam on the other hand is, quite well done.  These, I would't call them masterpieces but they are well written, and thought provoking.  They are filled with imagery and imagination.  He took the sonnet and made it his own.  Each one gives the reader pause, they make you want to decipher them.  They are passionate, daring, and full of wit. Sonnet XVI for example, is full of imagery that, if one is not careful can be led to think is about oral sex... But then, what does "It is a Chinese signal" have to do with sex? The last two lines make you read the poem over again, and try not think think like a puberty stricken male, then give up and decide the poem is about blow jobs.  Then we innocent readers go on to read LIII and LV, which are dirty like the city.  I can't read these poems and think about the fields of flowers that most poets want to take us to, instead I think of sweat, dive bars, alcohol and drugs.  I think about polygamous sex, and jealousy.  I think about bitterness and words like voluptuous. They remind me of the early days of jazz.  These are remarkable poems because they are so raw, Ted Berrigam doesn't try to hide behind silly things like being appropriate and polite.  He means to be shocking and probably enjoys how difficult his poems are to talk about.
     I think my favorite poem here is Parade by Langston Hughes.  This piece mixes pleasure with sorrow. It encapsulates racism reminding us that even though we celebrate the civil rights movement, which is probably when this poem was written, there are still people that think like this.  About different races, about homosexuals, about anyone that dares be different.  We sit in our comfortable houses planning, plotting even, grand times and are ignorant to the people around us.  This poem is not just about race, it's shows the reader that people can be comfortable and ignorant to real suffering and inequalities.  "I never knew!" you hear people say that all the time.  This work is very well worded. It is simple yet addresses such complicated concepts.  It is sarcastic in just the right ways, and makes the reader look up, and see the world in a new way.
     Poetry is difficult to get right.  Many authors will spend their lives trying to construct something beautiful, and never enjoy the fulfillment of perfection.  It is a formless, yet very structured way of writing.  There are no real "rules" but if the words are not crafted in the correct way they become annoying, and hard to read.  Since the dawn of writing, poetry has been around, and authors have been trying to get it right all this time.  Few get close, but those who do, leave readers breathless, and entranced.  You can read a poem ten times and not get it, but in the right frame of mind it will get you.  Anyone can write a poem, they are easy, but not many can craft a timeless work of art.


  1. Great, really well-said, thoughtful comments on the poems. What happened to the 1/2 dog??