Monday, April 6, 2009

Funny how?

On my reading list this year is a writer called Fanny Howe. I had never heard of her before and quite frankly she has a funny name. Chris suggested I read her, so last week at the library I found her 'Selected Poems' book (2000, University of California Pr, L.A.).

I'm not really sure what to say about it, or really where to start. She does so many things differently. Maybe I'll list them:

  • Short lyrics (most around 10-20 lines) which is not unusual, but how the usually just end, almost like they are unfinished, or the reader is unfinished is quite unique. She catches us off balance, in the throes of scrabbling.
  • She doesn't go for titles, maybe because the poems don't have any. Why do we enforce titles on poems anyway? For most people they seem to be an afterthought or an explanation.
  • Most of her poems seem exploratory, which is not unusual either, but it is the way that she goes about it. Throwing in spirituality with animals, family, politics and sexual images in such a short space is mysterious and difficult and yet, she always manages to find a something good to end on. Not an answer, but a question. Or like we have figured out the question (have we?), which is where the satisfaction comes from. Like this corker:
    Sallying off to the pub

    over cowpads and dung
    I was only describing
    the person I'd become:

    --a disturbed equilibrium
    --individual of unre-Marxed belief system

    But those were motives, not a defense.
  • Some of them have no narrative or imagistic sense whatsoever, but seem to be carried along by the music.
    Hello eternal life in the light
    of Dublin sunrise.
    Hope carries me as-iffing
    up the hefty gaps.
    Sudden dreams planted to what end?
    Fertile as worms? Headless?
  • Others show a linguistic, syntactical inventiveness.
    When was when
    we knew that what
    we knew
    for the first time
    we knew
    would be disproved
    by the end and then found
    to be true again.

Her stuff is incredibly intriguing, each little nugget has it's own mysteries and as I work through the book. Her common concerns and images will become little nuggets too I think. Thanks Chris.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

/* Google analytics */