Thursday, June 30, 2016

Poetry Month, Day 30, redux, Miriam Dunn, _Who Will Love the Crow

Publishing poetry has become increasingly easy over the past ten years. (Making money publishing poetry - still fiendishly difficult, but a different story). This is a slim volume of poetry and some photographs. Many of the poems were delightful. I especially liked Dunn's quirky rhyme scheme (in the poems that had rhymes) - making poems rhyme is actually really really hard, and making them rhyme is a way that is not ABBA CDDC and such is even harder. Also, Dunn's use of rhythm (in the poems where there was a consistent rhythm) throughout is good, pulling the reader through the poem. A few of the poems felt a little self-indulgent - but then the poem that I find self-indulgent may resonate more fully with you, and vice-versa. There are also some pleasantly silly poems, and a series of haiku.

If that all sounds eclectic - well, it is. My chief criticism is that there is no cohesion here, no theme which pulls the whole book together, just a collection of poems, all (well, mostly) individually excellent, but with very little to suggest why they should be placed next to each other.

There were several poems that I found really really good, but because I posted some Matthew Arnold the other day, this one seems most appropos:

Still, Dover Beach

The ebb and flow of love,
smooth pebbles tossed against the shore,
leaves unbelievers lost,
rough tumbled in its roar.

Pale specter of the world,
its shadows fall on darkling plain;
white cliffs will still loom tall
'ere crumbling once again.

And melancholy night
in timeless paths across the sky,
are stilled by lovers' words,
though long centuries pass them by.

For rivers of our time
still interweave with currents past;
covenants conceived,
collected like sea-glass.

A note hangs in the air;
the channel's cry at end of day,
voluminous with life,
before its sweet decay.

And there still hangs the moon,
on Dover's tide, its plaintive song;
eternal notes abide.
Sea of faith still moves as strong.

Old Sophocles could hear
the voice of time within the spray;
and now the voice is mine,
lest my words be washed way.

The ebb and flow of time,
a love sea-tossed against the strand,
retreat and then return,
back to the moon-blanched land.


That sort of reply/response to other poetry, that's a thing I don't think you see (ever? often?) in any other forms of writing. Maybe in painting? Maybe in music, a little (although, that might result in a lawsuit these days). But the idea that a poet can have a conversation - well, a short one, perhaps - with another poet, although long dead - that's just wonderful.