Sunday, March 29, 2009

Papers, Please

Just finished the title poem from Noelle Kocot’s exhilarating Poem for the End of the Time, which definitely breaks a lot of rules. As exhortation goes, it’s up there. Direct address targets NYC, America, various religious personages, God, etc, and the solid blocks of anaphora can break your kneecaps. Yet excesses aside, it’s great to read something that’s unabashedly transgressive, not titillating and edgy in an oblique, noodly sort of way (both in terms of sly content and form), but straight up. On the minimalist end, it seems like Cavafy with his brazen directness and simplicity is flanked by Alan Dugan’s cranky exhibitionism. On the high end, Anne Carson’s torqued annotations are matched with C.D. Wright’s cascade of particulate nouns. Kocot seems to raise the ceiling a little higher (at least in terms of rule-breaking). I’m aware that one’s awareness of what constitutes transgression against poetic practice is totally conditioned by resentment of one’s own limitations (and habits, which may or may not include the consumption of 5 books of poetry a week and 5 bottles of wine), but it’s great to encounter a poem has an air of the gauntlet. Anyone out there have their favorite scoundrels, verse-wise?

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