Friday, September 26, 2008

I have had the six recent chaps from Faux Press since spring, and reading them, but have yet to marshal the time to write about them. I will start with some comments on Stacy Szymaszek's contribution, she of the six being the least known to me, Orizaba: A Voyage with Hart Crane. the title piece begins in a way that made me think I read the introduction, all too ready to explicate and delineate. the opening quote, from Crane, proves telling:

In all the argosy of your bright hair I dreamed
nothing so flagless as this piracy


arr, piracy (unavoidable Robert Newton allusion), 'tis the essence here, for Szymaszek. the piece is partly about her fascination with Crane. she delivers a fair chunk of biography, tho I am not Crane scholar enough to know how much might be invented (possibly none, I am just indicating that potential). the piece also contends with issues of sexual identity. she quotes Crane again: "Then in front of Orizaba everything suddenly begins to change." she describes and pioneers with her own awakening sexual identity by writing about Crane and her interest in him. Crane indeed is a wonderful possibility, romantic yet hard-edged, modern yet stalled. Bloom, I might add, in his Stevens lecture, declares more fully for Crane as 'the best' tho of course Crane's work was curtailed compared with Stevens et al. Bloom makes the point that Crane unfolded rashly (the adverb is mine) whereas all the other modernists of note had yet to write much of real interest by the age that Crane leaped.

I did not mention that this is all written in straightforward prose. the reverberations of Crane are heartfelt, made me want to get his poems out (too many books in boxes just now),and I have not read a full biography of him. Szymaszek connects with his disorder as well as his bloom.

balanced with this direct consultation with the reader are The Eustace Poems, which being a selection from a work called Hyperglossia. here, Szymaszek writes in jolting short lines. words are spread across the page in various layouts. the effect is punchy, which contrasts nicely with the meditative extension of Orizaba. here Szymaszek performs further identification, closer to home, perhaps. she produces an image of Eustace, the boy, which one must assume is, in some way, her. I have seen enough poetry LANGUAGEd across the page to be wary of 2nd rate explorers inventing what they have seen before. I have given myself largely to prose for reasons of this issue (and other reasons besides). Szymaszek rattled my prejudice because the words on the page look so thoughtfully presented. making me think of Mary Rising Higgins, which we all should do, poems wrought so carefully. these Eustace Poems are riveting and rhythmic, and play neatly against the self-examination of Orizaba.

I would like to deepen into this work but for now am content to leave these just notes* behind, since my intention here at Tributary is to coax interest and instigate engagement. the hard work is left to you, Dear Reader.

these Faux Chaps are well-presented. design is similar among them all and each bears a head shot of the author on front and back cover. this makes one want to read them as a single entity. they were not written that way, but it works somehow, six poets of the city. I shan't further that point but would recommend all six chaps. and I hope that I have made an engaging point about Orizaba: A Voyage with Hart Crane.

* I hope Gentle Reader recognizes that I meant to write just these notes. I leave it as I wrote it because it looks just funny, or funny just.
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