Tuesday, August 25, 2009

'I think the spoons and forks in the silverware drawer can be just as interesting as War and Peace'

Lisa Jarnot's Ring of Fire is a strange, likeable book. It's not afraid of rhetorical postures – in fact, its declarative, repetitive style connects back pretty much directly to Whitman. A brief discussion here talks about the repetition, and whether it's too static. I really like 'Sea Lyrics', a long reiterative sequence, but I can imagine not liking it if it were slightly different in various ways.

Some of the repetition does leave me cold. It's tempting to say that the device is overused, but thats partly the point, and it might be that Jarnot has to overuse it to arrive at the pieces where it works better. She can't be accused of playing it safe. Ring of Fire is one of those poetry books that has really stimulated my own writing by example - not by showing me how it should be done, but how it can be done.

You can read a PDF sample of the book at the link above. This post's title comes from this otherwise rather evasive interview at 12 or 20 Questions.


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