Wednesday, March 24

Some thoughts on Catherine Wagner’s pamphlet “Imitating”

I want to know how the poems were composed. How long they took. I’m curious, is all. They dance (yes, dance) the deliciously tricky line that divides (or attempts to divide) the ordinary diary jotting and the apparently quick, of-the-moment necessary poem. (“That’s the rule: I have to write down whatever’s happened”) It’s mainly personal, did this, think that stuff, but if there’s a wall nearby it’s always well and truly off it. I think there’s an aching shoulder in there somewhere.

And if “I have to write down whatever’s happened” how to explain such lines as

A clench gnawing, beringed chasm and small & most of the way down
the pudding inside lanced with yards of net
which MY WISH slowly I draw through the muscle runs out in squares
little cities cube and grow and fluster off in wet drags

which I just love but don’t altogether “get”. Some of it is easier than that:

God was not personal to me
God would become personal to me when I
thought I was so sexy

which was craven.

and some is just straightforward what happened. The most startling thing about the poems, once you’re over their pretty fragmentary but nevertheless ultimately cohesive nature, is the vitality of the language. Defiant, inventive, sparkling, spoken, written, funny, witty, nervous, brash…..

Poems that may blow the top of your head clean off. Poems I can’t stop reading and re-reading.

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