B63-TS1 Good Reviews (Poetry) Copyright © by Tim Scannell, 8/4/02
don’t beat-about the bush: a chapbook, zine or broadside is a poetic cowpie,
rhinoceros beetle - svelte eland or rose. No Old Testament
‘in-the-beginning’ geneses. Get to the New Testament crux - quickly!
Second, judge: what was all that K-12/17 education for? Make crisp inferences from what you have read: the words met in poems, stories and essays are either bassackwards or are lovely paeans to Mnemosyne and her nine yakking daughters!
Third, fight for the Western canon. Its jewels may be on scraps of paper (Dickinson) or under continuous revision (Whitman). Know that the shield of Achilles nudges your shoulder, the charred remains of Beowulf are at your feet, and Jane Eyre wanders moor and heath looking for LOVE!
Fourth, use critical tools: persona, tone and voice for poetry; donneé, character and plot for fiction; a logically developed idea for essay. And in this country of “Mr. Flood’s Party,” literature must 1) make the common idiom sing, 2) hallow the place, 3) have breadth of view for a vast and varied land; and 4) praise the body and spirit of human existence. PERIOD!
Fifth, note irritants: when verse (here, the basic subject) grinds an axe or ideology (political correctness/social engineering) - condemn it! Lambaste all anomie with a knotty 2X4 from a ready-to-hand, heaping pile.
Sixth, extol nuance: most poetry today is in free verse, so replace discussions of rhyme/form/iamb with discussions of pitch/stress/juncture. Respectively, how do lines rise and fall; what are line-lengths doing; and what are the juxtapositions of the aforementioned striving for - within our lexicon and its 400+ tropes?
Apply the above mentioned in reviews and you will sleep soundly: “From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State…”; “(ponder, darling, these busted statues…”; “Once I am sure there’s nothing going on…”.
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