This Old Poem #106:
Kate Light’s After The Season
Copyright © by Dan Schneider, 1/22/05
Kate Light is
a very talented poet who has a shot to be a poet that is read in a century or 2
from now. She is a classical love poet whose modernity puts her in a direct line
from Elizabeth Barrett Browning to Christina Rossetti to Edna St. Vincent Millay
to herself. She is 1 of the few published poets that seems to have fun with
wordplay & at her best her poetry is infectious- especially when she
confines it to the strictures of form. There, her breeziness has a spine &
when it stretches it does so ground in a soil that does not let her overreach.
Here is an example of an excellent poem:
Reading Someone Else's
is after all. All we've ever done
for centuries - except write them - but what
a strange thing it is, after all, rose cheeks and sun-
hair and lips, and underarms, and that little gut
I love to nuzzle on, soft underbelly - oops -
that wasn't what I meant to talk about;
ever since handkerchiefs fell, and hoop-
skirts around ankles swirled
and smiled, lovers have dreamed their loves upon
the pages, courted and schemed and twirled
And styled, hoping that once they'd unfurled their down-
deep longing, they would have their prize -
not the songs of love, but love beneath disguise.
playfulness of hyphenated words & line ends keeps the reader off guard &
almost a-tizzy until the emotion gut punch of the last line forces the reader to
re-read the poem to see how such a wallop gathers its force.
Here is another poem- this 1 a sonnet- which also makes delightful use of its line ends to tweak the relentless avant gardism of wannabe hipsters & artistes. As you read it listen to the smooth rhythms of the lines as they contrast with the rather dense thoughts KL packs into the piece.
Pierced tongue. Do-it-yourself lisp.
What is this? Penitence? Native Wisdom
Mutilation? or signal: I'll do anything.
Was it a dare? or a careful plan? Did it Sting
Or ache - and does the food get caught -
And should such a person work in a restaurant?
Customers' stomachs can turn - or does desire
Turn to her - to wish - to feel the fire
Glide over the silver (or is it gold?) pin?
And you, my darling, with your end-
less speculation: is he - is she - gay?
Does he or she want you - or me either way?
Why do you need to know? I am here.
This is my body; eat Unwrap. Disappear.
KL’s best work appeared in her 1st book & subsequent poems that
have appeared in magazines & online have not been as good. There could be a
few reasons for this- 1) she’s peaked & it’s all downhill from here on.
2) like many rock bands her 1st book contained her well-honed ‘Best
Of’ poems from the years before her published debut, while subsequent poems
have been her feeble attempt to fill enough pages for subsequent books, without
the years of polish that went into book 1, or 3) she simply has not the time in
her busy life to produce enough quality poems, or 4) a combination of the 1st
This is because KL is not a poet 1st- but a Classical violinist. Here is 1 of her many online bios:
Kate Light is a violinist in the New York City Opera and is involved in modern dance and theater. Her books are The Laws of Falling Bodies, co-winner of the 1997 Nicholas Roerich Prize from Story Line Press, and Open Slowly, Zoo Press, 2003. Her poetry has appeared in The Paris Review, Janus, Hellas, The Christian Science Monitor, Hudson Review, Dark Horse, Feminist Studies, Washington Post Book World, Feminist Studies, Confrontation, Barrow Street, Carolina Quarterly, Wisconsin Review, Sparo, Western Humanities Review, Rattapallax, The Formalist, and The Penguin Book of the Sonnet, among other publications, and has been featured on Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac. She has recently completed Oceanophony, a full-length family concert piece for narrator and chamber ensemble in collaboration with composer Bruce Adolphe. Oceanophony premiered in August 2003 at SummerFest La Jolla and will be published as book and CD.
to all that she has a website that all lovers of good poetry should check out: http://openslowly.home.mindspring.com/.
If you want to contact her go ahead: firstname.lastname@example.org.
At her best it is apparent to see how her love of music & form affects her
poetry. In a superficial way she seems a bit like Amy Clampitt. The difference
is that while Clampitt had nice rhythms in her poetry they were almost always
style over substance- a hummingbird’s wings that zipped, but lent no depth.
KL’s poems go beyond AC’s when she is at her best.
When she’s off her game it yield’s pointless exercise poems like this:
and soft fur
draped all over
he is alone,
in which case
of "draped"; they're not,
or folded to rest
in a nest
of down and cotton.
to those thatched
ions or commentary
On the contrary.
She's never tired
of the extreme-
ly long fe-
and the thigh
into the nook
of pelvic socket.
And what of
for the pocket
on the other end:
where the hollow dips
could store paper clips
in some radical
Or her penchant
for the line
or running down
or going to town
Clichés damned, poem trimmed to a villanellean sonnet, & best of all, the potential bathos is gone, & replaced with the expectancy of cliché, but only that. Explain this to Kate when you email her. Ciao!
Final Score: (1-100):
Kate Light’s After
The Season: 72
TOP’s After The Season: 90
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