28 October 2007

Byrne on George Stanley's A Tall Serious Girl

The poems are not all comfortable being together, although I guess it was inevitable. It’s almost like an assemblage of possible books. . . . Or: boy’s own serials; post-surrealist assemblage; sixteenth century English verse; nineteenth century opera; several intoxicants, including sex and camaraderie, all in moderation; the city and that which is not the city (800 mile distant suburbs); the Berkeley Renaissance; the Leisure Poets; exception; Cubist collage; the New York Schools; Bolinas without Buddhism. Or: hyperpoetical; gnomic; apoetical; workerist; erotic; socio-political, but always familial; metaphysical; diaristic. In all of which diversity, in all of its stammering, its perfect articulations, the poetry enacts a grasping after “the poem”.
. . .

There is an ideology of the poem that stitches all of this together. The poem as miracle, as gift or force (“The poem wrestles you / to the ground”). The poem, or its source, is something greater than the individual poem; the poet is the vessel of the poem; writing is a writing toward, or an anticipation of the event of the poem (“just keep writing this silly shit & pray for a poem”). This is then dissimulated by a nonchalance, or an anxiety—a structural denial.

George Stanley, A Tall Serious Girl. Jamestown: Qua Books, 2003.

Reviewed by Ted Byrne
The Rain 2:4 (July-August 2004): 6


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