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Thursday, March 14, 2013


[Related Post: The Allegrezza Bench]

William Allegrezza is a prolific poet, which might explain why he sent me five -- that's FIVE! -- mini-books!  And all sized in SitWithMoi's targeted 2" x 2" scale.  What a blessing!  Here's a photo:

Well, I'll "review" them one by one on SitWithMoi.  The first is the book entitled Books, the

and contains the following text (each stanza fits on one page, though it's possible that a long stanza may be broken by page-breaks): 



eves (1)

of how
streets have

        to a

    I only


I was
to pour

your dillusion (2)

For after
    I remember


of the

I feel

First, because the poem is handwritten, it is possible that I might not have transcribed all of the words perfectly.  For example, the word with the reference to [Footnote] 1 may be "eaves" rather than "eves."  And the reference to [Footnote] 2 may be "delusion" instead of "dillusion."  Anyway...

The first thing that struck me as I read the poem is its flow ... or energy.  There's a forward propulsion within the poem so that you are compelled to keep turning the pages rapidly (at least during its first half) as if to keep up with the poem's unfolding.  It's a page-turner, as the saying goes.

This forward propulsion begins with the very first word(s):
"[R]ebuff" can either be a noun or a verb but even as a noun it has a sense of action.  The second word, "though," immediately raises, though (heh), a sense of contradiction so that the reader is compelled to read further for clarity.  The next two words, "clad / with," also continue this momentum to keep reading forward (clad with what?).

This propulsion is a paradox (which I find pleasing but whether or not you are pleased with it, it's a paradox) given how the actual text are sufficiently opaque so that one might normally linger over them as individual stanzas, trying to parse them for meaning or trying to engage with them. 

The poem's propulsion is also enhanced by how the words are written on the page.  That is, they're not written horizontally along the page, but vertically like so:

The visual sense then is one of falling, with that speed of falling.  It's an impression further enhanced by the handwriting.  Now, maybe Bill just has awful handwriting, but this doctor-like handwriting evokes, too, a sense of speed as if the author was trying to (quickly) get something out of his system onto the page.  It certainly wouldn't surprise me if this poem was written a la "first draft, last draft" (rather than that he was copying from a text onto the mini-book).

The poem's momentum does eventually slows down as the later stanzas seduce you with their lyricism.  You want to linger among those stanzas, enjoying their beauty.  Looking closer at the content, the beauty is one of loss but, still beauty.  Another paradox: to find beauty in loss. 

The contrast between the energy of the poem's beginning and the slowed-down lingering towards the end works effectively in that one appreciates more what one comes to slow down to inhabit. 

What else?  Shall we talk about the title and the cover design?  Okay.  I have four words to say about that: I don't get it.  I mean, I'm suspecting that Bill chose the cover simply because what looked like a card announcement that he cut up had a good hard-ish paper stock that would work well for a cover.  The announcement is for some convention in Las Vegas.  I suppose one could really be fanciful and posit that the relationship described in the poem might have happened during a meeting in Las Vegas ... but I'd go with just the card stock theory/reality (grin).

By the way, it's okay to not have to "get" a poem in all of its totality -- this reminds me of what the poet Meena Alexander once told me (it might have been in an interview in my first book, BLACK LIGHTNING). Meena said that there are many doors into a poem and different readers can access different doors -- this has always implied to me, too, that a reader need not access all doors.  Or, if a poem has numerous stanzas or sections, it's okay if a reader can get into just some of the sections and not all of them -- the fullness of this "partial" engagement still might suffice for a bountiful poetry engagement.

And so, while scratching moi purty head over the title and gesture to Las Vegas (I guess it'll just have to stay in Vegas ... sorry, couldn't resist), I did have a lush poetry engagement with this work and thank Bill for sending the book!  Now, where shall we "shelve" this opaque one?  At first, I thought to put it on "The Allegrezza Bench"  but felt the effect would be too obvious.  So, instead, it's shelved on one of the handsome chairs in the collection -- a Windsor:

And, besides, "The Allegrezza Bench" is right in front of the Windsor so the mini-book and bench are talking distance within each other ...

Such fun!

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