Saturday, January 29, 2011
Use Trouble: Poems (Review)
Use Trouble: Poems by Michael S. Harper
From the back of the book: For decades, Michael S. Harper has written poetry that speaks with many voices. His work teems with poetry configured as awe, poetry as courtship, and poetry as elegy and homage. Infused with tales and riddles, sass and satire and surprise, Harper's poetry takes the form of psalms, jazz experiments, soft serenades, and radical provocations. In Use Trouble, Harper renews poetry as the art of taking nothing for granted. He draws on his seemingly inexhaustible resources to pain, sing, sympathize, and sorrow. Here are his tributes to his father and family, his irrepressible playfulness, and his lifelong romance between poetry and music.
Um. Yeah. I guess I'm just going to have to take your word for it. Because for the first time since starting this blog I'm going to have to say--I just don't get it. I think I like these poems. Most of them anyway. They are full of rhythm and an elusive beauty that I can't quite get hold of. But I can't say that I understand them. I think I would have gotten a lot more out of this book of poetry if I could have studied in a class or with a reading group...somewhere where there could be some discussion. But reading it on my own....I just don't get it. And for that reason, I can't give this one a rating.
Some bits that I like:
As you paint yourself, taking readings
along the vernacular of the language
you speak, imitate, create, abandon,
remember the tensions of change:
improvise, study the movements,
don't get lulled by the machines...
from "Archives: The Public Library II"
Rachmaninoff's Second is upon me;
I conjure all the opera music you knew,
how lush your contralto heart, how fine your gloss
of Kansas City piano music; how swift your frock
at the Comus; I watch you cutting papa's
hair; there ain't no hair like his under those deft fingers.
"Write nothing down,: you said;
no notes fine enough, not even ashes.
"Headset" (complete poem)