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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Reader's Diary #23- Percy Janes: Light and Dark (FINISHED)


One of the things I like about poetry is the importance of the reader. I think, due to the concentrated nature and sometimes diversionary nature of a poem, the reader has a lot more thinking to do and takes his/her own experiences and attitudes into the reading; much more than with a novel. Would you agree?

But given that, maybe I should see a shrink. I don't necessarily see myself as a gloomy person. I often joke that I'm a pessimist, but most days that's not as true as I let on. The reason I should see a shrink comes from my interpretation of Light and Dark. A few poems into the 2nd part, I realized that the book was probably divided into two halves to match the title- the first half being "light" and the second being "dark." The poems of the second half certainly fit the "dark" tag- we get titles such as "Soliloquy of a Cripple", "The Lost Companion", "Shadow", "Sour Grapes" and "Flower of Evil: The Burden and the Guilt" to name but a few. The content of the Part Two poems was equally bleak. Consider these images and dark metaphors: "a horde of devils littered in a shrieking birth", "wrench my heart from its roots", "time bomb ticking in the brain," and I could go on. So the 2nd half of the book was dark, if my theory was correct the 2nd half should be light. Looking back through the titles, this would appear to be the case (ex. "Crystal", "Utopia" and "Salvation"). But that's about as far as you can push it in terms of lightness. At best, Part One is dim. Sure some of the poems might show a more optimistic side, but there is still undercurrent of depression running through them- or is it me? This is where the shrink should come in. And since I'm already on the couch, why is Part Two, the darker of the halves, more appealing to me?

Seriously though, I did enjoy Part Two more. And not because of some subconscious taste for gloom. The language in Part Two was more concise and less contrived. Janes' biggest beef in life seemed to be getting older (I'd say half of the poems in the book revolve around- or at least touch upon- the curse of aging) and he wrote some pretty good poems about it. Likewise about loneliness.

Particular favourites in the second part, were "Poet:2" which seems to sum up latter half by describing a poet who "marries" his dark outlook with the "darkness in the world" and the dire offspring they produce. Also "Tightrope" and "Farthest North" were interesting in the way that Janes arranged the words on the page. Not exactly "concrete poems" but they did create a picture that complemented the words themselves.

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