Sunday, July 16, 2006

Reader's Diary #127- Adrian Fowler and Al Pittman (editors): 31 Newfoundland Poets (up to Neil Murray's "Biblical Incident")

Since I've been blogging about poetry, I've often commented on such common features as imagery, rhythm, rhyme, and so forth. I haven't, however, put a whole lot of emphasis on voice. It's been an oversight. Voice is potentially as important as any other aspect. It's taken 31 Newfoundland Poets to remind me. In this collection are some wicked examples of great voice. David Glower has a brilliantly crafted poem entitled "Goin Hout." It's told from a very thick accented Newfoundland man and the words are spelled almost phonetically, or more accurately as they would be pronounced (or written perhaps) by such a character. To give you an example, the second stanza goes
"good ferda feesh dough
awls um een I do fases time
puntload no truble
win da widders good"

It sort of reminds me of the way Trainspotting was written in Scottish dialect. I had to read it out loud and a little fast to get what was actually being said. What makes this poem so thought provoking, is the question it raises about education versus traditional life. It doesn't take a stance, but it would be an excellent discussion starter.

Bill Gough seems to be a master of interesting voices. His "Soft Shoe" is told from the perspective of an old man who seems to resent the condescension from younger people. A good voice should have an interesting perspective, a mood, and consistency to the character's personality. This poem has it.

So does an untitled poem of his that begins "O Lady of/ the rat tail comb". It's a creepy poem, to be sure (in the same vein as American Beauty- if you get my drift), but it's still a fantastically written piece. As he ends the poem with "I smile and suggest/ an hour's extra drive" you want to scream at the girl to get out of the car- not many poems can evoke such a strong emotion as this.

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