Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Reader's Diary #135- Michael Crummey: Salvage (FINISHED)

What a fantastic collection of poetry! I had read Crummey's Hard Light before, and while I enjoyed it, I couldn't see what all the hype was about. Now I understand. Crummey is an amazing poet.

I hardly know where to begin. But I'll start by saying how well he infuses emotion and mood into his work. Of course it all comes down to word choice and Crummey shows his skill by somehow choosing just the right image, just the right adjectives and adverbs, and just the right comparison. Sometimes he even goes out of his way to find the perfect word and as I was reading through, time and time again, I found myself thinking, "yeah, that's right!" I could open the book to just about any poem for an example; "...the complaint of nails/ being pried from old lumber" (from "The Narrows"). Not only does "complaint" conjure up the whining sound, but also helps secure the mood of the poem. Most of Crummey's words multitask just like that one. Superb.

Another poem I feel that deserves mention is "Braveheart". In Sedgwick's How To Write Poetry he warns against anchoring poems in the present too much. With such a pop culture reference as this (yes, "Braveheart" is a reference to the Mel Gibson movie), Crummey may have written a poem that won't live for a hundred years. But then again, it might. It should. In just a few deftly crafted lines, we see a relationship end with the simple act of pressing "rewind" on a movie. And better than that, Crummey makes the comparison of the couple to the Scots and English not only humourous, but ultimately apt. Incredible.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

multi-tasking words - I've never thought of it that way before, but that is what words need to do in poetry, as there is so little room to maneuver, probably why I am an abysmal poet.

John Mutford said...

What do you mean by "so little room to maneuver"?

And "I'm an abysmal poet"...interesting. Seems to imply you've tried it. I'd love to read some!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Oh no you don't want to read any of my poetry - trust me. It's of the angsty teenager variety, which is why I stopped while still a teenager.

By little room to maneuver I meant that in poetry, you don't have the luxury of going on and on like you do with prose (or like I do anyway). Every word must count.