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Friday, July 18, 2008

Reader's Diary #378- Douglas Lochhead: Weathers

I have mixed feelings of Lochhead's Weathers, an anthology of poems gleaned from his books and chapbooks from 1989-2002. Perhaps Weathers is a good title for the book-- taking the rain and sun in equal doses.

I appreciate that he has a recognizable style. There's a lot of nature-focused poems, often told in short, concise fragments. Sometimes far less subtle than haiku, his poetry is still somewhat reminiscent of the form.

After a while, the choppiness of some of the poems got to me. Granted, it often seemed to imply a stream of consciousness but I'm not a huge fan of that style. Here is an excerpt from Vigils and Mercies 1-30:
"Demon day. Right on for the race of inner wrath.
Who else burns? Questions shake and flop
on the wind. Bottled silence. Windows
and doors. Boarded up."



With such a pace and disjointed rhythm, I found some poems very difficult to follow the overall message or thought. I think poems should be concise, but clarity shouldn't necessarily be sacrificed. I thought he was at his best when he used articles, conjunctions and the like, though other poets might get away with omitting them. I quite enjoyed this stanza from "The Bite of Love:"
A dark toil of clouds
over a thrashing sea:
rumours of shipwrecks
out there in horizon's mouth.

However, while few poems appealed to me on their whole, I did enjoy many of the images and lines within. I loved, for instance, how effectively he set up the tone, pace and theme in the opening lines of "Wood Point Poems:" "The leaves are dying./ The leaves are dead."

Ironically, one of the rare poems in the book that doesn't rely on his strength with imagery, helps to explain Lochhead's great ability with imagery. It's also my favourite in Weathers:

Everything is
by Douglas Lochhead

You understand?
sure,
sure you understand.

everything is poetry.

2 comments:

Cloudscome said...

I agree completely: "I think poems should be concise, but clarity shouldn't necessarily be sacrificed. I thought he was at his best when he used articles, conjunctions and the like," I can't seem to let go of articles and conjunctions and punctuation even in haiku. They hold the meaning together. I like the Lockhead poems you've shown us and I'll have to look for more.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Agreed. Two many two and three word sentences wear upon you after a while.