11 November 2006

Me and Wallace Stevens just sorta hanging out

Souvankham Thammavongsa just sent me the link to a review of Hey, Crumbling Balcony! that I'd never seen. That cheers me up! It's from the University of Toronto Quarterly, and it's part of a 2003 poetry roundup by Jeffrey Donaldson (wasn't there a famous American murderer by that name?):

Stuart Ross has published a volume of new and selected poems, Hey, Crumbling Balcony: Poems New & Selected. His allegiance to the creative-destructive element in underground literature is evident throughout, as is his dreamlike perspective on the quotidian round, his penchant for the psychological surreal (which recalls, like Adamson above, the Latin American influences of Mark Strand), his attraction to a kind of dry tongue-in-cheek existential angst: ‘I am sitting here looking / out the window. / Someone walks by / who is not me / doesn’t even look / like me. // A few moments later, / another person who is / not me walks by! / What are the / chances of / that happening?’ Ross turns the classical ‘instruct and delight’ imperative into the activist’s ‘amuse or bug,’ and very often succeeds in his line of attack. The language seems perfectly adequate to the job, though I am more attracted to the comic sensibility here. Consider a reworking of Wallace Stevens's ‘Poetry Is a Destructive Force.’ Stevens has ‘The lion sleeps in the sun. / Its nose is on its paws. / It can kill a man.’ And Ross: ‘She sits on the subway / eating Zesty Cheese Doritos / and reading the Enquirer. / Maybe she killed someone today.’ There’s Ross for you: poems that don’t make too much of themselves, whose language makes for a kind of fast food, plentiful as chips, but with a deadly intent.


At November 13, 2006 5:47 pm , Blogger roxword said...

"Stevens felt that the reviews of his 1923 book were less than they should be, and discouraged, wrote nothing through the 1920s."


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