Phil Metres’ review of e.s.p.

Thanks to Philip Metres at Behind the Lines for an insightful take on e.s.p.— reading his post really made me think about my own poetic practice from another vantage point and it is nice to know that there’s a thoughtful reader like him out there.

Here’s the end of his review:

The ludic is, of course, never “just fun and games.” It is fun and games as a way of being. (How’s that for making even the ludic sound unfun?). I’m reminded of my buddy M— G–, who, just a day after we’d heard of the tragic death of a classmate, began to tell jokes where the punchline was this student’s name. It was pretty ballsy, but it was a strategy for surviving. He was clearly thinking about her–as were we–and his mind went to the ludic.

I’m particularly drawn to the poems that create the vertiginous effect that such jokes gave–where the ludic is wrestling with the “pressure of reality” a la Stevens. Where the fun is the vertigo of facing the abyss, as in Leong’s “Pensando en la inmortalidad del cangrejo,” where the thinking literalizes the metaphor and dizzies us into the real. Read the poem here. Here’s the end:

Within the oceanic O
of my omphalos,
the crab is dreaming
a fathomless dream about
the bottom of the sea,
where the kelp sways lazily,
and the coral feeds
at its leisure,
and, from time to time,
bursts of bubbles
unexpectedly rise
to the surface,
which, from here,
give only the slightest impression
that the water is boiling.

Leong has given us a promising collection, where the possibility that the seas are boiling, seems both funny and ominous.

~ by Michael Leong on September 21, 2009.

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