12 sept. 2005

What interests me in Ange Mlinko's poetry--one of the things that interests me--is the effect of emotional distancing. There's an indirection, a reticence, reminiscent of early John Ashbery. It's not an absence of emotion, but rather a certain coolness. For example, the poem "The Girl With the Black Square Hair":

It was a more sensuous oppression back then.
Now summer is a long illness; confined to the room

was the air-conditioning unit, notebook my birdbath
(come, invisible birds) where are my special

solar eclipse sunglasses? Left in the long grasses
of the Île de Batz. One cannot close a park;

I am reassured of its longueurs extending into the night,
for I have seen its gaslamps on past noon

but also great liberal jurisprudence.
The adult sibling finds it unremarkable

there used to be jacqueries and fires and demi-vierges.
It's currently the year Contemplative is overrated.

You should still be able to appreciate the Maleviches;
it is usually the middle child who is supersititious.

It has that cultivated NY School feel to it, for sure. Surely the poetic "charge" comes not from the inventive use of vocabulary alone but from the implied emotional tonalities in these words. The wistfulness of "special / solar eclipse sunglasses" or "adult sibling." The irony is not overdone, because it's not a matter of words saying the opposite of what they mean, but of simply leaving behind a certain residue of dissatisfaction (or muted satisfaction) with life. Needless to say, the title is brilliant for this poem, and the poem is perfect for the mood I'm in today. I am the middle child.

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