So often in Landlocked you may read a poem with a superficially naturalistic sense and it is only later, in another poem, that you discover the true weight and significance of what you were reading. Without such poetic tempering, the horror would simply be too much. There are glimmers of hope, also.
But Eppel is very aware that the tone of white colonial privilege and power can also be found in the voice of an apologist for Mugabe:. The last few poems of Landlocked return to the land and to nature.
New and Selected Poems, Volume One
Well then, the poems. The protagonist — a succession of states of confidence really — begins in an initially breezy mood. Thereafter the poem storms garrulously on — plotless as far as I can tell but continuously surprising, with astounding events narrated as generic and with a calm that embalms and distances as if we are watching old news reel footage. Tautologous axioms are announced in the normative language of an academician, a twentieth-century Bellori.
The conventional is adumbrated with a comical equanimity, an ironized complacency. Many of the later poems extend and repeat these moves and reflexes.
I quote the next poem in its entirety —. This is from the seventies and in this period the palpable hits begin to come thick and fast. Here the epithets I began the review with might be again tempted into play: notice the rhetoric whose very classical clarity and orderliness are applied so as to detail and to dress up an ordinary subjectivity and Romantic dispensation. Here is the end —. But a deliberate dryness seems to be being cultivated in the late 70s pages.
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My guess is that this is a move on from the manner Towle had increasingly made his own and perhaps had too much under control for his own sense of formal adventure. The beginning gives some idea —. The speaker seems megalomaniac and to regard Architecture, or his architecture, as an overarching and ordering synecdoche for most of reality.
There is an abundance of pleasure, jokes, conceptual humour in the poem. But they were not discursive and this property seemed foregrounded there as an element of sybilline inscrutability. In these later poems the tone conveys mood, a testy impatience controlled:. Dry, or not, the poems seem more sporting, less aimed at the paradigm of the grandly quixotic, foolish and heroical.
Formal Salutations: New & Selected Poems by William Baer
Instead they are playfully facetious and virtuosic runs. Or, though not noisily signalled as such, they are personal. A few specific poems — and specific devices in Towle — sometimes seem Kochian. But there is no shifting.
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- Selected Poems - The Sun Magazine.
Distinct but very near. And this subject position does not claim them, does not stand by them. Towle, however parodically, at whatever distance, I think does. Perhaps I am confused. Not, for this reason, in their findings — but in their claiming responsibility. Having said all this I wonder if it is true. Bear in mind the poor quality of my mind and its thinking at any time. Hard perhaps for the reader of Jacket to gauge. How I see it, anyway.
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There would be a chair in which uncle Edwin would sit, or maybe Denby would drift as the mood took him from spot to spot, room to room, visiting first Kenward, then Frank or Jimmy, Joe or Ron. All three write most regularly through personas that disclaim a too personal identification, certainly too personal a function and purpose beyond the literary and aesthetic.
But would this be a good move on their part? Those who dislike the New York School tend to dislike it as an entity, a unity — those who like it tend to like the individual poets in it, the variety.
Tony Towle is one of the major talents of the New York School. He is one of my favourite poets. He is, somehow, not one of the better known among them. This gave one an introduction to most of them, but not always an adequate one: it was made when so many of them were still very young. By the late 70s I caught up properly with Schuyler, then Mathews.
Book Excerptise: New selected poems by Mark Strand
He was right. Through the 80s an earlier New and Selected , from Kulchur press, was a longtime companion of mine while I wrote, getting a rest every year or two and taken up again. That volume is long out of print. I had known Towle by a few anthology pieces. They were memorable and intriguing and still are.
I returned to them often. These are very distinctive poems.