Love scene in miniature

Litzine, S. Howe., $5

Broken Pencil - - Zine Reviews -

Do you know why peo­ple hate po­etry? I do. Peo­ple hate po­etry be­cause it makes you work. Even sim­ple po­ems have lay­ers we can’t un­lock un­til we’ve ex­pe­ri­enced more life. Most peo­ple are go­ing to hate Howe’s Long poem; LSIM. Howe makes you work hard as they de­scribe ev­ery de­tail of a sex­ual en­counter us­ing un­yield­ing sym­bol­ism, with lit­eral lan­guage sparsely sprin­kled through­out. This type of po­etry is al­most im­pos­si­ble to cri­tique, for a critic of this poem is more likely to be eval­u­at­ing it on the lim­its of his or her own un­der­stand­ing rather than the ac­tual value of the poem it­self. The sym­bol­ism I could de­ci­pher, I found quite clever.

“Mal­let flesh sheathed” = A con­dom on a big cock .... (cont. on next page)

“Wet star aim still gos­samer” = A but­t­hole “Fetid male fin­ger” = Stink fin­ger And ac­tu­ally, I’m not even pos­i­tive I got those right. I had to use a dic­tio­nary for a lot of these words. It’s fun to work hard for mean­ing in art but some lines I knew I was never go­ing to un­der­stand.

“Seg­mented pe­drest of love limp­ing prank mas­ter in tubu­lar out­fit.”

Huh?

The rea­son most peo­ple hate po­etry is the same rea­son I love it. Our cul­ture grav­i­tates to art, me­dia and con­ver­sa­tions that are plainly spo­ken and clearly un­der­stood. I think of the 2016 sci­ence fic­tion movie Ar­rival here — if the film is cor­rect in its as­sump­tion that our lan­guage shapes how we think, what is English but a lan­guage that tries to en­snare and limit mean­ing? The He­brew lan­guage for in­stance works with many lev­els of mean­ing. A He­brew sen­tence can mean this AND that. An English sen­tence is ever only this OR that. So Howe, like many be­fore, is us­ing this lim­ited lan­guage to do what the lan­guage is not equipped for — to stretch and mas­ter it. (dus­tan j. hlady)

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