Friday, May 26, 2017

Overheard at the Counter: Some thoughts on some recent Poems of the Day

Maria de la Luz Knows How to Walk by Juan Felipe Herrera
touched me, because the stories of the migrant worker and the undocumented immigrant have a special place in my heart, as this is the current example of human suffering, resilience, endurance, and dignity.   The unpunctuated stream of words and images, from a variety of different places, shows how Maria de la Luz is one women, but also is all women, in the life of the migrant worker, and in her story are all the stories of travel, pain, loss, and hope.

First Light by Chen Chen
was a kick in the eye, i.e. a Satori.  As the poet himself stated, it is the immigration tale of a person who does not remember being an immigrant, and whose immigrant story is told to him, and thus, becomes something wholly imagined - almost a creation myth, that has little bearing to the fact, with mundane facts replaced by heroic fantasy.

Self-Portrait as Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong
Frankly, I cannot tell if I like this poem or not.  The staccato rhythm I understand is important to the jarring "mood" that the poem is trying to create, the city, the camps, the conflict between the shared culture of America and Vietnam, how a singular human being came out of this war and, as such, contains both warring factions within the self: that I understand. 

However, on the other hand, the poem seems a little too "busy" (for lack of a better word), as though the images were rather thoughtlessly placed.  Simply put, it reads as though someone dumped a desk drawer and made a list of all the trinkets that had filled it over the years.   If this was the poet's intent, well, good for him.  But it does prevent the reader from truly getting into the "flow" of the couplets.

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