Not a final draft.

Edward Lacie (edwa318@webtv.net)

The Appendices of "2007"

I have no credentials for a critique of the novella that proceeds the "Appendices" which are entirely poetry, so I'll treat the "Appendices" as if they were the book, the whole book, and nothing but the book.

As a reader I'm almost tempted to think it's an anthology rather than the work of a single writer. There is an amateurishness or simplicity through much of the poems, but others are practiced and honed to a degree not possible of such an amateur.

What would be the purpose of intentional amateurishness? One theory may be that the collection is meant to be a "collected works" with examples of the mature writer and the writer-to-be. (Another may be an attempt to appeal to less sophisticated readers, but that seems self-defeating.)

In this light, "Male-ieu", the eight-part poem that is an appendix of its own, does not belong in the collection at all. Where other poems are amateur, parts of "Male-ieu" are, as poetry, simply bad. The ideas, or the erotica aspect alone, may justify the inclusion of this section, but as a poem it is negligable.

The fascination with form in many of the other poems is a strength of the collection as a whole. A few of the experiments that work are:

1) a poem thats first and last lines are the same words, the second line and second to last line are the same words, etc., until the middle line which appears only once. The punctuation is very different and the context new when the words are repeated a second time.

2) a three-dimensional poem in which planes with mutual lines intersect for a 3D construction (the "ode" itself is less than successful but as an introduction of a new way to think of "concrete" poetry, the experiment is a success).

3) a silhouette of a man's face, the dark areas being the words of the poem (again, not great as a poem but the subject, cruising, is apt for this application).

4) a two-part poem, each part built as a repeated string of words that gradually adds words until the phrase or idea is complete, presented as a continuous line rather than broken into usual lines of poetry.

5) a two-line poem with multiple sets of parentheticals, the unravelling of which presents the possibility of multiple poems, each with a fistful of images, so what seems simple is an extreme opposite (another short poem, nine words only, is labelled Part III without parts I or II, likewise making it a larger poem, in some way, than it actually is).

6) a few lengthy poems, no two the same structurally, the most complex five separate poems, four of which are presented and then repeated with the fifth poem "interspersed" within them; the fifth, very short poem, is then presented as the climax and sort of practical joke.

7) two sonnets and a third rhymed poem with a rhyme scheme never before seen (and barely noticed here), for reasons made obvious by its use here ("Written Supposedly Sober").

8) the gradually expanding study of depression which grows of itself rather than beginning with something new ("That Sinking Poem")

9) a severely cut-up (in the Beat sense of actually cutting up poems and rearranging them) biography that includes a poem already a cut-up, a severe psychological self-portait of a lack of self-respect ("Weak Knees") which invokes Jack Spicer, the alcoholic poet of late 60s Berkeley who championed a non-autobiographical "magic" poetry that this is an ugly antithesis of while containing a powerful magic of its own.

10) a "word salad" poem, hypothetically the poem of a computer (written in the mid-80s before computers were the everyday appliance they've since become).

Realizing how many of the poems are poems in obvious and usually successful search of a structure, makes the others seem like they're not trying hard enough. Some are proficient, "Having to know" and the surreal "My Monday" or "Remembering Ruby" among them. Others, like "Poem on the Charcoal Sketch" and "Morning Pathetic" (one of the sonnets) are maudlin. 

There are glimpses of proficiency in pieces of the many other piecemeal poems, but the effect is one of just that - unrelated pieces. The poems as a whole, then, seem like a scrapbook of sorts, a menu here, a matchbook there, a newspaper clipping and photos of various age and professionalism, that embarassing wad of folded-up pornography.

If this were all, there'd be little reason other than curiousity to check out this juvenelia. Given that their author continued and developed into the writer of such recognizable poems as "A Real Education", "Uncle Sam Tamrin" and others which use historic reference as poetic reference, these are fascinating as a look, perhaps, of "the poet in search of the poet."

-Edward Lacie, 10/2/2002

Click here to see an index of the poems of Greg Baysans