Friday, March 03, 2017


"Not the Forsythia" by Troy's Work Table.

Sidewalk chalk, chalk pastels, and charcoal pencil on 12" x 12" concrete board.


"he doesn't let the herd eat the forsythia but / knows they like to be / amidst its blazing yellows." and "A / lone white one (Io) glows / like an idol and is Ida's / favorite." —from "Not the Forsythia" by Anne Carson, as found in Red Doc>.


From yesterday's dead goat to today's live musk oxen.


When Red Doc> was released, I ran and and bought it immediately. I was looking forward to it because it was promoted as a sequel to Anne Carson's earlier novel in verse, Autobiography in Red, which is one of my favorite books of poems. And then I opened the book and encountered its layout and form.

Supposedly, the format was "randomly" selected by the word-processing software that Carson was using and she was so enamored with the form that she kept it. In fact she dedicates the book "for the randomizer." I was angry at what I saw as the clunkiness of the form and what I perceived as the laziness of the poet.

With all of that being said, I recently decided to try my hand at reading the book again. It's a bit of a difficult read at times because the line breaks don't really follow the rhythm and meter of the words on the page. In other words, I have to read slowly and deliberately and "against the grain" to hear what is there. There is reward in such slow and attentive reading. It opens up the text despite the "randomizer" and the poet "getting in the way."

(Let's just say that I'm learning to like Red Doc>.)


I love the simplicity of the scene of "Not the Forsythia." G (formerly known as Geryon in Autobiography of Red, as well as in the poem by ancient Greek poet Stesichorus that was the inspiration for Carson) and Ida (a character new to these poems) are standing in a field as G watches his herd of musk oxen and Ida sketches them.

It is a scene of observation and beauty, of watching the world and being in it. Meanwhile, there is a simple conversation going on between G and Ida, and then misunderstanding perhaps. Or something else?

No comments: