I have previously read two books by Maggie Nelson: The Argonauts and Bluets. They were in a sense unclassifiable, which only matters if you desperately need a pigeon hole to put something in before you can enjoy it. Not Poetry. Not straight forward literature, no narrative structure to speak of…narrative threads, that ran and looped and got forgotten only to be picked up pages and pages later. Presented in paragraph blocks, not necessarily linked in a linear fashion, but as an overarching theme or feeling, very much linked.
What united both of those books was the power of the language, the danger, the risks being taken, the passion the energy the lust the demanding to be heard…and heard telling in the how and why Nelson wanted to do it.
So I was really looking forward to this, the first book of hers that I have found that describes itself as Poetry. Unfortunately it is nice, tame, a bit ‘teenage-edgy’ in places so mainly, comfortable…a pair of slippers book of Poetry. I’m left wondering where all that energy dissipated to.
It is also, on occasion, obscure, probably deliberately so, from the opening poem,
‘”Your sexiness is necessarily an aporia,/ but that just means nothing can ever/ demolish it.”‘
I’m re-reading the contents list of poems at the front and I can’t remember a one of them, they are strangers to me. A couple of lines in the boldly named ‘the future of Poetry’ are amusing and well put together:
‘Sometimes the Poetry of the future will have to put on a silk kimono and sigh, sometimes it will need to fuck like a bunny, other times it will have to walk 29 miles to visit a grave…”
But these are exceptions.