Poetry Wednesday – Andrew Joron

If the only poetry you read is the poetry here at Poetry Wednesday, then I have to admit, you’re getting a pretty skewed view of what good poetry is today.  For example, I rarely publish poetry that’s over 100 years old (I’ve  made one exception to that rule), because I believe that that stuff is already out there.  People are already reading Shakespeare and Donne and Eliot.  More than that, I don’t really read classic poetry that often, in the same way that I don’t read classic novels all that often.  Maybe it’s something I should be doing more, but I don’t.  At least, not in my free time.  Now that you mention it though, I might have to feature Dunne one of these weeks.  He’s one of my favorites.  I also don’t read a lot of experimental poetry.  I really loved the discussion that started up here in the comments last week when people weighed about whether they were more fond of poetry such as Rae Armantrout’s Language poetry or the simpler poetry of someone like Dumesnil.

Thankfully, the poets.org daily dose of poetry that’s coming to my inbox has made me read out of my comfort zone quite a few times this past month.  So now, I have a poem for you.  I’m not sure what I think of it.  There are certainly parts I enjoy, but as a whole?  We’ll have to see.

Spine to Spin, Spoke to Speak
by Andrew Joron

The pilot alone knows
That the plot is missing its

Why isn’t this “ominous science”
itself afraid, a frayed

Pray, protagonist –
Prey to this series of staggered instants.

Here the optic
Paints its hole, its self-consuming moment.
It is speech, dispelled, that
begs to begin to ache.

So that wind accelerates to wound, a dead sound
enlivened by the visitation of owls.

As pallid as parallel, the cry
Of the negative is not the negative
of the cry – an irreparable blessing –

A green world’s
“sibilant shadows” where
The syllables of your name are growing younger.

As involuntary as involuted, “who”
returns its noun
to each tender branch
That noon breaks into no one.

Point of view
Hovers, a circular cloud, over evacuated

That heard  its herd bellow below
the terraced cities, the milled millions

as sold as unsouled, ghost-cargos.

A symptom of the Maddening –
Woman undressed of her flesh.
Man’s address
to Thou, & the flag of Thou.

How the fallen state
Meets the starry horizon, veil
against witness, hunger against void.

O, oldest
outermost Other –

Ageing mask
Of the transparent Earth.  Unspeculated
Streaked with mirror & stricken words.

You are neither the torn, nor the thorn.

You are the many-petalled
melting point of repeating decimals…

Receiver, river
Has been burned into voice, a day-dark ribbon.

All signal is this


Have at it everyone.  What do you think of this poem?  What is your favorite wordplay? I like “the syllables of your name are growing younger” and “So that wind accelerates to wound, a dead sound”.

3 thoughts on “Poetry Wednesday – Andrew Joron

  1. I’m with you – parts I like, but taken altogether it’s a bit much for me. I love wordplay, but the wordplay here doesn’t always seem like it’s leading to something, if that makes sense. I’d rather see wordplay that deepens the meaning of the poem, than wordplay that’s just around for its own sake. Some of these images work for me but a lot of them don’t.

  2. I think this poem is incredible. The music is undeniable. It gives me chills when I read it aloud. Not very many poems do this for me. I don’t believe a poem has to knock you out with MEANING or SIGNIFICANCE to “work.” I would much rather read the poems of Andrew Joron than any of the darlings of Contemporary American Poetry. It’s times like these that I wish I were more articulate about exactly why I like something. But unfortunately, I’m not. I have a very see-ball-hit-ball approach. Perhaps Jenny needs to open herself up to the possibilities of other dimensions that conventional narrative or meaning can’t convey. I’ve read a lot of experimental work–stuff that depends on word play–that is boring, masturbatory, etc. But this ain’t that. I’ve been reading Joron for nearly two decades and he is the real deal.

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