Saturday, June 07, 2014

La Far Eric Linsker

Eric Linsker

La Far
Eric Linsker
Copyright © 2014 by Eric Linsker
The Iowa Poetry prize
University of Iowa Press
Iowa City, Iowa
95 pages, $19, softbound

Review by Zvi A. Sesling

“Linsker’s poems splice and complicate realms and modes and sensory domains with
wit and acute musical edgework. They are deeply, quixotically enjoined in the hard and
essential ‘grief of eternal joy.’” –Emily Wilson, judge, 2013 Iowa Poetry Prize.

Do blurbs and the poetry they are about have to be inexplicably obtuse?  Perhaps in Iowa, out among the cornfields it is the thing during long sessions of boredom watching corn grow or a long winter of dealing with snow blowing across buried fields.

So many good accessible poets and this book by a poet who, “holds degrees from Harvard and Iowa Writers’ Workshop” is picked, perhaps because of the degrees
or perhaps for its incoherence.

Now perhaps readers of this review have a better take on what the author is saying
than I do, but let’s look a “Love Streams.”

He was choosing colors, sounds
Of clouds, that year he was
Troubled with his room,
Through what philosophers

Of clouds, that year he was
Housed and thunderous, wet
Through. What philosophers
He read, he hid

Housed, and thunderous, wet
Windows, differently pulled,
He read he hid
By time, a glass hand.  Through

Windows differently pulled
The rain like school to where
By time, a glass hand through
His hair brushed back

The rain. Like school to where
Sits a desk, the chair that had been
His hair brushed.  Back
At the window now a clearing

And so on and on this poem continues, three pages worth of tedium, like watching corn grow or snow in mid January blow across an empty Iowa field. 

I would apply the same to the “Land of Reasoning” which begins with more forgettable lines:

In the clutches of song the survivors
Enter the earth no longer looking
For those they have lost that was
Another time even the underworld changes

Quite frankly I did not find this a redeeming volume of poetry despite winning The Iowa Poetry Prize and who needs to say that just because it won the prize that it is a prize winner?   Does this book truly represent great talent or  rather who one knows? 

So here are some opening lines with titles in parentheses and with which I present my case:

What else would we want if we were
good am I here  (The Unities)

In the verdure of the word smoke
A manhole opened outside her
None in her family read   (In the Raid Instances)

red trillium

It starts to snow shut.  (A Place Where Everything is Visible)

All I know is that when I sit down to read a book of poetry I seek the accessible, the sensible, the enjoyable, the book I want to remember.  I did not find any of these here,
though for many of you it may be the opposite experience. I hope it is.

Zvi A. Sesling
Author, King of the Jungle and  Across Stones of Bad Dreams
Editor, Muddy River Poetry Review
Publisher, Muddy River Books
Editor, Bagel Bards Anthology 7 & Anthology 8

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