Saturday, December 01, 2012

Clangings by Steve Cramer

Steven Cramer

Steven Cramer

Sarabande Books

ISBN 978-1-936747-46-7

2012 $14.95

Clangings is a poetry book open to mystery. Each poem

is titled and paginated in the table of contents and with each page

devoid of the poem title. At first I imagined the poem as one

or several long poems with a blank page separation. Interesting

how I came to understand the poems as individual and also as one

poem, by studying the reasons for Cramer's intention. The cover art,

image by Johann Fournier, with three exact heads, reminds me of a

Buddhist statue and also requires closer attention. There is a movement,

an adjustment and concentration to the details in the way the poems read

and the cover image portrays. Often as in a concrete poem the reader

needs to be open to the many layers a word may contain. The one

word concrete poem lends definition to the word, being itself as it

is scripted, but it is also a reflection on the many meanings it brings:


“Dickey says we're born in a reek

kind of ammonia, sort of a Comet

paste thickened with piss. The wet

crimps your nose and stinks if we kick.”

We are brought to an immediacy, the birthing, as a poem, as metaphor,

images in a particular reality, lends to the imaginings a poem may

utilize, or not use. In this segment of the larger parts, in this verse our senses

are used so that we may recognize the poem as birth. All the poems therein

are about truth, a surreal, dada truth, an experimental truth, born from one's

reality and the way the mind often may perceive. The poems live on the page:

Forks can't solve it any more than a kettle.

Forks and kettles are found in the gospel

where they go horn to horn with the devil.

Look, here's his hide, bristling in a bottle.”

The rhythm carries the words. The perfect separation, the line breaks

sing into the next line. Meaning is constant in the images and metaphor

and what the image may conjure is plainly seen and I accept their meanings

in a real and in a poetic sensibility, “he overshadows the light divided,”

as if the poem becomes a gospel, each word thought connection then

flowers and thistles each verse, thus making reality dance with all the

meanings and their concrete connections:

“I could clang wish-bells, break out a dish,

but I know he's the headache at the base

of my throat. He's left ice in my voice,

foam round rocks where we used to fish.”

The word journey continues on every page we encounter

“a finch in my chest flinches to get heard” the poems engage us

in conversations about our own thought process, on how to read

poetry, or write poems. Cramer's poetic form is impeccable;

“Dickey my door, I'm seeing. Yesterday

I can tackle after all, and I feel like it

opens an ocean view from my parapet

of mountains and moons of Mercury.

This is a fantastic read and an enormous gift for anyone who appreciates

good poetry and perfected four line verse.

Irene Koronas

Poetry Editor: Wilderness House Literary Review

Reviewer: Ibbetson Street Press

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