Friday, April 20, 2007

Spam Poetry

Brian
food processor adapter
by Wilkerson J. Romeo

Maybe, just maybe that's what has caused this rise in auto-immune diseases or at least makes them worse or causes their early on-set. I do not read your blog, Sophie, as a poor-me blog. I've tried to recreate it as much as possible in the past in terms of diet and fiber supplements, but with not very much success.
The Tigers shot 35 percent from the field.

2007

Analysis:

Romeo's "food processor adapter" is a riddle, a jumble of images and moods woven together to form . . . what, exactly? That is his challenge to the audience, a demand to work slowly through an otherwise fast-paced snippet of prose poetry to find an answer that may not turn out to be worth the effort.

The style starts off casual, reaching a conversational level of familiarity with a direct address to "Sophie" before building up more formality in a dry—but not stilted—reference to nutrition. Its culmination in that rigid, parroting sports cliché is meant to be devastating, a triumph of the mundane over the original, but is instead as ineffective as the Tigers' offense itself.

What Romeo's created here is, indeed, a moving glimpse of a moment of disorganized thought and emotion. It hints at a psychological abnormality, perhaps schizophrenia, with its flat cadences and aberrant linguistic linkages. The mention of "auto-immune diseases" and the strange fixation on nutrition also bring to mind paranoia and obsession. The imagery evokes real feeling.

But the verse is ultimately unsatisfying. The first-person narrative varies from direct and refreshing to narcisistic, and the piece's disjointed aspects leave many questions unanswered without signaling which are the important ones. How might one recreate a blog in terms of fiber? I don't have a clue, and, though I care about these characters, I don't care about their triffling mysteries. The audience should expect more—and Romeo should demand less.

On a related note, I was not surprised to hear Romeo's name bandied about in the run-up to the Pulitzer announcement these past few weeks. His 2006 volume, values folder tell, was monumental. In the end, Ms. Trethewey was more deserving, but I'll be happy to see more from Romeo in the future provided he sands down the rough edges a bit.

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