Loads of Learned Lumber

Monday, June 14, 2010

G. C. Waldrep, _Disclamor_

EVERYTHING REMINDS ME of Wordsworth these days -- the second part of Richard Greenfield's Tracer, the central poem of D. A. Powell's Chronic, and now much of this, G. C. Waldrep's second full-length book. Especially, in the present instance, the poems such as "Candlemas, Vermont" or "Circle Park" or "Wildwood" or the "Battery" poems, which carry traces of someone walking, observing, thinking, remembering.

But by volume's end, I was more often reminded of Eliot. For one thing, rather like the Eliot of the quatrain poems, Waldrep likes to juxtapose homely words as old as the language itself with specialized vocabulary terms, throwing in a curveball adjective:

A vesicle conscripted from the oriflamme,
rejecting, rejected,
a butchered
iridescence on the Schuylerville pike.

("Titus at Lystra")

Or, from the same poem:

To dowse for that secret spring:
the geese,
the temblor, what
livid farrowing.

For another, like the Eliot of Ash Wednesday, he creates an atmosphere of cryptic candor, of being in the same breath painfully frank and unfathomable:

I carry the bones of the pedagogue
in ivory brackets
my hand is steady
I mix consecration
with consecration

"Romeward," for instance, has a wrenchingly confessional tone -- but one can only guess what is being confessed.

By mid-volume the Wordsworthian element has mainly evaporated -- we are still walking, but now in a dreamworld rather than a landscape:

I buy and I buy; with each receipt
something shredding and translucent breaks upward
from darkness. This is unavoidable.

But the "I" seems to persist from poem to poem over the whole volume, always erudite but (like Eliot again) sometimes having a laugh at his own erudition, always scrutinizing his conscience, always noticing.

The nine "Battery" poems especially unify the book. Having read them as a series in an earlier chapbook, I was wondering if spreading them out over a book, with three or four poems coming between, would diminish the effect they have together. But no -- they now act as a spine, deepening the book's historical dimension, its implied contest between cruelty and hope.

Goldbeater's Skin made me suspect that G. C. Waldrep is one of his generation's most interesting writers, and Disclamor persuades me all the more.


SadeRa盈君iford0412 said...
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奕生 said...
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