Not that Craig is incapable of the kind of legerdemain that is one of the characteristics of Wave Books. "Diana" is a 6-page poem all but entirely composed of lines from Diana, a 1927 novel by Vida Hurst. Judging from what we get, Diana was a fairly ordinary novel about the reckless and feckless privileged types in the 20s, and the poem has something of the fizzy, heady quality of watching a two-hour Gloria Swanson melodrama that has been edited down to eight minutes. At one point in both novel and poem, Diana "dropped her clothes to floor, wrapped a thin kimono about her aching body and threw herself on the bed"-- hence the title.
And what a great title! It's half of the reason why I bought the book. (Plus one-quarter its being short-listed by The Believer for poetry volume of the year and one-quarter Craig's giving a reading in the town where I live.)
Another particularly intriguing part of the book is the 18 8-line poems that constitute Part II of the book. Craig did not intend them to constitute a whole -- I know because I took the trouble to ask him -- but the consistent form, the grouping of them together as a section without titles, and a sustained, wry observational humor nonetheless make the eighteen poems feel like they belong together, that they are having a kind of indirect conversation among themselves, with more than a few loose ends, true, but enjoying each other's company. Here too, as in Doller's Dead Ahead, one might detect a Muldoonian note or two:
He said she was like a gorge to him.
How so? she said.
He didn't say. She said something
to rhyme with meconium and
turned, and walked away.
He had a Pernod on the coaster before him
The seals were indeed in the harbor,
floating queerly like rockets.