I've been reading Richard Siken's Crush, winner of this year's Yale Series of Younger Poets award (see Emily Lloyd's GAP review here). I was trying to explain to my writing group Wednesday night what I like about this book, and I couldn't really put it into words very well. I guess it is the voice: it's a young, brash, cocksure, yet vulnerable voice. And it's also the look of the poems on the page: the long flowing cascading lines, with a wonderful music to them. And it's also the imagery: sensual, visceral, sexy, and at times dangerous and violent. And finally the humor: amid the darkness, he can make me laugh out loud, as in the long series of prose poems, where all the characters in it are, ridiculously, named Jeff!
Here's a poem from the book (it can probably speak for itself better than I can speak for it) (sorry I had to reduce the font to get the line indentations to fit). It's the opening poem, and I read it as an invocation of sorts, to Scheherazade, who told her stories to keep alive, just as Siken seems to be telling these urgent poems: "just one more, just one more . . . . "
Tell me about the dream where we pull the bodies out of the lake
and dress them in warm clothes again.
How it was late, and no one could sleep, the horses running
until they forget they are horses.
It's not like a tree where the roots have to end somewhere,
it's more like a song on a policeman's radio,
how we rolled up the carpet so we could dance, and the days
were bright red, and every time we kissed there was another apple
to slice into pieces.
Look at the light through the windowpane. That means it's noon. That means
Tell me how all this, and love too, will ruin us.
These, our bodies, possessed by light.
Tell me we'll never get used to it.