Friday, June 08, 2007

Jordan Stempleman: Horse Sense

I got a nice Dusie chap in the mail yesterday from Jordan Stempleman. His new chap is called Horse Sense. It strikes me as an odd title- horse sense usually implies practicality, an ability to see through blarney and unnecessary complexities to the heart of the matter. The Stempleman poems included here, however, are ornate, complex, and intellectually ambitious. They don't demonstrate horse sense per se, but create a kind of gilded labyrinth for the brain to play around with. I kept thinking of Self-Portrait era John Ashbery. Stempleman may turn out to be a kind of heir apparent to Ashbery; his formal elegance, rich vocabulary, and intricate layering suggest this. The chap is sprinkled with memorable lines- The night to remember is impatiently waiting/ to be left alone (which recalls Ashbery's famous the night, as usual, knew what it was doing), What a difference it is/ to be between the unwritten and the unsaid (this one strikes me as more Eliotic), There is a looseness in tending/ to look back (this could go either way). This particular chap is a pleasure, a reminder that a good chap can be as important as a good book.

P.S. My own Dusie chap, Posit, hits the airwaves tomorrow.

1 comment:

Common Sense said...


So glad the chap found you and did something. Always worried the poem’s boom goes off two inches from my face, sounding quite like a leaking tire. Your kind and trenchant words are enormously generous. Thank you.


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