Thursday, February 21, 2008

Laureate Du Jour

You know who's a good poet? Robyn Schiff. That's who.

I dropped in on Robyn's reading up at Lake Forest yesterday, and really liked her new poems. The poems I most admired were versions of odes, though I don't know if she thinks of them that way. There they were, though: poems addressed to an object or an image, poems working through various meditative reactions to their subjects. From listening to Robyn read, I'm even willing to bet that some of her newer poems follow the strophe-antistrophe-epode meditative structure of the ode. There's a fair bit of elliptical disjunction and jump-cutting involved — elements of Our Period Style — but the meditative impulse and the consistency of the object addressed tie things together more thoroughly than in most post-avant poems, which can, at their worst, seem more like wind-chimes than compositions. What I really enjoy in her new work is the way the poems are about something in particular: they refer to cultural icons (Ralph Lauren, say) or historical events, often with a kind of moral conundrum tucked into them (as with the love & violence issues Robyn gets at by writing about the wedding of the inventor of the Colt revolver). Worth is out from Kuhl House, and I hear the new book's coming soon.