Monday, January 30, 2006

'Currency Exchange'

I did a write-up of the Glomski / Katz reading a couple of days ago over here. It's too long for me to feel comfortable cross-posting it in its entirety, but I thought I'd post this excerpt, which focuses in on a single poem, Glomski's great 'Currency Exchange.'

'Currency Exchange' is one of my favorite poems of Glomski's. It's essentially a long inventory, short lines that are mostly nouns or noun clauses:

"Exclamations. The price of life. Peas and carrots."

There are some verbs thrown in, too, from time to time:

"Sun shines. Cobras spit."

Somehow the addition of the verbs makes the piece feel more "filmic"-- more a montage of short clips of non-narrative action than a montage of still shots of objects. To further mix things up, there are things in there that aren't objects or actions but abstractions:

"Illusions of speed and dexterity. Step 2 and Step 3."

and some bits of dialogue (with no identified speaker):

"How long will you have that look on your face?"

Some phrases seem chosen for their rhythmic qualities ("duct tape", for instance, follows "bake sale"), but this doesn't happen often enough to become a pattern. In fact, one of the things I like about this poem is that it's kind of a pattern-disruptor: every time you think you can articulate the formal principle undergirding the inventory, a new item comes in to disrupt that principle. This gives the poem a distinct life and energy.

(The poem is funny, too, with lines like "Attention-seeking noise originates in cat", which I'm always glad to see more of)


At 8:56 AM, Blogger jpb said...

Line-break minutia: I'd heard this poem twice, and assumed each time that each inventory item was on its own line, but when I looked it up in the book I noticed that the whole poem is a single block-quoty paragraph, force-justified on both margins. Love the poem, but I don't think that that's how I would have lineated it (especially since it leaves those weird force-justify spacing artifacts in a couple of places.)


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