Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Writer Wednesday: #poetry Book Review: With Apologies to Mick Jagger, Other Gods, and All Women by Jane Rosenberg LaForge

With Apologies to Mick Jagger, Other Gods, and All WomenWith Apologies to Mick Jagger, Other Gods, and All Women by Jane Rosenberg LaForge

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've never reviewed poetry before, so when LaForge contacted me asking for a review, I thought I'd give it a shot. I've certainly read and written my share of poetry and then some.

In one of the many poetry classes I was subjected to in college, a wise professor gave me one of the best pieces of advice I've ever been given regarding the writing of poetry, and it has stuck with me to this day. My dear professor said, "You can write the most aesthetically beautiful line in the English language, but if it doesn't make sense, it doesn't work." I wish I could afford to send LaForge to his class for a semester.

Although her poetry is mostly devoid of the flowery language that so often entraps young poets, she stumbles instead on flaunting her own superior intellect. No doubt she has a fine grasp of the English language and all its intricacies, and surely she is as brilliant as she so ardently strives to convince us, (over and over, pounding it in with her convoluted sentences where meaning is smothered, obscured, and at times completely lost), but often the tangential nature of her writing leads us so far into metaphor and memory amid the soliloquy we can't remember what she's trying to say, if anything. See what I did there? Confusing, eh? Think sentences like that, with a lot more big words.

Amid the confusion, you will find a few gems, poems that make sense from start to finish and do not meander on to different topics or flounder in empty, albeit quite intelligent sounding, rhetoric. She has some brilliant insights and quite memorable lines that ring so true as to be breath-taking. It is a pity that instead of staying with the sparse clarity of those lines, she instead chose to wax overly-philosophical or abruptly change tack and end the poem with some handful of lines completely unrelated to the majority of the poem. Too many times I found myself reading and rereading the same lines trying to find some comprehension, or figure out how they related to the poem or what they meant, only to conclude that they meant little (other than that the poet knew many large words and wanted to string as many of them together as possible).

Okay, so maybe I'm just not smart enough to read this kind of poetry. But I really just want to understand what I'm reading, whatever it is. As my wise professor once told me of writing, I believe to be equally true in my own reading experience. It doesn't have to be beautiful. It just has to make sense.

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