As I read a book of poetry I bought this week I have a definite feeling I should be sitting on a bean bag in an obscure, sweetly-smoky club that has walls hung with batik and beaded curtains. Nearby, someone would be playing an oud or a lute while the poet reads their poetry aloud.
Poetry isn’t usually my thing. It’s not something I read regularly or have a passion for analysing, so I’m unpractised, but I’m a reasonably intelligent, well-educated person so I should be able to understand a few poems, right?
At least it is with the poems I’ve read from Luke Beesley’s anthology Jam Sticky Vision. One positive: the titles all sound interesting. I can see how a person would be living their life, see, hear or experience something, and simply have to write about it. All the words make sense, I see the images the poem describes (in some cases), but at the end of every poem, I look up and say, “What?”
I kept reading and will continue to do so until I reach the end of the book because, surely, I’ll begin to see through the miasma of run-on sentences, unfinished phrases and disconnected words to the meaning beyond. Call me plebeian, but I can’t see how a collection of random nouns and adjectives, with no articles, verbs or participles, invokes an understanding for the purported topic.
NB: This is not a review of this book I bought, or the poems I’ve read. I’d have to understand them to review them. The lack of understanding is mine, not a fault of the poet.
This man has won awards: multiple people out there think his writing is good. I attended a workshop presented by him several years ago at a writers’ festival. It made a lot of sense and I produced some interesting work.
So I’m not giving up yet. There must be something in his poems that I’ll be able to connect with, or at least make sense of. I’ll keep looking for it until I finish reading the book.
Has anyone written a beginner’s guide to Beesley’s poetry? I think I need one.
E E Montgomery
About writing, life, and random thoughts.
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