Friday, June 24, 2011

I’m awfully behind here, though it’s not for lack of reading her. I think I have trouble writing about Loudon in particular because her poems make me so uncomfortable. They’re not easy, in any sense of the word, for me.

First, she has a voice that I can only describe as a sharp, aggressive, obsessive post-modern stutter and when you read it sympathetically the sensation just isn’t pleasant. I find I have to live with that voice for a while too; the frenetic and sharp little phrases that clatter about, usually without punctuation to guide, force me to read and reread. The language and ideas are consistently nightmarish. Often violent, as in Dear Extinguished Individual:

point shoes clacking down the stairs
Molotov cocktail down the stairs
flat on my face as usual
rag wick showing

Though, I’m usually more unsettled by the more quietly nightmarish:

I sleepwalk now wake washing
my hands in the kitchen sink
green light

                                                       (& eels under the floor)

The parentheticals are scattered throughout, and at one point she uses them as a typographical gimmick:

MY VOICE GREW ))))))))

Which seems to be me at once a statement of preference for the poem’s appearance and form on the page and against the poem as vocal tradition. I don’t mean, by the way, that she neglects sonics. From my examples alone it should be clear that she pays attention to that, but it seems to me that a big part of what she’s doing is working with the expectation that you will be looking at and reading these poems on the printed page.

I know it seems like I’m being negative, but I guess that’s because reading this is a negative experience. It’s dark. I really admire how effective it is. I wish I could do what Loudon does.


  1. I like that description of post-modern stutter. And her parenthetical eels. From your examples I can understand your difficulties with her.

  2. I'm getting more fascinated w/ her. Being a Stephen King fan, she's not so disturbing as fascinating. While trying to find this poem, I found this interview and I can see why you ended up w/ different versions of the same poem previously.

    Quoted from:
    I revise a poem anywhere from twenty to seventy times. Often I revise poems after they’ve been published. I write long drafts and cut and cut and cut. It’s much easier to cut than trying to build a keel after the fact. My knives are sharp. I slap a piece of duct tape over the internal blasted critic/editor’s voice in my head when I write my drafts, but the tape comes off with a loud and painful riiiiip! during the revision process.

  3. Jeanne, Jane and Scraps are also really fascinated with her. They probably have a lot they could add. Jane shared a different interview of hers with me. I can send it to you if you like.

  4. Yes, Aric, thanks, please do. For such a deep and gothic writer, I enjoy her interviews, as you can actually understand what she's saying. some writers and esp. poets drive me bonkers, blathering on metaphorically and philosophically and my eyes just start to glaze right away. I can actually glean something from her.