Monday, June 13, 2011

Richard Siken: Crush

I'm going to read and comment on Richard Siken's Crush. This book was selected as the 2004 winner of the Yale Younger Poets prize and was published in 2005. Louise Gl├╝ck has edited that series since 2003 (she is stepping down this year). From what I can find, this is Siken's only published collection. Since 2001 he has also been the co-editor of Spork, an online and print literary magazine.

I'm still so new as a reader and writer of poetry, and I'm sure I could have chosen something a little easier, a little gentler. At the same time, I ain't gettin' any younger here, and what can I say? I'm drawn to what I'm drawn to. When it feels strong like this, I don't question it. Siken was referred to me by someone with whom I share some fairly significant aesthetic leanings, so when NaPoReMo came up, I think this book chose me. I'd only read the first poem at that point, and it begins with:

Tell me about the dream where we pull the bodies out of the lake
and dress them in warm clothes again.

What can I say? I'm a sucker for romance. Or something.

In all seriousness, apparently the book was inspired by the death of his boyfriend in 1991. I am no stranger to loss, even if an entirely other sort. Somehow the fact that his poems seem just beyond my grasp, it feels like a clue that a lot will be revealed as I dig deeper into his poems.

There is one other thing I want to say. I've checked out a little bit of Spork and I find Siken's writing as editor to be direct and accessible, two qualities that I also appreciate. In 2001 he introduced their issue on The Body by saying "...great literature is not about its author, it’s about its reader. I wouldn’t burn the I-shouldn’t-be-telling-you-this stories because they were, ultimately, about me. I continue to not burn those stories, or these either. They are about you, too." I thought that was a pretty righteous quote for the start of NaPoReMo.

Looking forward to it,

P.S. From the same editorial intro: "We are not newspapermen, we are not looking for that kind of truth. We want to go joyriding." 'Nuff said, in my book.

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