Monday, April 29, 2013

Bartin D. Smock's mating rituals of the responsibly poor by David McLean (Book Review)

mating rituals of the responsibly poor by Barton D. Smock
Reviewed by David McLean

Barton D. Smock's poetry speaks with a complex and implicated simplicity, it speaks a world somewhat surreal and intellectual, but nevertheless imbued with all the complexity of these strange rages of human emotionalism that strike us at inconvenient or strange times, when:

our suicides
for position

Here we read of porn and sadness and balloons, correctly identified as “moral hazards,” and we learn how:

subconsciously, I am holy and by holy
I can offer not being seen in the grocery
as my father squints into a handheld

Here we can learn of fathers who, though imaginary, obtain employment as cab drivers in rural Idaho. Essentially, the poetry seems thematically therapeutic, both in that it works as therapy and it is poetry of therapy (and, even uses the term):

only a snake
the jawbone
of a snake

obviously, but it's still worth saying. (With an implicit “all else being equal uses it to eat with in the normal way animals eat” to exclude angry zoologists who might use it as a projectile to ward of the attentions of a disturbing bore or reviewer.) Seeing either correctly or poetically is therapeutically beneficial, epistemologically and aesthetically, respectively.

There is nothing better in a poem, poematically speaking, than a straightforward tautology since few things are as beautiful as the simple expression of elementary logical truths, such as the lovely law of identity. (Here ignoring the whining of the self-so-styled postmodern “beautiful souls” – even Derrida, no fool, said that something “could be formalized,” leaving the reader to tacitly add “if you can do that sort of thing, which I can't”)

There is love here, and what is more love than filial piety?

a hinterland

packs snow
into his mother's mouth
to keep it

Actually, the book seems, and I may be wrong, largely to deal with the writer's relationship with his son(s), with sickness and the diagnosis of his youngest child making him good. More broadly, it considers the question and the questionable essence of the familial. One child raises the question of whether all females are mothers, to which the writer should have replied either “Well, yes, son, yes they are” or simply explained potency and act, with the appropriate gestures. Though it seems to also consider related matters, such as the differences between gender roles and the inevitability of sensible death.

I love this book; it's really good and I strongly suggest that you buy it. More than anything else, it is full of truth:

a cement wall
in passing
by one
with a stick
is the love
we have
for father

Get a copy here: Lulu

Author bio:

David McLean is from Wales but has lived in Sweden since 1987. He lives there with partner, dogs, cats and computers. In addition to six chapbooks, McLean is the author of three full-length poetry collections: CADAVER’S DANCE (Whistling Shade Press, 2008), PUSHING LEMMINGS (Erbacce Press, 2009), and LAUGHING AT FUNERALS (Epic Rites Press, 2010). His first novel HENRIETTA REMEMBERS is coming in 2014. During 2013 a seventh chapbook SHOUTING AT GHOSTS is forthcoming from Grey Book Press. More information about McLean can be found at his blog

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