beautiful, unfinished: parable, song, canto, poem by M.T.C Cronin
Salt Publishing, 2003
WOW! I had to read beautiful, unfinished 16 times before I had enough courage to even begin thinking about reviewing it. Cronin wields language like an ax with scented blade, its hits your brain with a squishy sounding clunk but it's so pretty you want to make out with it.
The Patina of information glows
and the hoary rage-purple
of reported death
leaps in half-tone from the printed
(VI Authorship – beautiful, unfinished)
Basically this book requires you to think, and hard- and to feel, a lot- and to reflect, just enough so some lines get stuck on repeat in your head. Because of this I got excited and wrote a review analyzing and praising her technique which ended up sounding like an academic essay, full of references to the Encyclopedia of Poetics and post structuralist theory in this technological slash mystical age we live in.
However, I am tired of the old clich?¬© that poetry is for poets, so I tried to review it like I had never written a poem myself- but found it hard, like all those readers of poetry out there who probably don't exist- so here goes.
This is Cronin's 9th book of poetry and it will probably win her another award. I could bore you with a list of the awards this great contemporary poet has won, but in this case we'll stick to the poetry.
The poem Canto of Morning & Magdalena left me feeling as though someone had flicked sweat in my eyes on the subway stairs. I don't know why, it just did.
Just like the girl's breasts eh?
Corruption of the blood
And a wonderful way
of spreading her legs
in the hot of night
And when I woke up?
Mary and the fucking Angels-
There is something disturbing yet meditative lurking in Cronin's language. The long poem Parable On the Erotic Struggle with True Muteness (How We Speak) resembles an existentialist fairytale that sort of drags you out of the womb of the poet and flings you out into the depths of the universe- and you are there floating wrapped in fluffy visions when suddenly the earth mother yanks your umbilical. This poem proves that poetry is alive and well in the 21st century.
The second section of the book Seven Mysterious Songs is also meditative, but more in a nihilist Zen master sort of way.
Sleep, like peaches
Fallen to the ground
(hand pressed to the
side cannot feel.
Juice in the earth.
(III Sleep, Half the Shadowed World, beautiful, unfinished)
M.T.C Cronin's world is an interesting place, she builds images in your mind and then destroys them; she arouses you and then makes you feel ill. She takes you inside of her and then throws you off the edge of the cliff of implied insanity. Poetry is more interesting when the poet disregards what they believe the reader wants to hear.
All great books just tell you the story, all great poetry is a result of an artist capturing the truth, even if there is no story, the truth of our aloneness in the vast unknown. Beautiful, unfinished – parable, song, canto, poem is a masterpiece of music in words. Buy this book. Read it a whole bunch of times. It is a necessary addition to your brain-software in this techno-mystical age.
and the cold-blooded planning
of the killing
of a helpless sleeping man
(so it read)
(Canto of the Coming of Night – beautiful, unfinished)
Brentley Frazer is the editor of Retort Magazine.