Wednesday, February 02, 2005


Last week we did read of Olena Kalytiak Davis. She's particularly interesting as a poet whose work changed stylistically between first book and second book and thusly leaves that third book as a reeling cliff-hunger. Both deal in the lores and gores and so it goes of love; the first more narratively and the second more performatively. In an interview, she's reports reading a lot of nonfiction writing on the subject of love. Farah Marklevits pointed out that the following poem evokes the Petrachian sonnet and the feudal relationship set up by those poems between beloved and lover.

"Six Apologies, Lord"
by Olena Kalytiak Davis

I Have Loved My Horrible Self, Lord.
I Rose, Lord, And I Rose, Lord, And I,
Dropt. Your Requirements, Lord. 'Spite Your Requirements, Lord,
I Have Loved The Low Voltage Of The Moon, Lord,
Until There Was No Moon Intensity Left, Lord, No Moon Intensity Left
For You, Lord. I Have Loved The Frivolous, The Fleeting, The Frightful
Clouds. Lord, I Have Loved Clouds! Do Not Forgive Me, Do Not
Forgive Me LordandLover, HarborandMaster, GuardianandBread, Do Not.
Hold Me, Lord, O, Hold Me

Accountable, Lord. I Am
Accountable. Lord.

Lord It Over Me,
Lord It Over Me, Lord. Feed Me

Hope, Lord. Feed Me
Hope, Lord, Or Break My Teeth.

Break My Teeth, Sir,

In This My Mouth.

At first, I balked a bit at the traditional S&M submission/domination relationship set up here between the lover and beloved; however, the poem set beside this one in the book complicates that relationship (tho' not defining love in a new way); she ends that poem with the word 'swallow', which of course evokes ye ol' good-times of a particular nature and nurture. The juxtaposition suggests the speaker's teeth as dangerous, biting teeth, thereby placing the, seemingly, female speaker in a position of power.

Tonight, gno goes C.D. Wright.


Blogger Kells said...


I saw Olena when she came to Seattle and read last March. She said she wants every book to be completely different than each other and doesn't just want to be "another hack."

I enjoyed both books, but prefer the first. Though now I think maybe because that book just came to me in the right time in my life and she was doing something other poets weren't.

I'm looking forward to book three and will be interested to see where it goes.

3:11 PM  
Blogger Heidi Lynn Staples (formerly Heidi Peppermint) said...

Kelli, Great to hear info about Davis' intention to not repeat herself. Alice Notley comes to mind as a poet who accomplishes this same ambition. What are the motives behind not repeating oneself as a poet? To remain interested in the language? To acknowledge the constructedness of voice? What do you think?

She's delightfully successful in her effort to depart, stylistically and tonally,--in book two, she enacts her feelings in the syntax, an approach I find particularly engaging and free rush fresh. Book one, while highly competent, feels to my ear much more familiar tonally and with respect to actual word choice--moons and moths make many appearances, for e.g. --so I'm especially curious to consider what about book one felt new to ye?

10:56 AM  

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