Sunday, August 10, 2008

Just Above Water sinks

I always love getting book recommendations from the many marvelous poets I know and I was excited when the indomitable KC Trommer told me I must read Just Above Water by Louis Jenkins. In fact, in her Goodreads review of the book she wrote, "Louis Jenkins! Why don't more people know about you, you smart, hilarious prose poet?" I am all about poetry that is both smart and hilarious, so I set about obtaining a copy of this book, out of print since its 1997 publication by Holy Cow! Press. It turns out it's pretty hard to find and after reading it I realize it would probably have best remained lost to me. The yearning heart is, after all, perpetually in anticipation and, though painful, staving off disappointment.

If Louis Jenkins really is "the contemporary master" of the prose poem, as Robert Bly attests on the back cover of Just Above Water, that's hardly a rousing endorsement of the genre. While there is nothing terrible about the poems in this book, there is nothing wonderful, either. I found most of the poems to be, well, boring. Reading this book felt a lot like listening to a record by Morrissey. It wasn't a painful experience, but the songs all sound pretty much the same. The tone, subject matter and even the length of most of the poems in this book just doesn't change much from poem to poem. The poems themselves are neither clever or emotionally resonant enough to be memorable or worth ever reading again. Overall, I think the poems in this book would make a fine accompaniment to the artwork of Thomas Kinkade.

Sorry KC.


KC said...

sad sad. if anything, i'm sorry to put you on to a collection you didn't like. perhaps this is not the collection for you. justin has a bunch of jenkins around the apartment. i think you'd have to read more of him, though you don't seem encouraged. i'll look for the one that had the most that made me laugh . . .

Laura said...

So on TWO different sites you drag Morrissey through the mud for the gratification of poets and Kinkade fans... You are shameless. SHAMELESS!!!