Stewart Cole is back with a piece that makes you want to rush out and read Peter Norman's new collection, Water Damage. In his praise of Norman's poetry, he reminds us that the pleasure we take in a poem sometimes owes less to how well it is made, but rather how it is made and then unmade:
He seems capable of writing anything he wants—ranging in his two collections from brilliant sonnets and rhymed quatrains to fragmentary free-verse narratives and prose poems—and yet every display of metrical virtuosity or musical uplift seems counterpointed by a moment of bizarre incompletion or even just silliness. Put simply, Norman is a master whose suspicion of mastery leads him to self-sabotage, and—and this is the kicker—rightly so, for in continually emphasizing our fallibility, the worldview embodied in his work depends for its persuasiveness on the poet’s showing himself to be fallible. Thus, in addition to exemplifying all the fine qualities I’ve named above, At the Gates of the Theme Park also presents itself as a catalogue of lapses, and it is all the better for it.