Sunday, 7 February 2016

Cultural Archaeologist

August Kleinzahler doesn't sugarcoat the challenges of reading Christopher Middleton's poetry:
Middleton's poetry will seem difficult and unfamiliar to the American reader accustomed to magazine verse and the work of Creative Writing's more popular personalities. It is aggressively, unapologetically intellectual, often allusive, and is apt to make assumptions about the breadth of the reader's knowledge that are, well, somewhat generous. The difficulties, though, are not the kind one might encounter in the work of Pound, say, or David Jones. They are more often folded into the logicoithe poem, which can seem baffling, even secret. Middleton is a cultural archaeologist, raising ancient artifacts and finding likenesses. He is often a philosophical poet, in his fascination with time and the phenomenological, by which I mean in the complex ways of perceiving and thinking about how we perceive. He is not anecdotal and certainly not confessional. Poetry, for Middleton, is very much involved in the act of retrieving in language the imaginative experience or moment, letting it find its own pulse and exfoliate on the page. It detests "reportage" or "brute discourse"; it wars against "languishing idioms." It is improvisatory.


Bryan Sentes said...

Thanks for bringing Middleton back to--at least--my attention--& gratifying to see him quote Orpingalik's poetics, which serve as the epigraph to my last book (!).

Nyla said...

I'm so happy to find this description--I haven't read Middleton but there is so much in this description that appeals to me, that I will seek him out ASAP.