Saturday, June 26, 2010

Bookmarks – The Cradle Place

Thomas Lux is not your roses is red poet of pretty little lines. He isn’t Shakespeare. There is a great deal that Lux isn’t. And even if his strange verses are a little hard for the overly expectant reader to take, they are darn good.
Lux has been described by many critics as “surrealistic.” Poems in  The Cradle Place employ some odd images which seem to come from dreams, and what you expect to be horrifying sometimes ends up beautiful, at least in my psyche. And perhaps that is Lux’s strength: not so much to get us to embrace the nightmares we imagine, but to be honest about the nightmares we live around unknowingly. Maybe we also learn to see, as only in dreams, the possible that we would deny if we looked at it face to face.
These poems contain a great deal of humor, though you might find it missing when you look for it. It is like riding in the car with the wise, but weird uncle: you know he’s going to say something funny and he’s going to make some sort acute observation, but if you try to force anything, he’ll sit mute. As soon as you turn on the radio to drown out his silence, something comes out touching wonder. It is best to read without presumption and let whatever happens happens.
While I did say that Lux is like no other poet, I do think he has his kindred spirits. A number of the poems in this collection owe their power to observations about the minute and discarded, a la A. R. Ammons. But where Ammons opens the world of science to metaphor that few have since Donne, Lux’s muse has bite (and sharp teeth!). Bits of information and daring questions lodge in the brain like a feather, sometimes tickling, sometimes scratching, always screaming for attention. What is done with that attention is left to the reader. But the reader is not going to be the same…unless she or he expects nothing else.

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