3 of 5 people found this review helpful
Disappointing after the first poem.
4 November, 2011
Yep, you read right--the first poem. I bought this book solely based on the first one, "Odd Blocks," because it had a lot of depth to it, a ton of metaphor and distinction and self-awareness that makes you think about all those "monuments to randomness." Beautiful, thoughtful, poignant; couldn't ask for a better poem. I was surprised! Why had I never heard of this Kay Ryan before? Indeed, after buying it I was going to write a review which began, "It's rare that you feel you got your entire money's worth from a book just on the first page."
Unfortunately that turned out to be a little too true. Little did I know that the rest of Kay Ryan's poems did not follow in the footsteps of this one. Most often they are subtle observations, but not simple in a good way, it's the simplicity on *this* side of complexity if you catch my drift; simplicity without meaning, simplicity without understanding, and a rhyme here and there almost as if it were the purpose. I initially spent a great deal of time looking, searching, digging; trying to find anything under the surface of each poem. Eventually I gave up. Oh yes, that's a tree. And now you're writing about your pen, and just your pen, oh and how your pen writes, and how one once compared it to a sword (oh, never read that before). Apologies for being cynical, but I really tried, and couldn't find, any value in most of these poems. They just left me with sort of a "huh" feeling, and eventually as though I had wasted my time. There are a lot of great poets out there elucidating ideas you never knew existed in ways you never thought possible, and they are worth your time; Kay Ryan appears to be a simple poet shedding light on what is already lit in tried and true ways. What's the point?
Except for in that first one. And you can read it right here--click "First Pages" below the thumbnail above, and you'll be taken right to it. "Odd Blocks" is the best, and only good poem in this entire collection. Save your money and just read that one. Almost makes me wonder if she stumbled on that metaphor by mistake. If she were trying surely she would have succeeded a good three or four more times, but that's not the case in this collection. Sad.