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Old 04-15-2012, 10:17 PM
epigone epigone is offline
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Location: Valparaiso, Indiana
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Default Review of Wendy Videlock, Nevertheless

My review of Wendy Videlock's book, Nevertheless is now up on the Valparaiso Poetry Review

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Old 04-15-2012, 10:57 PM
Cally Conan-Davies Cally Conan-Davies is offline
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This review is so impressive! You have managed to say with utmost clarity what I believed might be unsayable.

Thoroughly done, and thoroughly informative and pleasurable to read!

Thank you so much for writing it! The book deserves this quality of deep consideration.

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Old 04-15-2012, 11:17 PM
Jesse Anger Jesse Anger is offline
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Yes, well done. Like trying to eff the ineffable, which ain't easy, but you've pulled it off nevertheless.

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Old 04-18-2012, 12:11 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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Would that all reviews should be so generous and detailed. Wendy V.ís poetry gets a good close look, helpful to the reader. Thanks.
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Old 04-19-2012, 07:23 AM
Tim Murphy Tim Murphy is offline
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Location: Fargo ND, USA
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Jeremy, that is a brilliant essay, a close reading of a poet who needs to be read very closely. I remember Alan's excitement the day she first posted at Deep End: "You have to read this woman!"

The only poet I can compare her to is Kay Ryan, although I doubt Kay is an influence. Wendy just burst on the scene fully formed and probably didn't even know Kay's work back then.

To me much of the magic that comes from Wendy comes straight out of Grand Junction, beyond the Front Range. I am a poet of The Great Outdoors (yeah, ninety-eight percent according to Master Gwynn) and a poet of place. Grand Junction is about 1100 miles from here, but I can pick up Wendy's book and I'm there.

But there's something else. Wendy just sees things better than I do. Maybe in the next lifetime I shall come back as a young mother and see things better.

And three cheers to Christian Wiman for publishing so much Videlock at Poetry and to Alex for bringing out her book.

Last edited by Tim Murphy; 04-19-2012 at 07:32 AM.
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Old 04-19-2012, 07:46 AM
epigone epigone is offline
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Since the review is back up at the top of the page, I think I'll take the opportunity to say something about the process of reviewing this book. I've been reading Wendy's poetry for some time and I almost always like what I read, but I have always had a hard time explaining what I like about her poetry. So the challenge of the review was to try to discover a way to describe Wendy's poetry in a way that covered the effects she manages to produce without just quoting her over and over again.

But as I read through the entire book, and then re-read it and re-read it, I discovered that her poems return to a number of themes and explore those themes from different angles and in different contexts. Wendy is a philosophical poet in ways I had not previously appreciated. So most of all, writing the review taught me a couple of valuable lessons (which may be obvious but they were revelations to me) that I hope I don't lose track of.

First, sometimes one needs a book to really appreciate a poet's project. Reading a poet's work one poem at a time over a period of years may not enable one to appreciate the poetry as a whole. In short, not only does there need to be poetry and poetry anthologies, we need books.

Second, my response to Wendy's poetry puts me in mind of some of the arguments that Malcolm Gladwell makes in Blink. Many times, I read a Wendy poem and immediately like it, but at first -- and sometimes for a long time afterwards -- I cannot articulate what it is that I like, especially since Wendy can do things with poems that would annoy me in other people's poems. She can be loose without being sloppy.

One might think that an aesthetic judgment that one cannot defend is an unreliable one, but it seems we (or I might say "I," since I have no idea if the phenomenon is widespread) possess aesthetic and even intellectual intuitions that exceed our ability to identify, recognize or analyze what triggers the feelings of pleasure that arise from an encounter with a successful poem. In the case of Wendy's poems, I always recognized a certain surface quality that beguiled and sometimes dazzled, but only upon reading the book did I come to realize that the poems both expressed and embodied a coherent, challenging and stimulating world view. I think I somehow sensed that, among other lovely things going on in Wendy's poems, there was a mind doing excellent work in these poems, but I had no idea of the nature of that work until I tried to review Nevertheless.

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Old 04-20-2012, 11:13 AM
Alex Pepple Alex Pepple is offline
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It's as critically incisive as it's celebratory. An in-depth and excellent review, Jeremy!

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Old 04-21-2012, 11:12 AM
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Chris Childers Chris Childers is offline
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Location: Middletown, DE
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Fine review, which I have only just gotten around to reading. After another thread elsewhere, I have picked up Jonah Lehrer's Imagine, which I am reading with interest. What you say about "ordinary geniuses" vs. "magicians" reminds me of his comment on Dionysian 'divergent' thinking vs. Apollonian 'convergent thinking'--the first a more right-brained, epiphanic approach, the second reliant on analysis and attention. You and I can probably imagine ourselves writing poetry that uses the second kind of thinking more easily than the first.

One small comment: Surely the title of "The Idle" is a pun?

I'm off to read Nevertheless.

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