Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A disappointing underdog | Thoughts

So I've been reading this fairly slim Israeli, independently published poetry collection for just over a month now. I'm not done yet. In fact, I'm only two-thirds of the way through. The book - with its bright orange cover - mocks me from my bedside. I can't seem to finish it.

I know poetry collections aren't like novels. Novels usually need to be read straight through - stops along the way break up the flow and generally make it harder for me to appreciate the book. Poetry isn't like that. Poetry can be read in pieces, spread out across years and years. And yet there's something about reading a poetry collection straight through that thrills me. Reading Sylvia Plath's The Colossus a few weeks back was like that - exhilaration and excitement at the way the poems fit together but didn't overlap. The way they didn't repeat themselves. The way they each stood out.

There's something about rooting for the underdog. It's like the love for all things indie, or strange literature, or translated books, or all of the above. A small, Israeli published poetry collection? Underdog laws say I ought to praise it highly, recommend it to all my friends, spread the word. But I can't, and I feel guilty for it.

The reason I can't is because the collection is, for lack of a better term, boring. The language is lovely and the poems have a great sound when read aloud, but they are lacking heart, diversity and fire. Religious half-themes crop up frequently, but rather emptily, more for their vocabulary than for their actual soul. And personal references are rather detached and emotionless. These poems are bland - not dull and certainly not badly written, but nothing worth mentioning by name and certainly not worth reading in one sitting. They are repetitive. They do not move me.

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