Tuesday, September 03, 2002

When I read Keats, I sense the potential for a new and different kind of relationship between the sentence and line, one that is more modular and sensuous. But whenever I have tried to reach this intuited new balance, it dissolves on me, a chimera. Someone who comes much closer to this balance than anything I have ever been able to achieve is Jennifer Moxley in The Sense Record and Other Poems (Edge Books, 2002), although whether she has Keats in mind or not would be strictly conjecture on my part – the book’s epigraph thanks Keith (presumably Waldrop) “for Yeats.” Of course the use of long sentences running over multiple lines has been associated with Ashbery (and behind him, Stevens), but The Sense Record in no way comes across as being Ashberyesque in the way that works (especially early ones) by Yau, Towle or others have. Rather it seems that Moxley is after a new mode of discourse – one might call it a rhetoric – both calm and thoughtful, more sensuous and serious than any we have had in poetry in some time. It doesn’t always work, but the intellectual ambition that drives this poetry is riveting.