Thursday, November 30, 2006

Evacuation of the Self

The poetry of Mark Strand, identified in this VQ article as self-annihilating. I love Strand; I suppose it's not odd to hear a writer who went to college in Iowa City say that, but I do. I found him early on, through a friend and poet named Kevin, and that first collection I read, Reasons for Moving, really made an impact on me. It formed a lot of ideas I would have about how to approach the Angel Book; in several of the poems, the narrator speaks to someone else, like in "The Suicide", where he's trying to jump off a building, but meets resistance, and more specifically for me, "The Man In The Mirror," where the narrator speaks to a lost loved one, of his grief and turmoil:

Buried in the darkness of your pockets,
your hands are motionless.
You do not seem awake.
Your skin sleeps

and your eyes lie in the deep
blue of their sockets,
impossible to reach.
How long will all this take?

These poems gave me the kernel of the idea of a narrator (the dead party in my novel), talking to a loved one still alive. It took my years to figure out how to do this - if I have - since my dead voice is able to speak, think, and yet observe and know the thoughts of others. She can flow through 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person in a single sentence, and it's like riding a wave; it's exhilirating, and then it crashes down on you.

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