The Violence of the Morning (Paperback) Review

The Violence of the MorningCal Bedient, The Violence of the Morning (University of Georgia, 2002)

There is a school of poets operating today who it wouldn't be quite right to call language poets, but who are obviously descended from the same tree. Cal Bedient is one of those poets. Sprouting from such roots can certainly have its strong points (once can't imagine one of today's mainstream poets coming up with something like the term "salvadordalliance," which alone is worth the price of admission), but it can also have its weak ones, as well (lord spare me from ever seeing another poet use the tired, and still stupid, cliché of putting open parentheses in his work and never closing them). In Bedient's latest poetic offering, the two balance themselves out, more or less.

A number of the poems in this collection are amusing, well-written, and fun, but a roughly equal number simply don't seem to go anywhere. The latter doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing, if you are so in command of (and so trusting of) your language that you can completely let go of meaning (as in, say, Timothy Donnelly's brilliant Twenty-Seven Props for a Production of Eine Lebenszeit [cf. Rev. 5-12-2005]), but it doesn't seem like Bedient ever quite gets to that threshold; his poems always want to mean something, rather than being simply about the beauty of the language. And this is the trap that so many of those evolved from the common ancestor of language poetry fall into, unfortunately.

Some good stuff to be had here, and some filler and fluff as well. Still, if you stumble across it at a used bookstore or library sale, it's worth a look. ** ½

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