Saturday, May 7, 2011

Joe Denham's Windstorm

Windstorm, Sunshine Coaster Joe Denham's 2009 effort, is more ambitious than his first book, both organically and philosophically. I think the integration problemmatic at times -- (the desire to mount the pulpit is indulged a little too often for my liking: "so the mind's flow forever eddies//there where the voices crossed over, contrapuntal/to our dissonant array.") -- but (in the same sequence) he gains a greater victory by expertly trading the anecdote with the overview in a believable and seamless interplay.

Lyrical virtuosity is lovely, with its hidden scaffolding for the most part supporting the strong rhythms, and is cleverly exploited. Most pleasingly, sound isn't offered in a poverty of release, but echoes with other sounds in many other lines, fore and aft. However, like any creator drunk on the gift of those assertions, Denham occasionally runs away with the ball when (for example) consonantal giddiness overwhelms: "cupreous and inculpable through the clouds/and we are/carried forth to the expectantly/cadenced conclusion./Our collective collusion." (There are indents in the original.) As in other places, Denham's good ideas are defeated here by the procedure, though the reverse is often true of many poets, who display impressive polish, but have little to say. There are, though, many patches in this lengthy five-verse sequence when the two unite to form exquisite lines: "Sappho's/sweetapple, efflorescent in the unexpected/the unaccustomed white, perches bird-/like in song, as sunrays cloud-split."

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