Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Marguerite Pigeon's Inventory

The objects in Marguerite Pigeon's first book of poetry, Inventory (2009), are given moderately searching attitudes and often quirky personalities, so as such projects go, it's an entertaining and breezy read. The (mostly) banal subject/object matter is titularly arranged by the alphabet to emphasize the democratic nature of the endeavour. No hierarchy of significance, which unfortunately means no hierarchy of mood, pressure, statement. Poems are mostly in third person (from "Bicycle": "City cruiser, ghetto low-rider, banana seat/with tinfoil rainbow streamers."). An exception is "Pancreas", and it's the best in the volume. The first person (or first organ, if you will) allows Pigeon the room for emotional development, and the poem unfolds in continuous surprise and complexity, the personality imbued with a wise care for harmony, yet devastated by loneliness and lack of received love and appreciation: ("The Islets of Langerhans./Exotic, but no one visits."). Par for the collection, though, are revelations which aren't convincing or rivetting, no matter that many "Hair Dryer"s are occasionally (one would think) countered with a "Cunt", where "I feel the shame and exhilaration of keeping company with such an eccentric, independent relative." Contrast this, for example, with Sharon McCartney's object poems in The Love Song of Laura Ingalls Wilder in which the objects overspill the pages as unpredictable, even dangerous, creations, both universal and highly individualistic, lit from within.

I'm left feeling that Pigeon is -- however sensitively -- struggling to complete an exercise and it's one more reason (of many) why the project book, dominant in today's poetical procedure and landscape, is (with many fine exceptions, of course) a wrong turn for poetry in general.

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