blogging · book reviews

For Once, Rocks aren’t Boring

Goodreads images.
Goodreads images.

Good evening, dear readers!

I’m taking a mini study break in the library. My coffee-fueled brain has pulled up three tabs, all articles revolving around the poet Mary Oliver; I’ve got several new Oliver related backgrounds in my photo library; my boyfriend has been cursing Windows 8 on his laptop–it’s not as user-friendly as Windows 7.

I’m reading Don McKay’s Strike/Slip for my Senior Seminar tonight. So far, I find his poetry both challenging–mostly because of his scientific language–and accessible due to his sense of humor, down-to-Earth tone, and his references to literature, art, and film.

Keep in mind that McKay is Canadian. It’s important in a bit.

Some gems so far (he does occasionally use harsh language):

We could tell you/how those fuck-ups in Deliverance/ fucked up:

(1) stupid tin canoe

(2) couldn’t/do the J-stroke

(3) wore life jackets

(4) didn’t/have the wit to be immortal/and ephemeral as we were.

– from “Precambrian Shield”

. . . you’re all the riff-raff Noah/

had no room for, uncountable/

Canada geese and not-quite-standard moose,/

you’re everyone who ever/

missed the playoffs

– from “Alluvium”

Suppose Narcissus/

were to find a nice brown pond/

to gaze in: would the course of self-love/

run so smooth with that exquisite face/

rendered in bruin undertone,/

shaken, and floated in the murk/

between the deep sky and the ooze?

– from “Pond”

Normally, Geology isn’t my thing. I’m an English major. Yes, I will occasionally pick up rocks, or snap pictures of a pretty mushroom or perhaps a tree, but I don’t like to extensively study rocks. Unless, I guess, these minerals are unique. Like amethyst.

Rocks are cool. But I’m not going to school to study their ins and outs.

McKay, as a poet, molds words to make places like the Canadian Shield interesting. That’s a gift. His use of humor and imagery are clear, remaining distinct throughout Strike/Slip. He knows how to utilize pop and literary references; he knows when to throw in a Biblical or an art history joke. McKay, I think, is quickly becoming one of my new favorite poets.

His poetry actually makes me interested in rocks–er–minerals.


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