The Standardized Carter-Westling Empirical Weirdness Evaluation Engine

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

October 11

Harlot by Jill Alexander Essbaum

Hot damn. Okay, I still wasn't thrilled with the rhyming. But otherwise, this is a cascade of alternating wit and power and I love it.


Amazon Parable by Jeffrey Thomson

I quite liked this, with its handful of to-die-for lines. But it's frustrating at the same time because it could be spectacular and isn't. It's good. It pleases me. I read it yesterday and went to the fair instead of reviewing it, so today I write a review like a penitent.


Horse Madness by David Baker

Some wonderfully strong images held down by ruminations on Vergil. I'm not that big a fan of first-degree Vergiling, let alone second-degree Vergilation.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Is poetry reviewing worth the time?

I asked over on my blog and have posed a challenge to review some poetry. So far, a few people have joined in. Please join the conversation. I want to know.

October 9

Post— by Jill Alexander Essbaum

I love rhymes in poems, both subtle and overt. But generally in free verse, rhyme seems self-conscious, as if the poet wants to be able to distance herself from the idea of rhyme while using the chime of rhyme. I liked quite a bit about this poem, but the rhymes struck my ear as very contrived and clunky, not extravagant, elegant, or playful--all potential attributes of good rhyming.


Spittoono Lily by Thorpe Moeckel

No one could accuse Moeckel of treading too-well-worn ground here. There are a few turns of phrase that I appreciate, but. Well. I've been saying that a lot lately, respecting a few lines out of a poem but not really appreciating the whole. That isn't how I want to be.


by Joanie Mackowski

A pretty poem with some quite attractive images, but the sum of the parts doesn't resonate with me. For once, I think the poem could afford to be longer, could afford a plot instead of a précis, something to bind these images into something more significant than a list in a poem.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

If you like the WEE reviews

Check out Greg Perry's g r a p e z. He did it first and he does it better.

October 5

Note to a Pine Ridge Girl Who Can No Longer Read by Adrian C Louis

That's an intriguing title, but I found myself drifting throughout the poem. Nothing really captured me, anchored me. A few striking moments.


Why We Took the Coastal Evacuation Route by Eleanor Lerman

Though I like repetition, I found the incantory "we tooks" to be annoying. Still, I liked this poem, especially the strange, opaque ending and the matter-of-fact reportage.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

October 4

Crows by Deborah Bogen

Oh, I do like that. I tend to resist poems with such short lines, but this one works for me, with its short quick ideas and repetition repetition repetition. So happy.


Experience by Christine Scanlon

I think Scanlon is simply working with a completely different asthetic than mine. I like very strong images, and I like them organic. I'm not much of a philosophizer. Strike that. I'm not a philosophizer at all. So abstract poems rarely spark anything in my noggin.


Eidolon by Elaine Terranova

This is a poem with some prettiness, but it felt empty to me. I felt unconnected and irrelevant as a reader. I had nothing to bring to the table.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

October 3

The Italics are Mine! by Dara Wier

This poem comes out in such a rush it's a bit breathless by the end. The voice here is young and intense and definitely supported by the emphasis of italics, the passion of the exclamation point.


A Wife Explains Why She Likes Country by Barbara Ras

The funny thing is, I'm from the country, and everything in this poem is another reason why I don't like the country. I hate big hair and double-wides and that old-time religion. Yet, I love the poem. Who'da thunk?


As far from the moon by Christine Scanlon

I can't claim to understand this odd little poem. My first read was a shruggy one, but when I came back to it to get my link ready, I reread and found something tickling at the back of my brain, something that made me say, "Hey, that's different than I thought I remembered." Can I be changed in the span of a few minutes? What will I think tomorrow?

Monday, October 02, 2006

October 2

Deposition by Peg Boyers

When I got to
The sword
that I have always known would pierce my heart

I pretty much gave up. Poems have a finite opportunity to grab me, which I sometimes power through because of this project. But I just lacked the will.


That Hiccup was Optimism by Christine Scanlon

I'm not sold on this poem. Disappointing because I think the title is divine. I'm too in love with images to embrace this.


This Is How It Is by Neil Shepard

If the last 8 lines were hacked off of this, I think I'd love it. It's hard to tell, since they lurk there despite my attempts to ignore them. I do wonder why people (including my husband) like the horrible, awful, clingy smell of lilacs. I shall put it down to insanity.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

September 27

The Nearest Simile is Respiration by Ashley Capps

I don't particularly like this poem, but at least there's an energy there, a real feeling of passion and fervency. So many poems lately seem to be too cool for school. Maybe it's just that I'm so uncool that I feel inadequate when things are cool. Dunno. I did feel this poem worked rather like smelling salts on me.


[is that all you do] by Jon Woodward

There isn't much here here, no real images or charged language. Breaking things into lines doesn't make things poetry, and neither does just taking out punctuation.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

September 26

At His House by Stephen Dunn

Someone could write a poem about this topic and make it so appealing, but Dunn hasn't done that here. So much in poetry has nothing to do with what is written about, but how, and this poem is a prime example of the what being unexceptionable and the how being unexceptional.


distances by William Allegrezza

There's a different personality between, say, Poetry Daily poems and No Tell Motel poems. The latter take more risks, generally, and the former are more polished. This poem, though, didn't strike me as risky or particularly polished. It feels unfinished, and unfocused as well. Of course, editors picking something aside from their usual is also a risk. I don't think this one panned out, but I'm always interested to see what tomorrow brings.


Osmosis by Lauren Goodwin Slaughter

In the risk v. polish sweepstakes, Verse Daily is often drawing a middle line. For some reason, being in the middle poetry-wise is rarely a good place to be. This poem, oh, I don't know. I can't put my finger on anything in particular that throws me, and I rather like the egg line, but the poem as a whole just leaves me cold. Three poems, three shrugs means it's generally me.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

September 21

Elegy: Airport by Kevin Prufer

I didn't much like anything in this poem beyond the first strophe, but I did like that first strophe quite a lot. That's why reviewing isn't really about finding an average, but about reading and then trying to figure out what you're feeling about what you just read. No numbers, no objectivity, no rules.


Paraphrase of the Parable of the Prodigal Son by Stanley Plumly

I don't even know what to say other than that didn't work for me at all.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

September 20

Smaller Dog by Stephen Cushman

The whole poem for me is in the final two strophes. Until then, it wasn't a painful read, but had nothing particularly sparkly about it. The end is lovely, but too little too late for me. Still, I'd read more by this poet with interest.


Excavation of the John Alden House and Notes on the Riverbank by David Roderick

The first poem is ponderous, with few word choices to elevate it above dense prose. The second poem, though it isn't exactly to my taste, has some transformative language, some very important phrasing. It sings and settles. A quarter of the words, and five times the meaning for this reviewer.


Tennessee by Alison Stine

It's hard sometimes to read a poem that connects so well without hearing a tiny voice saying "if it were miiine I would..." Just a little nip, a little tuck, but I like it as it stands and don't you doubt it.


Feeder Lamb by Robin Yim

Oh, lambs in poems are certainly fraught with all sorts of complicated symbology, but this one grabbed me hard with the second line. I cared, though this isn't a surprising poem, or remotely cutting-edge. Oh dear. It's a dead animal poem again. I should seek therapy.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Please read more from the reviewed poets

Links to right are to some of the reviewed poets' websites. Please check them out and show them you're out there, reading. The internet can be like shouting into a well at times, and lord knows poetry has few enough rewards.

If I have reviewed your work and you would like a link, just ask. I'd be happy to put one on the sidebar. I can't guarantee a lot of traffic, but I'm happy to do it anyway.

September 19

Big Fun by Alison Stine

Julie: A line can make a poem, or overshadow it, or destroy it, or change it. And there are times when I can't say what a specific line is doing, which of these transformative motions it's causing. I can only say that it's happening. Something is happening.
In the blood, in the body, I am hard little

Awwww yeah.


Blue Visits
by Rane Arroyo

Julie: First, the name "Rane Arroyo"? Rocks. In any case, this poem starts with a real bang, and I was really impressed with the first strophe, but then things sort of slip away from me, like the drowned circling a drain.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A tentative toe back in the water

I might be relaunching some WEE reviews, but I think I might go with a different model. If readers would like to suggest specific published poems, available online, for review, that might be a neat way to keep me a little more focused.

So, if you're reading this and would like to suggest a poem for review, something that you thought was interesting or wonderful or you just ended up curious to hear another reaction on, please do. And please always feel free to comment on any reviews. I have a bit of a soapbox here, but I would prefer a town meeting.

Suggest poems via email or in the comment section.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

On hiatus

I've fallen so far behind and haven't found the inspiration to keep up with the daily reviews.

Someday, I'll have energy.

Friday, August 18, 2006

How to Be Cruel by Sandra Beasley

Julie: Damn. Just damn. Read this one.