Brandon Shimoda
Winter Dwelling
fragments from a relationship                                        (page 9)
western Maine, 2010-2011

MAY 17. Thanks again for the book. Its furious expressionistic yowl—strangely mixed at times with a delicate formality—was surprising: so much poetry of recent years is so cool in tone, even when animated by an aggressive intension. In other words there is a fearlessness there that heartens me. On the other hand I often felt I couldn't grasp where it was going—I would lose the thread between public and private. If there is a single piece of critical writing that has been definitive for my own work as a poet, it is Kenneth Rexroth's introduction to his translation of Pierre Reverdy, and I regularly ponder his warning that "any work of art that coerces the reader or spectator into intense emotional response for which there is no adequate warrant or motive is by definition sentimental"—because even though I accept with him that that's not what happens with Reverdy, I don't know how to articulate the distinction between "coercion" and not, "adequacy" and not. The difference is in the eye of the beholder, and yet it is a difference. I guess I'm saying that in this book I felt like that line was sometimes or even often being crossed even though I can't necessarily say when or where. What I can say is that for me the third part of the book seemed the most focused and consistently the strongest, which maybe just means it took me that long to get the hang of your writing.

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