Thursday, July 26, 2012
Review: I Don't Mind if You're Feeling Alone
4 Stars - Strongly Recommended to fans of poems that do not look like poems
Publisher: Yes Yes Books
Looking for intense, intimate poetry? Look no further than Thomas Patrick Levy. His collection - I Don't Mind if You're Feeling Alone - has it in spades.
What you'll find here is not poetry so much as blasts of concentrated, unfiltered thought, scribbled out seemingly in the moment, words rushing and tripping over each other, competing with each other. What you'll find is an abundance of corn in a town that doesn't know how to use it all. Corn that infiltrates the very breath and life of a young couple. You'll find a stalker who is so taken with someone that their car, the only thing easily accessible to him, becomes the object of his passion and rage, becoming a near-replacement of their body. You'll find obsessive notes to Scarlett Johansson, written out as if in one big rush of breath, void of all punctuation, that make desperate and crazed pleas to the actress. The Scarlett Johansson letters are by far my favorite. I spoke these out loud to myself, one evening when I was home alone, just to hear the crazy come out.
Levy doesn't make it easy for the reader. Much of what he says is coded and hidden behind other words, spoken in riddles that dance across the page. Or, at least, that's how it felt to me. After I stopped trying to make it all make sense and just let the words wash over me, I discovered that his language speaks more clearly to the heart than the head.
Some of the lines within his poems really zinged me. You know the feeling... when you read a line and immediately the goosebumps grow on your arms, and you get that electric feeling through you? Lines that speak to some unfamiliar part of you? Like:
"I want to keep this warmth in small jars"
"In the night I want to hold the shape of your toes"
"We are a parking lot of ruined insides"
"Everything is a drained battery or your heavy cheeks or a pair of boots"
"Like a puddle I come together around your toes"
I think Levy's collection is one to simply be read. Don't fight to understand it. Speak the lines out loud and let their meanings come to you on their own. Poetry is only scary if you make it that way. It's truly beautiful and heart wrenching stuff, when you let it talk to you...