007.1: Rachel Moritz:: Sumac & Little House 007

I normally dislike it when poets are compared to other poets. Flashback to 2002: I was in a poetry workshop during my MFA candidacy and one of my peers writes little else on my poem but: "This shit reminds me of Charles Wright. Send it out!" Not only was she wrong in her comparison, but I scrapped that poem for good. Flash-forward to 2005, where I am teaching a creative writing class and we're discussing Tony Hoagland's "What Narcissism Means to Me" and one of my more apt-minded students blurts out: "He reminds me of that Dean Young dude and that Ruefle lady." Though some may argue there is some truth to this young man's point, the observation has given me the jitters to this very day. However, something in Rachel Moritz's poetry reminds me of the work of Hugh Seidman. He is as important a poet as any who wrote in the last thirty years, one who cannot be pegged in the various "camps" that seemingly all poets get lumped into. I am unsure if Rachel has ever read Seidman, not that that matters either. Where Moritz and Seidman converge is in their delightful play with syntax and form.

The first poem here from Moritz weaves a wonderful tapestry of disjoined and unpunctuated syntax (a form Seidman is quite comfortable in), and the second a delightful litany of sorts. Particulars matter to construct a beautiful whole (Is that Charlie Kaufman clowning me again for having never been to Synecdoche, NY?). The wonderful dexterity in the lines replaces the sentence as a unit of composition in the poem, and the suspension of one ideas transition to the next is an artful use of gravity and variation. Neither poet can be accused of twisting standard rules of syntax and form for the sake of being novel, original, or rebellious. Like Seidman, Moritz is comfortably in her zone, and the poems argue that. They show us that if we cannot change the world, then we can change how we write about it, and if we cannot change what we write about, for it is our lives, we can alter how we represent it. Cody Todd

Sumac

 

Confetti tree, how you gladden our day 

Across the lawn it is
December, a wake  

blushed where flowers once hung 

illicit from the stems 



Now there is only this very dilate
sun, the almond-eyed clouds the child- 

head obviates through 

as rain, left
dangling 



As many remnants of sleep
fight possibly for us, 

coupling in absentia
No one to make but our ourselves 



And waves till witness where
there was none, 

only driftwood 



Indelicate measures     aloneness on the shoreline

owned by a manger of nothing tonguing
the skin around obvious fruit


Little House


1.  This way of being inside a parent’s necessity.
2.  Up at night, leaned on the whitewashed wall, several variations to pain.
3.  Not unlike our later episodes.
4.  I call the animation, growing down.
5.  As a great deal of wood goes loaded into a fireplace.
6.  Wildly hinged, a valley’s lean-to, vined by our bare boughs.
7.  This way of being inside fear is childhood.
8.  Anodyne conditioned on a gold basilica of air.
9.  The very act we responded to, locking our windows and doors.
10.  Not understanding how long the house requires of you.
11.  As a great deal of wood goes loaded into, sired.