What the what; or, Reading Siken’s War of the Foxes

I’m reading the poems of Richard Siken and am totally intrigued but am unable to identify why exactly. The poems in War of the Foxes are mostly about painting; not about particular paintings necessarily but the process of painting. I guess I’m finding it very interesting to feel a mind at work, roaming among mind, eye, object, intention, query. I’m not always tracking the logic of the poems, not always coming away at the end feeling like I’ve seen something differently or had myself altered in some way. But along the way with many of the poems, I’m transfixed by the playing out of the poem down the page and in the mind. I had not heard about his work before I read the Glück essay that heralded his Yale Poets Prize collection Crush. I have not read Crush, and this work feels very different from what Glück cited in her intro, poems that felt catapulted, urgent. This book is careful. Odd. It’s somehow inspiring me. I keep catching ideas of my own out of the corner of my eye as I read his poems. Much of the book feels like that random, disconnected, scattershot approach that I hate in contemporary poetry — but then there are these moments that ring some gong in me. Something mysterious trembles in the disconnections. Damn. What’s going on here? These are philosophical poems, poems of consideration, of why and wherefore, mixed with birds and colors and foxes and sky, blackbirds and twigs, poems of what on earth are we doing here. That’s my question too. It all gives me paws…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.