Sunday, March 16, 2008

William Logan

Mr. Logan was born in 1950 and has published over seven books of poetry. He divides his time between Florida and Cambridge, England according to the book I checked out at the library. This book is titled Night Battle published by Penguin Books. I’ve taken a while to get used to his poems, actually. I pick up the beautiful covers that often accompany his words and don’t always connect with the words inside.
This is one of those times where you revisit a poet often because you may not always “get” them and finally you make a connection after several times of attempting to read their work. This is the first time I’ve taken a book of his home with me and finally felt I could read the poems with greater ease. This particular book has quite a few rhyming poems which I am always a fan of. I love free verse just as much, but rhyme has an ability to flow into a rhythm that feels natural. After all, the majority of us are used to rhyme when it comes to song lyrics, and rhyming in poems always feels natural to me.
I have several “dog-eared” corners of poems I enjoyed in his book. Again, I wish I had the ability to request permission to print an entire poem but I usually don’t start far enough ahead to ask permission. One poem I enjoy is “Florida in January” because, of course, I live in Florida and it describes January perfectly for my area. An example of the lines are: “the cold of winter is somehow colder here/ the trees bleaker, with their rags of Spanish moss,/ the very air clipped and impatient.” It goes on to say “But, inshore, a crusty alligator steams,/nosing into reeds let to let off passengers/or take on canvas sacks of mail,” Obviously this poem doesn’t have the rhyme scheme but it has great imagery and I love the line about alligators taking canvas sacks of mail. Almost a Richard Scary kind of detail in a children’s book.
“Small Bad Town” has the rhyme scheme I mentioned earlier and is broken into quatrains with a snapshot of small-town life in each one. For example: “of the local housewife/burning from her soaps./Time sends invitations/in little envelopes.” It plays between the human and animal life in this small town which I enjoy since most people forget that wildlife shares the same space without our realizing it. It’s a great idea for a poem, I think.
The whole book is divided into sections and I enjoy the poems in all of them. Some are still hard for me to grasp, but I continue to challenge myself into reading them and I suggest you do the same for any poet who may initially grab your interest but stump you at some point. I must have read the poem “Niobe” several times because I couldn’t get the story line straight within it. There are several characters and I had trouble identifying who played what role in the story.
I challenge all of you to challenge yourself in your reading of poetry. Do not deny a poet because you don’t understand them, just pick the books up again from time to time and read through several until finally one “clicks.” You’ll be pleasantly surprised. In the meantime, check out the links below and please read William Logan’s poems when you stumble upon them.

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Dave King said...

I do not know Logan's work - and that alone makes it a challenge for me. I shall certainly look it up, though I already have a couple of similarly resistant poets on the go, notably W.S. Graham. I always enjoy my visits to your blog.

Poet Hound said...

Mr. King,
Thanks so much for the kind words. There are several poets out there who I want to enjoy but still have to re-visit before I'm ready. Glad you have the same dilemma.