Lurking in the Background Shrubs
After more than five years I finally selected a new photograph for my main web site: click here to view the new image.
The Centrifugal Eye officially accepted my long poem “Fragments: East St. Louis, 1996”— should be out in August this summer. This one accomplishment makes up for many rejections over the past eight or nine years— every time the poem was passed up by various magazines I questioned the experimental approach placed in the text. I questioned the message, the theme of bitterness, the persona’s insistent persistence at finding beauty in ruins. Ruin in his personal life. In the decay of buildings constructed during the height of the past century.
Over time I did make changes, slight re-phrasings of some stanzas, but always kept the poem’s basic structure. A sharp eye may notice the format for section i and ii are deconstructed blank sonnets. Section iii in turn becomes something other, no longer following a formula or scheme. I wanted the text to act as a metaphor of inner city decay. The older ideas shown merging with an encroaching modernism—which results in a destruction of the old foundations, rather than a restoration of the past architecture. The poem is divided up into four sections, each one composed of a collaged approach towards reality; fragments of similar verses loosely, somewhat haphazardly combined into one full poem. The persona, lost in a scene of dilapidation, begins reflecting on the chaos in his life and tries to reconstruct a sense of strength in his individuality, rather than maintain an attitude of loss. Midway through the poem the “you” addressed by the persona shifts from a representation of anyone/everyone to a representation of his own self, or the city or a companion slightly distanced, emotionally and physically.
Eve Hanninen, the editor of The Centrifugal Eye did make some astute editorial tightening of lines. And two grammatical errors were fixed, errors I should have seen lurking in the background shrubs of the poem. Over all the acceptance proves to me that my voice does carry merit—a fact that I need to repeat to myself on the bad days when rejections are more plentiful than accolades.
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