Modern Life: Poems Summary å 104

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Modern Life: Poems Summary å 104 ¿ Matthea Harvey's Modern Life introduces a new voice that tries to exist in the gray area between good and evil love and hate In the central seuences The Future of Terror and The Terror of the Future Harvey imagines citizens and soldiers at the end of their wits at the impending end of the world Her prose pieces anIn poems about centaurs ship figureheads and a robot boy Throughout Harvey's signature wit and concision show us the double sided nature of reality of what we see and what we kno. A reader of Harvey’s previous collections will no doubt find familiar ground in Modern Life dream like narratives the freuent appearance of horses an inventive playfulness “Pug owners are 90% likely to deny that they look like their pets than other dog owners” for instance Harvey is attracted to the proper noun and in her poems we encounter “Ghost Morse Code” for the stripes on the road “not the new ones but the ones the wheels had worn away” the representation of the sun as a “Gravity Hinge” the invention of “Unreuited Love Puppies” beside the heartless hamsters and inside out Chihuahuas Half prose and half lineated these poems gesture from the political to the intimate see “The Invention of Love” from the strangely fictitious to the hauntingly real; in each case a broken world is never than a page or two away “I know what you’ll say and it’s true We may already be drowning if we choose to take the aerial view” The poems in Modern Life deserve multiple readings especially those in “The Future of Terror” and “Terror of the Future” seuences the diction of which can admittedly be distracting as the language of each poem progresses seuentially through the alphabet “The Future of Terror 11” concludes with a hint of discovery a hint of indifference a hint of resignation “There was one shot left in my rifle I polished my plimsolls I wrapped myself in a uilt So this is how you live in the present” Harvey’s poems are full of such epiphany and Modern Life should be kept close at hand for this reason

Matthea Harvey Ð 4 Summary

Terror of the Future Harvey imagines citizens and soldiers at the end of their wits at the impending end of the world Her prose pieces and lyrics examine the divided halved self. In a bit of a rush but I want to get this uick review off to you Modern Life is the third in Harvey's collections of poems and is most notable for the two sections The Future of Terror and The Terror of the Future which anchor the book like two firm columns running through this seven sectioned collection Please pick up a copy at Graywolf Like much of Harvey's work the book as a whole is extremely organized with a parallel section structure that runs roughly like thisIntroThe Future of TerrorArt section IRobo boy sectionArt section IIThe Terror of the FutureClosingPoems in the TofF and FofT sections follow a similar rigid organization as Harvey describes in the notes the poems The Future of Terror and Terror of the Future were inspired by making lists of the words in the dictionary between future and terror They are not strict abecedarian poems because they are not acrostics but they do mimic the abecedarius's alphabetical footsteps The words future and terror act like A and B they were the markers that mattered And one feels this alphabetical counting strongly moving forward in the TofF section and backward in the FofT which has this cumulative somewhat bewildering effect on the reader's sense of time especially as we seem both in some imagined future and some imagined present This is the core strength of the collection I believe in that Harvey seems to accomplish what so much science fiction cannot by bringing her strange universe and her strange futurism to a very private level in the reader No doubt Harvey is characteristically challenging colorful and witty and any reader thinking this collection to be a critiue of the War on Terror is right only insofar as Miami is representative of America thanks Jay TofF speaks mostly from a soldier's point of view and FofT speaks mostly from a citizen in maybe post apocalyptic world point of view what better place than these parentheses to mention that the sense of apocalypse in this collection is very sophisticated perhaps that it's not even post apocalyptic or dystopian but some caffeine addled dream of the mucus drenched entanglement of the two Here's a taste of The Future of Terror from The Future of Terror 3 which has my favorite image in the collection though I will not get to it below why not here Periodically we started projects one man made dents in the shape of stars on the inside of his PO Box with a Phillips head screwdriverOur protestations sounded like heronson the hi fi Even armed with invoicesit's human nature to proceed inch mealWe were a sad jumble of journeymen and here'sthe kicker a few of us had never been loveAnd here from Terror of the Future 9The teacups tied to strings along the walkwaystayed silent had no warning songs to singWe shook talc onto our tastebudsand watched the skyrockets starry eyeduntil night blacked them out like a giantmalevolent SharpieWhile the projects of these two sections provide the most ostensible place to go for meaning they are not in fact what I most enjoy about this collection Like many things I think there are many great moments in these poems but too often I feel the form a bit clumsy and while I like stepping alphabetically up and down the aforementioned feeling this evokes I prefer Harvey when she is a bit freer to design her poems according to image Which let me mention Harvey is a design poet something I like to fancy I am I don't mean she's a formalist by any means but time and time the meaning I get out of her work is a direct result of the way she designs things her counterpoints juxtapositions transfigurations etc and if you would be so kind as to remind me next week I'd like to get into this idea thoroughly poetry as design as opposed to poetry as testamentThe geometrically true center of this collection is in the Robo boy poems and as the blurbs on Graywolf's site suggest this is very involved in this sense of fragmentation of being in half a monster half human half something else missing something etc Robo boy by the thorough involvement by the poet in hashing out several poems on him develops the strongest sense of character and in this way is perhaps the lightest reading of the book in the clarity of concern the poems have He's somewhat hapless and pitiful but loveable and very relatable in pretty standard ways we all feel his sense of estrangement his robot among humans confusions But by no means are these feelings limited to this group of poems Rather they are extremely pervasive throughout the collection and I think the strongest meaning in the book our collective contemporary state of estrangement both from the governing principles of our societies and institutions and sadly from each other Hence the title Modern Life and not Future LifeHarvey has a great accomplishment regarding this latter notion in that throughout the remaining prose poems she is able to write pieces playfully surreal creating what feel almost like installations on the page and others that are much deeply personal direct addresses matters of romance perhaps or certainly intimate human connections which are especially prevalent in the closing section whose emotional tenor is satisfyingly amped The variation makes for peppy readingLet me close this by giving two examples of the prose poems the first being this kind of installation poem and the latter being this intimate one From Waitressing in the Room with a Thousand MoonsThe moons desperately want to circle something so when a dish comes out they dive bomb it bump into each other and a dusting of moon rock falls into the food They know the plate won't be a planet We've been here for centuries and not once has a planet come in I guess they do it just in case Having lived most of their lives too close to everything their sense of perspective is poorAnd You Know This Too in entiretyYou Know This TooThe bird on the gate and the goat nosing the grass below make a funny little fraction thinks the centaur He wonders if this thought is human than horse poetry than prose Sometimes it's hard not to abandon the whole rigmarole of standing at the counter using a knife and fork to politely eat his steak and peas to go outside and put his head in the grass But what his stomach wants his tongue won't touch; what his mouth wants his stomach recoils from Through the restaurant window he sees flashes of silver and pink in the river It's so clogged with mermaids and mermen there's no room for fish And under the bridge a group of extremist griffins intent on their graffitti Long Live the Berlin The spray paint runs out and while they're shaking the next can in their clenched claws the centaur spells out Wall on his napkin and sketches next to it a girl in seuins getting sawed in half

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Modern Life PoemsMatthea Harvey's Modern Life introduces a new voice that tries to exist in the gray area between good and evil love and hate In the central seuences The Future of Terror and The. these are poems that even a non poetry lover can appreciate most of them read like little bite sized prose pieces with accessible imagery and just enough uirk to get my attention i seem to have a knack for subconsciously selecting things to read that are somehow similar in tone and vibe because it was a really great follow up to littlest hitler yay me