Poems like untucked shirts

In extension to the previous Brautigan post and suburbanlife’s comment, here’s a quote from an article about Brautigan by Albert H. Norman (Newsweek, 29 Dec. 1969), quoted in the Brautigan Bibliography and Archive:

Brautigan’s collected poems, The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster, are too uneven to be truly satisfying. He lacks the abstract depth of Wallace Stevens and the focus of William Carlos Williams. The poems are too casual, like an untucked shirt. The title poem is a typical example: “When you take your pill/it’s like a mine disaster./I think of all the people/lost inside of you.” The wit is aborted, premature. A poem like “Man” is simply too hurried: “With his hat on/he’s about five inches taller/than a taxicab.” Mocking the imagist tradition, and yet pointing up his own weakness, Brautigan writes: “A piece of green pepper/fell/off the wooden salad bowl:/so what?”

What’s to be said about that?

  1. Apples should not be compared to pears. Both taste good. Liking Stevens or Williams (who is yet another type of fruit, perhaps a plum?) does not exclude liking Brautigan and the other way round.
  2. An untucked shirt too casual? Depends on who and where you are. I’ll take an untucked shirt any time over a stuffed shirt or pinstripe suit and tie (which is probably what poor Wallace Stevens was forced to wear most of his life).
  3. Wit is aborted, premature? Well, babes, some of us just likes it short & to the point. We don’t call it aborted & premature.
  4. Yeah, right: the focus on the red wheelbarrow and the white chickens. (Now that was cheap & mean, wasn’t it?)
  5. So what.

About James Steerforth

I am an author of poetry and fiction, translator and painter who loves to have fun with borrowed feathers.
This entry was posted in Bland observations, Book reviews, Creative writing, Literature, Poetry, Rant, Stellar poetry, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Poems like untucked shirts

  1. maryt says:

    I don’t know Brautigan but thanks for introducing me to him, James! 🙂

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