Best Thing I’ve Read Today: Alexis Pope

9 Oct

bsheaderThe most recent installment of Banango Street (issue 5) is, ostensibly, a laundry list of swell, younger poets: Gale Marie Thompson, Nate Pritts, Elisa Gabbert & Kathleen Rooney, Kyle McCord, Weston Cutter, and Julia Cohen (just to name a few). To this end, the entire issue is well worth checking out and giving it a top-to-bottom read. But one poem, particularly, stuck out for me: Alexis Pope’s “Middle English.” It begins:

I have a body to show you because I was born.

Try to remember the winter. Try to knock down the door with your thoughts. It’s hard, the way my mouth moves forward on you. I have a tongue to wet. A throat to wait.

The opening line plays with ideas of corporeality and origination, then transitions into a series of sentences dealing with memory, its articulation through language, and both of these concepts’ relationship to the body.

The remainder of the of poem unfolds into a strange world of goats, drums, headaches, and, yes, heartbreak. Pope’s poem, indeed, marches “to the side,” swerving this way and that, so as to leave the audience in a state of “disorder to the [very] bottom” of their reading experience. This sense of disorder, I think, makes for a terrific poem.

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