Earl Gray

Earl Gray
"You can argue with me but, in the end, you'll have to face that fact that you're arguing with a squirrel." - Earl Gray

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Great Poems of Our Time: "Antiblurb"

No one who knows my views on the current state of criticism should be surprised that I'd include a poem called "Antiblurb" in this series of great 21st century poetry. Neverthless, this poem deserves to be on any list of fine contemporary verse. It is, to use a template phrase, a clinic on poetry. Please take a moment to read it and the author's biography here.

"Antiblurb" exhibits deft technique, beginning with a lot of alliteration used to good effect, including:

  • not necessary...neither
  • hymn to harmonize
  • bold bellwether
  • flock, no iridescent feather dropped from

Aside from the rhymes, the poem uses assonance sparingly but with considerable efficacy:

  • generation's...bellwether...iridescent feather
There are some subtle word associations, as with juxtaposing "crucial", which invokes the cross/crux, and "salvation". The slow consonantal "sh" sounds of "crucial" and "salvation" underscores the link between the words. Similarly, in Ms. Stallings' native Georgia, the "har-" in "harmonize" and the "choir-" ("kwar"?) in "choirs" (S1-L3) would sound very much alike.

We see a cute metrical trick in S1-L4, resolved by enunciating "bellweather" as a spondee rather than a dactyl, allowing the "-er" to soften the initial trochee in the subsequent line:

Nor |any gen|erat|ion's bold | bellweth'r
leading | the flock, | no ir|ides|cent feath'r

The volta is sharply turned, going from the negated to the asserted. The focus on abstraction rather than imagery may not make for a great video (see below) but, in the hands of a skilled actor or actress, "Antiblurb" can be good performance material.

Of the authors whose work will be mentioned in this series, A.E. Stallings may be the only one that Print Worlders recognize. She is a crossover, actively contributing to Eratosphere. Her "Fairy-Tale Logic" was used in the Poetry Out Loud project. While Alicia's career has attracted considerable attention, garnering numerous awards, "Antiblurb" has been strangely overlooked by critics. Go figure.

Next: "How Aimee remembers Jaguar" by Erin Hopson

  1. "Studying Savonarola" by Margaret A. Griffiths
  2. "Beans" by D. P. Kristalo
  3. "Antiblurb" by A. E. Stallings
  4. "How Aimée remembers Jaguar" by Eric Hopson
  5. "There Are Sunflowers in Italy" by Didi Menendez
  6. "Auditing the Heart" by Frank Matagrano


  1. What is it then all about? I dont get the poet's point. :/

    1. Your question reminds me of the Kurt Vonnegut scene where an angel sees God looking down on trivial human life and asks: "What's the point?"

      Surprised by the query, God responds: "There has to be a point?"

      Here the theme seems to be all too clear, spelled out in the finale: "...it is what we do not need that makes us human."

      Thank you for your interest, Yen. Sorry it took me so long to respond.


Your comments and questions are welcome.