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Forgive My Trespassing (2008): Is There Such a Class As Remedial Poetry?

Cynthia Blomquist Gustavson, Forgive My Trespassing (Blooming Twig Books, 2008)

[note: review originally published 15Jan2009]


photo credit:

We can’t show it to you because the Internet fails us (and it’s packed away somewhere I can’t easily get to it).

Every once in a while, I get a press release about a book and its title catches my eye. Since the press releases I get usually offer a copy of the book for review, I feel compelled to request one. I wish I could say, just once, that a title in a press release had caught my eye because it was especially interesting in some way. But I can’t. The books I request, in general, have titles that are horribly mangled in some sense; the spelling is atrocious, the grammar wouldn’t pass in a third-grade English class, or, in this case, the quote being quoted is in some way off. In the last case, I usually give folks the benefit of the doubt; twisting a clichéd quote (as Gustavson does here) can be a springboard to creativity, if it’s then used right. From a book with the title Forgive My Trespassing, I get the idea of some sort of Appalachian religious-nut bard singing in a high, tuneless voice about the end of the world. Maybe that’s just me. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s just me, at least given the contents of this collection. While the author does show that the mangling of the cliché was intentional, I still have to wonder:

Suddenly he lowers his voice,
glances around the room,
leans near his friend
and whispers quietly,
Hey, Man,
want to hear my favorite poem?
A Chinese lady wrote it

and he recites a long haiku
about life being hard…”
(“The Messy-Haired Man”)

I started having a hard time with this book on things other than the technical details when I hit the phrase “long haiku” (something that, of course, does not exist). The technical problems were all there already, as can be seen from the quote; lack of enjambment, adverb use, language that just kind of sits there and doesn’t really do much of anything. Not to say there isn’t some potential for Gustavson to develop into a good poet, as she’s obviously got the eye for it, but having the art down is only half the battle; one must also learn the craft, and in that way, Gustavson has a way to go yet. * ½

About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

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