Monday, April 1, 2013

Analysis of "Hemingway Dines on Boiled Shrimp and Beer" by Campbell McGrath

Original poem reprinted online here:  "Hemingway Dines on Boiled Shrimp and Beer" by Campbell McGrath
Originally read: January 10, 2013
More information about the Poet: Campbell McGrath

Taking on the persona of someone famous is a tricky thing. I've seen persona done of Hades (far too many times) or (infamously too many times) Odysseus (all men dream of women like Persephone and/or Penelope).  Persona -- taking on the characteristics of a person, place or thing (let's say noun) within the poem.

A Persona can be a work of satire or parody.  But satire and parody taken too far is just plain ridiculous and the work itself can't be taken seriously.It's a hard line to cross (what's obscene these days); however, It's not the images that I feel go overboard, rather some literary techniques.

So, first, the poem takes on the persona of Hemingway.  The images in the first stanza are a bit over the top but go along with my perception of Hemingway -- a robust testosterone driven man, "I gnaw the scrawny heads from prawns."  At this point I'm okay with the sound of the poem.  The -wn is pretty good and creative.  There's a lot of strong verbs here as well like, "pummel" and "flatten" that develop the hypermasculine.

Then stanza 2 goes too overboard with the alliteration, "just watch me as I swagger and sprawl, / splice mad and sated" I wrote, "I find the alliteration and adjectives annoying -- maybe the poem tries to illicit the annoyance too hard here."  It's more of timing as well.'s such an annoying douchebag term.  Now, if the poem wants to show how ridiculous Hemingway's overly masculine is in text then it does a decent job in the first stanza, but the second --well, I don't know it's keeps going over the top.

"My stride as I stagger / shivers the islands, my fingers troll a thousand keys,"  I write in response to this, "this poem is a troll." Not in the good way.  Like how a twelve year old discovers the internet for the first time and makes a "funny" comment.  That sort of way.

"The force of my fiction makes the might Gulf Stream."  The end is pretty decent too.  It's overboad but fits the whole persona (my interpretation anyway) of Hemingway quite well; yet, "satire exposes a deeper core issue, jest is overall funny.  What does this expose?"


  1. In the last line, the word 'fiction' should read 'miction'.

    1. I laughed a lot longer and harder than I should over the word change.