Original poem reprinted online here: "Landscape After Years With Yourself," West Texas by Shamala Gallagher
Originally read: January 25, 2013
More information about the Poet: Shamala Gallagher, and Youtube video
This poem to me is reminiscent of Gertrude Stein's style of repetition; however, I wouldn't put this poem squarely in the branch off of Gertrude Stein -- L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry. When I think of L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry I think of early Lyn Hejinian and Charles Bernstein whose works tried to deconstruct the purpose and limits of language. Of course, when times change so does meaning and poets.
Why do I bring up L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry in the first place. Well, I feel this poem is in conversation with the past ethos of the style. Well now I do actually.
Past me looked at how the language is used in the poem what words were used and how the word was used. For example, "heat" in the poem comes up six times in the poem -- four times "heat" is an adjective that describes the day, two times "heat" is a noun that describes a scene.
I go further on in this style throughout the poem; however, rereading this poem again, I cannot discount the "meaning" of this poem. Maybe that's a bad way to describe this...how about the direction.
The first thing I thought of after rereading this poem was the title, "Landscape after Years with Yourself, West Texas," that, from the speakers point of view, there's desolation in the same area. Or if this is an Ars Poetica based on L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry then it's hard to separate the content and the construction in the poem (well at least for me) when "want" is used in the poem.
The connotation between "want" and "heat" play too vital of a role. More so than the introduction of "cross" in the poem because already, with the title and the word play, I'm imagining a scene more than seeing the language the second time around.
And the scene is this -- left within the style/self for years without adaptation is basically a non-moving landscape portrait. Sure, people will see the novelty of a portrait, and maybe popularize and worship a portrait -- but a portrait (more or less) is a time capsule -- the self is not.
I see the language trying to push away or me as a reader resisting the language. And the last line of the poem, "wilting cross, the heat keeps on" was meaningless to me the first time (more interesting in the usage of language) but the second time the repetition of the "heat" and how it's used shows me a stagnation that continues.