Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Analysis of "Earlier" by Joanne Kyger

Original poem reprinted online here: "Earlier" by Joanne Kyger
Originally read: September 16, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Joanne Kyger


In the comments section for this poem, the first thing I read was "true story."  And I think the poem plays with idea with the idea of truth.  Note that this isn't necessarily a prose poem; rather, this poem plays with the idea of prose.

But the setting is set up first, "Into the party, with engraved invitations, I am bored when / I realize the champagne in the decrepit bowl is going to get / filled up a lot."  A never ending source of alcohol.causes boredom.  It's the action -- as though this happens far too often that comes up here.  So there's a juxtaposition between the spectacular being mundane.

"Well then, on the greens in front of the / Mansion are walking Tom Clark and Ted Berrigan, what chums!"  The cynicism with the "what chums" line is what gets me.  The speaker inserts herself into the scene through the authorial intrusion.  The actual names used brings a more personal feel to the poem.

"Do you think I could possibly fal in step, as they turn same / to far flung university on horizon, gleaming,  You bet your / life not."  The betrayal of the narrative.  The tone and the rhetorical questions refer back to how the speaker fits into this scene.  And then by addressing the reader, the narrative turn back to the reader as though to ask, "would you fit in?"

"The trouble, says Ted, with you Joanne, is that / you're note intelligent enough."  Observant, yes.  Intelligent, not shown in this poem.  Although referring back to the speaker and confirming that it is Joanne gives more power to Joanne than to Berrigan.  It's her observations, and it's her admitting the inability to fit in and the center of the poem.  The judgements of the reader and Berrigan seem but just a footnote.

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