Friday, January 9, 2015

Analysis of "The New Dentist" by Jaimee Kuperman

Poem found here: "The New Dentist" by Jaimee Kuperman


Internal monologue.  It's what people do when they drive alone in their cars, or at least when that is what I do.  This poem encapsulates those thoughts.  But here's the context, even though the poem is entitled "The New Dentist" -- the focus is on the concept of "new" and not so much the dentist part.

"Driving to the new dentist's office / the slow drive of a new place / with the McDonalds that I don't go to"  The lines are very narrative, and very train of thought.  These lines are set up lines, but the only thing here is that the "McDonalds that I don't go to" feels more of a time frame set-up and then place with, "on the left, the mall two miles away."

With more of the focus on the place there's this interesting line, "The Courthouse and the Old Courthouse" -- two paths diverged.  "road signs that break apart, the fork in the road / that looks nothing like a fork or a spoon"  The cliche of the two paths is twisted a bit when the speaker goes on a divergent thought, the looks of the fork of the road, "in fact / at best, maybe a knife bent in a dishwasher / that leans to one side."  I could go either way with these lines -- a bit too cute or a there could be something more.  Currently, I think the lines a re a bit too cute since the cliche before is a little to heavy handed and the divergence is a little bit telegraphed, but then the poem goes back to the dentist.

The poem goes into run on as the mind continually races:

     [...]And I know the dentist
     will ask about my last visit and want to know
     in months that I can't say some time ago
     and I know he will ask me about flossing
     and saying when I'm in the mood won't be
     the appropriate answer.

The change here is that the speaker is already predicting what the dentist will say and premeditating the response.  In doing so the rumination monologue is gone and replaced with a dialogue with the speaker having to defend her beliefs and routines.

     I brush my teeth before going in.
     It's like cleaning before the cleaning person
     but I don't want him to know I keep an untidy
     mouth.

For me, these lines border on the cute or something more.  This time I'm feeling there's something more here since this is more of the reasoning why the speaker feels she needs to premeditate a response or defend herself -- the untidy mouth coyly plays with the idea of something more: untidy mind, untidy room, untidy life.  But I can see how this could be too cute as well because of the previous line -- the poem does play with this technique.

The last lines seems to be more exposition to the speaker, "That I am the type of person who shoves/ things in the closet before guests arrive."  I'm not sure if this is needed.  "Untidy" is such a strong adjective to end with, but I do understand the need to point to the deeper meaning with shoving things away.  Just my way of looking at the poem today I suppose.

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