Saturday, May 4, 2013

Metaphysical Dog - Frank Bidart

Today's book of poetry:  Metaphysical Dog.  Frank Bidart.  House of Anansi Press.  Toronto.

When Frank Bidart's most recent book, Metaphysical Dog, arrived I realized Bidart was someone I should recognize.  He won the Wallace Stevens Award as well as the 2007 Bollingen Prize for American Poetry.  It wasn't until I went to the shelves and found his In The Western Night, Collected Poems 1965-90 (Farras Straus Giroux, 1990), that I remembered his work.

Bidart might be best known for his meditative monologues, long poems like Ellen West and The War of Vaslav Nijinsky - but what I remembered was the explosive violence and dark horror of the macabre Herbert White.  A visceral poem of such gut punching power that I winced.  Bidart is precise and fearless, he has a resonating and dramatic voice that is constant

Metaphysical Dog might almost be considered more playful than Bidart's earlier work.  I'd suggest the poet has distilled his formidable skills.  There are still the dramatic monologues that delve into moral and philosophical dilemmas, but there is more of this:

For The Aids Dead

The plague you have thus far survived. They didn't.
Nothing that they did in bed that you didn't.

Writing a poem, I cleave to "you".  You
means I, one, you, as well as the you

inside you constantly, talk to.  Without
justice or logic, without

sense, you survived.  They didn't.
Nothing that they did in bed that you didn't.


Short, although not necessarily sweet.  Bidart says more with less more often in this volume.  Bidart is never shy about being emotive, showing emotion, but it never controls his voice.

Metaphysical Dog is a little deeper pool than most books of poetry offer.  Worth every moment.

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