Monday, March 23, 2009


I can be somewhat finicky about poems that depend on some form of the conceit "Suddenly, I saw ..." (though I'm sure I've used the conceit myself—it is quite seductive, after all). The workshopper in me often just crosses stuff like that out mentally and goes on!

Yet I liked this variant form of the conceit in the first stanza of Mark Wunderlich's "Waumandee" in the March 2009 issue of Poetry:

A man with binoculars
fixed a shape in the field
and we stopped and saw

What the "I suddenly saw" conceit needs is something more to make it more than just a generative moment that need not be present in the final version of a poem. Wunderlich's "more" is that what "we saw" was someone else seeing something, which creates a triangle of gazes: we see him seeing something, so then we see the thing he sees (in this case, an "albino buck").

But maybe it's just that I'm a sucker for geometry.

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