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Response to The Relative Minor of Deanna Ferguson

At this wonderful non-commercial poetry site called Ubu editions [pointed out by rob mclennan] there are pdfs of works that made ripples through poetry world, that are outstanding in their subset of modern styles that should be more widely read.

One of the links is to to The Relative Minor a book of 83 pages of poetry by Deanna Ferguson who is said to “manages the turn from the personal to the civic that is a hallmark of Kootenay School writing”.

I like that I have no idea what she’s talking about or what to do with it when I first see something. It gives me a headache and it prevents my scanning on from jist to jist.

I am forced to take my time in her use of word with ambiguous reading for meaning like tear in Cut Opinions

>cut opinions tear tasteful
>hungers huge ground swell
>partisan have-not thought
>green opinions hidden slide
>hub from sprung in
>weather yah
>bold erect tender
>perfect term transparent till
>I two minute topless formed
>A necessarily sorry sloppy strands
>hot opinions oh like an apple
>a lie, a liar kick back
>filial oh well hybrid opinions happen
>not stopped

I like her flit thru registers of talking about class thought which is relatively complex and then throw in “yah”. Folksy and formal against each other with non-standard grammar and “quiet-like” and (later) muskeg that aren’t usually permitted in poetry except to be placed in someone’s mouth as a quaint voice is brought to sit with hydrant or tyrant as equals in validity and same person.

>father was off, sent some notes though
>“go back and kill moose”
>he writ me, I didn’t writ him.
>snide hose slid under her seat quiet-like
>public made the ebb, and she rose, hydrant
>or tyrant Ascension.

It looks at history but not in archival language. The stories are historical but phrasing and laying on the page and parsing is all modern. She seems to swoon through her sounds

>chemistry pioneered the lured call
>of lavish not slavish
>smoothing out the appearance of lines from
>the moment optical diffuses
>focus features an invisible jewel, bringing to secret
>its remove from a cellophane-threaded stain

It builds a momentum but breaks itself deliberately with “wrong” parts of speech or unexpected turns of words.

>Skip Town
>function emulation does / as if a TV could grow / atop another, shearing / strain occurs body / subjected to shear stress /change of shape we /
yipped and whooped / for an alabaster rupture / at least to intervene / involuntarily I read / or sing along

I like also how the female isn’t exclusively present and isn’t invisible. There’s a politicalness without a preachiness. It gets an algabraic sort of net effect. a + b + c = 17. How did it get to 17? One has to go back and find out how she got that whole from those pieces.

>Only biography. Face as close (memory)
>An incident in the park called.
>Epoxy Police. Kid on the swing yells
>Ronnie scribbles, Ronnie enters a world
>embarrassed. The woman with glue left,
>indifferent to, and, doesn’t smoke, got away
>so to speak. Not a loose transcription but languaged
>events. The end pulled through and the distance
>allows telling. This not the business of telling
>but the ever expanding entering the world (middle).

Poetry response from this point to that:

funereal relief relives

kids pulls sticks from dad’s
jenga arguments just listen
both sturdy excuses said so
understanding fades in dye
sofa
no good not what they picked
dad by seat of pants,
discipline hope he hopes
lopes years as superman
can’t girl boy see he
ro
hard row to hoe
merrily verily say unto hymn
do church as I did
it is what I do
your age is stage not decade
steam palm drawn cotton
pickin minute mockery
marquetry of word
unmarked heard going faster
than light speed
in old rage they see father each

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