Saturday, September 27, 2008

Richard Loranger, Mammal of Verse

When I first met Richard Loranger his book Poems for Teeth was just released. That the work, structured as celebrations of the teeth he’s lost and invocations of those he retains, hasn’t received the attention and admiration of a larger audience of readers seems like one of the greatest tragedies of contemporary verse. His is an eruptive poetry of lightness where being is lifted skyward by a parade of ardent words. In “I Want a Poetry,” which appears in Correspondence No. 1, he declares, “I want a poetry that runs off the page, across the wall, around the corner, onto the floor, leaps out the window and onto the street where it goes for a stroll, meets new friends, takes a wrong turn, and finds something shiny on the curb.” It’s what he desires and, I think, what he practices. His poetry is lively, epiphanic, and it embraces the unnamable slipperiness of what he would call the mammalian condition with vigorous compassion. Poems for Teeth is full of yelps, and stories, and songs, and awareness. Many lesser poets have or attempt Richard’s unbridled energy, but few possess the same exquisite formal ability that turns electricity into something diamond-shaped. For about three years, until he escaped Brooklyn for San Francisco, he was around to act as a sort of patron saint to our band of noisy, youthful poets. Time was when we held an obstreperous reading series at the Bethesda Angel at Central Park (illegal at least for the public drinking); Richard attended a few of those and oversaw them delightfully. His visitation resulted in the writing of a poem (which he insisted would include the use of a z in the plural form of kid⎯I thought he was joking until I saw it) that he gifted us with. Poems for Teeth is an important book for any reader of contemporary poetry (Richard wouldn’t like me using the word contemporary, I’m afraid), seven of his most recent pieces are found in Correspondence No. 1, and here’s the Angel thing:

October 5, 2006: Kidz These Days
by Richard Loranger

I dive into a whirligig of hair & teeth & minds
to trek toward an angel we call eye⎯
aye, eye not I, for we traverse light as a matter of kind,
arching archly toward the metamorph
the gleams a frank identity far more
apocalyptic than the dull drone of one,
drinking a joyous multitude⎯the midnight sky
gorging through a pupil of a moon

A bridge will suck all streets towards itself,
as do these kidz, frolic of the time
formidable & strong strange luminous
free from rank formality the infants need
crying in time the dull drone of one,
yet kidz not these, dodging nothing, no knowing,
not need nor knot that incubates the sky,
a multitude alchemical, a magic cry, an arch.

Here in Foreverland,
Saran Wrapped in the comic clock of I,
you, ewe, bleat a tiny woo of hence & heretofore,
resignedly await the final shear⎯
while on the angel pours a cataract of kidz
masticating all the world as loving siblings do,
feeding the angel’s eye as one anticipates the day,
heaving justly intermingling selves into the mind:
kidz frank, kidz alert, kidz in the kind.

Related Links:

Poems For Teeth on
Richard Loranger at We Press

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