Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Normal Paranormal Goes Mainstream

In the science fiction double issue of the New Yorker, we are surprised and delighted to find poems that are science-fictional not in subject but in style, in their approach to the "real" world.  Is this proof that the current poetic trend towards the Normal Paranormal has gone mainstream?  And, if so, do Kay Ryan's "The Octopus" & Charles Simic's "Driving Around" engage this trend on their own, or only when the poems are read in a science-fictional context?  And isn't that what we've been doing lately?  Stay tuned for more on the subject in the coming weeks.

The Octopus
     Kay Ryan

The octopus has
eight of something.
If they're legs then
all the arms are
missing.  Nature often
makes mistakes in
distribution.  You'd
think it would be
more distressing.  Too
many rubber legs with
suckers, too many sets
of teeth on top of each other:
some button in the
shop stuck on or off.
Sometimes a brain-feed
sticks until the brain
that gets delivered has
a hundred times the
strength it needs in
nature.  Which changes
nature.  A hundred
other creatures
gang together in a chain
of mutual interest
they wouldn't have perceived
without the strange intelligence.
     (74)


Driving Around
     Charles Simic

And then there is our Main Street
that looks like
an abandoned movie set
whose director
ran out of money and ideas,
firing at a moment's notice
his entire filming crew,
and the pretty young actress
dressed for the part
standing with a pinched smile
in the dusty window
of Miss Emma's bridal shop.
     (108)