In the Summer of Bowering, Geist blogger and Poetry Is Dead magazine Editor-in-Chief Daniel Zomparelli will be reviewing George Bowering's latest poetry collection, My Darling Nellie Grey. The collection is divided into twelve chapters, named for each month of the year, and Zomparelli will review one chapter a week all summer long.
In case you missed last week's post, here is a video of George Bowering reading from the January chapter of My Darling Nellie Grey.
Reading the February chapter of My Darling Nellie Grey made me think about how hard it is to be the less fun person in a relationship. Everyone gets excited when you walk through the door and asks, “where’s your partner?” Your blank stare shows that your partner is not with you, and soon everyone at the party is saying, “oh, it’s too bad your partner couldn’t make it.” This, I felt, was one of the underlying themes of the February chapter, which I loved.
Never have I been more moved by poems that continued to return to someone (George Bowering) being pantsed in the kitchen. And even with his pants down, Bowering maintained a loving tone. As someone who is being pantsed by my partner on a regular basis, the pantsing hit all the right chords. Having that fun and wild partner who balances out the quiet writer is something I know all too well.
The love theme in this chapter was a nice surprise that contrasted well with the chapter before. In the chapter January, the narrator is alone, in his thoughts, in his space, and in his writing. Writing is a solitary task, but Bowering moves to a gentler and comical tone in the chapter February. I was laughing, I was moved, and by the end of it, my pants had dropped as well.
Bowering generated the poems in the chapter February based off of his “wife’s comic acts in the kitchen.” To do so, he used minimalism, keeping the poems set as “two stanzas of short lines highly attentive to the sounds of vowels and consonants.” His attention to form allows some of the poems to hit like a punch line. The first poem had me in stitches. A simple, matter-of-fact tone and an epigram style make this poem spectacular. The musicality of the poetry makes the poems slippery, quick, much like the character Bowering is attempting to portray. Wonderful pieces to be read aloud.
One of the greatest things a writer writing in English can do is show how to fall in love using only the words of the English language. Yes, it is all a bit lovey dovey and mushy, but Bowering manages this in less than a month’s time (28 days) of poems, it is February after all.