Short Take on Lists, Adam Sol
Nicholas Papaxanthos’ short piece on Dean Young made me think of another user of lists, Don McKay. Young and McKay are very different poets, but they both have a tendency to “pile on.” As Papaxanthos observes, Young’s triplets are “purposely leaving something out,” to force us to make connections between seemingly disparate objects. McKay uses a similar technique for very different ends. First off, McKay’s lists are often more than three, and they tend to be phrases rather than individual nouns. And whereas the energy in Dean Young’s lists tends to be in their radical juxtaposition, McKay’s tend to be a sort of exploration, a feeling out of an idea. Here’s an example, referring to a walking stick: “Handhold-to-go, spare spine, / trail buddy, measure-minder, / prod.” Or here, from “Crinoid”: “A fossil, preposterous / and common, light / as a dime, as infinity’s / poker chip, a grey / Tylenol-sized disk you can slip into your pocket / or cup in your palm.” There’s plenty of invention, whimsy, and music, but it is more intimate, though perhaps a bit less radical. Reading Dean Young one has the pleasure of discovering new correspondences invented by a roving, original mind; reading Don McKay one has the pleasure of accompanying a roving companion as he discovers new correspondences alongside us.
(Both quotations are from Paradoxides, published by McClelland & Stewart in 2012.)
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