Tuesday, April 17, 2007

National Poetry Month Recommendation: John Olson

How about another local? A close second to Russell Edson on my list of favorite prose poets is John Olson. He was once a Stranger Genius. (And probably still is, in their books...certainly is in mine.)

Here is a selection from a poem called "The Man Whose Eyes Clutched Cherubim," which appears in his book Free Stream Velocity:

...One is often confused by facial expression. It is vital to reveal eyes. All is eternal. Outside of our skulls the profusion of stars is an encore that churns above the steeples, repeating oblivion in waves of kelp and Florentine silks. Fossils and suns and fossil suns drop light in the rain during a perception of rubies. It is gratifying to paint a river. Puerto Rico cries out for lemons. Our chariots are pulled by clay hummingbirds whose throats obey the sepia of our convulsive sanctity. I have rubbed the hides of the buffalo until they slobbered like lightbulbs. Mustard laminates the meat. The traction of stars ingratiates infinity.

There it is, a torrent of images, odd juxtapositions. Bemusing in a small section like the one above. Confounding, even. But it accretes over a full poem, and becomes bright, shimmering beauty over an entire book. Love that John Olson.

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