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« January Poems [by Nin Andrews] | Main | Happy Birthday Mr. B. "I didn't train her, she trained me!" [by Stacey Harwood-Lehman] »

January 21, 2024

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"and

they are forgotten by all save those who loved them." Brian Turner has long been on e of my favorite contemporary poets, and this is such a powerful poem. It resonates particularly with me for family reasons. Thenks, Brian and Terence.

A very powerful poem using anaphora, a favorite poetic device of mine. And it will come in handy for a workshop I'm taking on "the list poem"—this is heartbreaking but inspirational. I love the diversity in styles and form of these Picks of the Week. Wonderful work, Brian, and thanks for sharing it, Terence.

I like that we can hear the incantation even from just the computer screen.

reading about the bodies is loving the bodies


Cindy---thanks for the comment.

as always Brian brings the observer's keen eye and the heart's pulsating desire to make sense of what should not be made sense of. A true warrior who writes out of love. Thanks Brian for the "love"

Tried to reply earlier

This poem devastated me in a great way—thanx

This is one of the best poems of grief I have ever read! Bravo to the very talented Brian Turner.

I've long admired Brian Turner. Thank you Terence for this selection. I'm gutted.


Stacey---Thanks for the comment. I agree completely.

but the spirit of the bodies lives in this poem.

PS TO MY EARLIER COMMENT: I TOO LOVE THE INCANTATORY FORM--WHAT A POTENT CHANT THIS POEM IS (SORRY MY COMPUTER IS STUCK IN ALL-CAPS MODE)

I, too, relish verse relying on the rhetorical figure of anaphora. The challenge, of course, is to use the repetition of words or phrases at the onset of the lines with a delicate balance of finishing the lines dissimilarly or, perhaps more difficultly, with an echoic effect that’s still distinct. That’s why Brian Turner’s “The Bodies” is a model of the anaphora poem. Its incantatory rhythms sweep the reader along without sacrificing discrete meanings. A pause to reread is a pause to re-savor or re-plumb the richness of what’s there. Turner holds the tension of each unfolding line like a master fisherman, knowing when to reel in or out, seeking stasis without stirring up silt. In this 25-line poem, the first 23 lines constitute single-line whole sentences. The only two-line sentence in the poem is the last two lines: “The bodies contemplate silence as they await the mortician, and / they are forgotten by all save those who loved them.” Despite being longer, that coda counteracts more abruptly and, with intention, more impersonally the previously invoked culture of direct care expressed in single-line sentences using such words and phrases as “lifted in someone’s arms,” “sacred,” “bathed,” “serenaded,” and “eulogized.” The trajectory from cause or site of death, to morgue, to embalming is a devolving, clinical descent into being “forgotten by all save those who loved them.” In-between are moving, shuffling, numbering, recording, and stamping, all ultimately leading to silence. Moving and masterful, “The Bodies” is a singular achievement.


Wow. Another brilliant comment. Thanks, Earle.

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly

Radio

I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark


from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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