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Humid Pitch: Narrative Poetry (Cheryl Clarke)

April 1, 2010

This collection was, as you can imagine, easier for me to follow (since it’s “narrative poetry” and therefore each poem or group of poems revolves around a defined plot with specific characters). I really enjoyed this collection, actually — especially the longest poem in it: “Epic of Song” (which is actually composed of 23 shorter poetic segments). I thought the characters in this poem were actually really complex, and that Star’s exploration of her sexuality was made all the more interesting because of the many factors playing into it — her relationship with Candy, who is at once her first female lover and her boss; her relationship with Evalena, who is her coworker and lover, but also her friend; her desire to succeed as a musician, which becomes more complicated once Candy dies — that illustrated the complexities of any relationship. I’m not sure I like how that is phrased, but I can’t think of a better way to say it, so there it is. Anyhow, I enjoyed the rest of the collection as well — not just the one poetic sequence. Clarke’s poetry seems most interested in exploring female relationships (sexual or otherwise). Her poems are not formatted according to any highly formal poetic style, but they flow smoothly and with a rhythm of their own. Well, since I’m so “bad” at reading poetry, I can’t think of much more to say about this collection despite the immense enjoyment it gave me and the interest I have in how Clarke is approaching her larger themes within this body of work.

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