Television seems a big influence in Joanna Fuhrman's work Pageant: 'The Vietnam War was trapped in the television /
the television broke like fireworks. The television exploded like
sprinklers'; 'The woman who denies the inevitability of television / is using
a bluejay for a cell phone.' There is even an ode to the telly:
Ode to Television
is like every night.
like a fog ...
It is obvious that the poet is influenced by the outside world, which is
filtered through her television screen. The global village is boxed down and
we are made aware that the poet is 'aware' of what is going on in her
televised world. These poems like to go big:
The 22nd Century
No one is sad.
No one knows the word sad.
The 21st century sleeps
hidden in its permeable shell.
Every mystery novel ends
with an opaque coffee stain
Every love story -
a missing tongue.
You see, I was only trying to understand
what America must feel like after all the boys
and girls have left the classroom,
And as big as these poems go they also like to demonstrate that they are
current and well connected: there are references to Andy Warhol, William
Carlos Williams, Li Po, Jimmy Hendrix, Marcel Duchamp, Eva Braun, Marx,
Frederick Douglas, Charlie Brown, Barbie, Lucy, and God. And - I'm using that
And again - all these names are set in a postmodern retroness which is quasi exotic and sometimes mundane:
from 3) did you hear that
My body floated in ether.
bloated and orange
like Tang floating
through a feeding tube
was happy then,
slightly neon, slightly
Pavlovian and damp.
And as big as these poems are; and as well connected and exotic as these
poems are, there also some real poetic gems:
You Who Are Full of Fear, Fear Not
The world kept urging me
to wear more orange -
do a little flaming hula dance,
cha cha cha and so on
It's kind of like
what they say
about the kind
leading the kind.
There' a track in every moving plan.
a culture of what?
a culture of the.
Why Are All the Elephants Crying
I am wrinkle-free,
Which isn't a problem
except for the clock bird
trapped in my curls
These poems are a mixture of the personal and impersonal. The personal is
much better. They feel more accurate in their delivery. When the poet opens
up to herself and strips away all that televised and assumed conditioning -
that is only to be expected from a post op baby boomer saturated in the
homogenised global pop/celeb culture that we all must succumb to. That when
the poet lifts the mask of intellectualism and fear of being seen as not
'right on man'- then we have the real poet.
© James McLaughlin 2010