Sylvia Legris’s Nerve Squall

The cover of Nerve Squall, a collection of poems by Sylvia Legris, is a clutter and collage of images, somewhat ordered, somewhat allusive. Coach House Books  continues to feature the 2006 Griffin Prize winner on their website.

While reading Nerve Squall, I keep hoping that the poems will settle-in to something more than the frenetic, nervy collage that the title and the cover suggest.  Somehow the collection never does and I find myself only periodically engaged  before distractions take hold.  Some distractions are within the poetry and some are outside.  The result is that I never really settle in to read this poetry that never really settles-in to communicate.  If the purpose here is to create a distracted and twitchy experience, the book succeeds.

There are several interesting images and moments in the book; somehow, I am always too distracted to take the requisite time to memorize or copy them out for future re-consideration.  I know there are plenty of birds and fish.  It seems to be enough for me to recall – the fishiness, the fowl presence.

As a study in exploratory poetics, I don’t argue with Nerve Squall.  There is plenty of evidence that Legris worked hard on the book and it shows a great deal of thought.  Legris succeeds in creating an effect.  This poetry cannot leave you indifferent.

I don’t look for twitchiness in poetry;  while  I  enjoy the commitment to an extended theme.  I don’t want my experience of poetry to be “distraction”.  What I have learned from Nerve Squall, and indeed what I have learned several times while reading poetry is that poetry, despite great thought and consideration, may render itself un-interesting to many readers.




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