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.