Today’s poem on VerseDaily

In looking for things to post about, today I decided to check VerseDaily (which I really should just make a habit of–they always have great pieces.)  Today’s poem of the day, which I included below, is called “Human Atlas” by Marianne Boruch (WordPress did not preserve her spacing when I tried to copy/paste the text into this post, so check out the poem at http://versedaily.com/.)  Although I am not familiar with her work, after reading this piece I’d definitely like to read more of her.

To start, I love the way she opens with “Because”.  I haven’t seen this done before and it’s a great way to launch your reader into the poem (note to self: try this!)  Something else that struck me is that she seems to pull off using a lot of body vernacular in the first stanza.  It seems like the use of vernacular is something we’ve struggled with as a class–trying to figure out how much is enough/too much–and although we are inundated with words used to describe bones, skin and bodies in general, it never feels like too much.  I also love the way the first stanza effectively uses commas to create pause and rhythm, but don’t halt the movement of the stanza.   The end of the first stanza is sassy in a way, with the line break followed by white space before the phrase “none of that.”

The first stanza of this piece really set up the rest of the poem for me, and begged for me to keep on reading.  As the piece goes on it almost reaches a “thesis” of sorts that can be backed up by the powerfully graphic images of the body.  “Complete, because / the whole body ends, remember?”  Reading over the piece again, I love that there’s not an immediate sound detail with “complete” and “compute,” but that there are a couple lines in between these two words; it made me feel like I should go back and enjoy the piece again.  Finally, ending on the idea of layers also leaves a reader with the conclusion that they should go back through to look at the poem again and what it has to say about bodies/the completion of bodies.

One Reply to “Today’s poem on VerseDaily”

  1. I went and read this poem, and definitely felt the same about the strength of the body imagery that was present. I myself never really use body imagery, and a lot of Boruch’s stood out to me- particularly “arsenal/of glands.” I’ve never seen something so militaristic used to describe the body, and it is very effective. I thought your analysis of the poem pointed out a lot more than I noticed, as well! The one thing that confused me about this poem was the words set to the right. Were they trying to state the central ideas of what this poem was touching upon, or were they something else?

    I also found the ending quite striking, especially the sound of “the any of us, our precious/everything we ever”, and it reminded me of when you mentioned “compete” and “compute” being similar. While the part I typed does not really seem similar, when I read it out loud, something about it made it seem relatively the same.

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