May 28, 2009

Review: I Think You Might Be a Genius by Quinn Collard

I Think You Might Be a Genius by Quinn Collard, 2009. 36pp, $8.00 (also available as an ebook for $5.00).

I Think You Might Be a Genius is Quinn Collard's third collection of poems, and shows further development in her progress as a writer. While not an absolutely perfect collection, it is certainly Collard's best work so far, and represents a new level of artistry. What stands out to me most is that this is the collection with lines which made me pause, think, and reread because of their beauty and power.

This collection has a particularly strong beginning. The fifth poem, "45th Street, Wallingford," has a line I love because it can be taken two ways:

Debating the relative merits
Of charming and calm
Versus the buzzing hive of activity
Our little honeycomb of an apartment is in the middle of now.

On my first reading, I read the last line of that passage incorrectly. But it was exactly that mistake which made me fall in love with it. Rather than reading it as a logical extension of the line before it (as in, their apartment is in the middle of a buzzing hive of activity), I saw it as completely self-contained. "Our apartment is in the middle of now." Their home is present in the moment; it exists in the here and now. I thought it was beautiful to think of a home simply being present.

The poem "Home" also caused me to stop with the third line: "There are parts of me everywhere and nowhere at once." As someone roughly Collard's age, who also relocated about a year ago, who still does not feel quite at home in her environment, this poem stopped me early on because of the way it related to my own experience. Someone who I have never met in person is nonetheless able to articulate how I feel with startling accuracy - that is the mark of strong poetry.

While an overall strong collection, I will say that this chapbook becomes a bit weak in the middle, with Collard beginning to rely on tired, overused images and phrases as well as oversimplification. She has an eye for detail, but does not apply it consistently.

But despite a less-satisfactory middle, Collard's closing poems are also excellent. When I read the final poem, "Pepper," I was sad that I had come to the end of the book. Yes, I can just go and re-read as much of it as I want. But despite that, I was still bummed to realize that my first experience with this collection was over.

1 comment:

Dave King said...

Sounds like a great read, and a very unusual one at that. Thanks for the post.