This one might go all fifteen rounds.
Baroness Elsa Hildegard Ploetz is so much a figure of study, as if she were simply a piece of lifestyle art. Short references to her will usually mention her participation in the literary scene of the 20s, her flamboyance, her arrests for her radically revealing fashion, then, somewhat sheepishly, they mention that she was an artist and poet. Yes, I am aware that I replicated that form in the last sentence. I'm glad to see that Green Integer
will be publishing a new selection of her work so that there will be more of her poetry in print.
GI put her poem "Subjoy Ride IV" on their new on-line component, Green Integer Review
. This poem has been tickling me all week.
Subjoy Ride IV
You can teach a saelect
seal packerparrot -rinso -
postum lister world-war
on saxo salve --
Try a veenotoic semi-
sofit of a stiff indigestion
Original sunshine makes
Do you know that made
from rich pure shaving
cream Jim Henry tired
Famous fain reduces
reg'’lar fellows to the
pancake apparel - kept
antiseptic with gold dust
Rapid transit --
It has raised 3 generations
There are two more of her poems
on their site.
This poem bursts with phonal and syntactical delight. The slurred speed of "You can teach a saelect/ seal packerparrot" butts directly into the halting trochaic sound of "rinso -– / postum lister world-war / on saxo salve—" And then the creepily yet humorously motherly moment of "Don't scratch!" bursts the linguistic materialism bubble by placing it directly into a recognizable physical event. Followed by the laxitivity of the end of that stanza.
The next stanza does a similar work in reverse, beginning in common syntax and devolving into nonsense, but this is a nonsense that enacts the tiring of the statement. The statement ends too soon. It falls off the cliff of the stanza break.
The third stanza is a bristling syntaztic construct in which the "famous fain" both "reduces" and "kept." The referent "it" in the next sentence grammatically must speak about the fain, but because the language of this stnaza pushes so far from referentiality, it also will not be the fain. The sound-play here is again sugar-sweet but given a harder edge by moving from the roll of Rs into the crackle of Ks. The last sentence (the only complete sentence of the poem, if you're looking for a sense of finality and closure) is simply exquisite. If you don't think so I will think you are someone who thinks things incorrectly about things such as, but not limited to, this last sentence of her poem.
It has raised 3 generations
I just wanted to type it again because it is so nice.
The danger for this poem, a lot of Dada poetry in general, is that it will come across as dusty, an experiment that is no longer necessary, Edison's lightbulb that used his own hair as the filament. But of course, language ain't no monkeywrench. Beyond the play and fracture and collage of this poem there is a poetic event that taps into advertising language, creepy maternalism and the public transportation nerve system of the city. This is not only a candied treat of sound and syntax.
Baroness is a crust-metal band that I saw in Richmond, VA last year opening for VCR
. Their show that night left me floored, an ever-escalating wall of noise and screaming that was somehow uplifting rather than pessimistic and brutal. For the sake of this posting I ask you to go to the sound section of their website
and download their song "Rise."
This is a pretty good song, squiggly doubled guitar lines. Open spaces that could sound like Tortoise. The buildup intro is a bit much to listen to on headphones, it seeks to thrill but does not quite thrill. Then a kind of southern-boogie/Unwound-esquerhythmg bass ryhthm kicks in. For the most part the song sounds like an indie-metal by numbers piece for the beginning. What I loved live was the unrelenting building of these songs. Instead it feels like they are keeping a close eye on each other to be sure they hit their changes in the studio. There is nice gutteral screaming, not too nu-metal, not too punky. It has structural tension and release, though that bass solo moment is terrible. The breakdown part that opens space for the screams about 2/3 of the way through the song is cool and I can listen to it really loud. It allows for the more pensive next movement that attempts to develop into a final climax, but it never forces me on board.
For the most part, however, this song is decent for its genre but fails to deliver anything that transcends the genre. It does not have the intenisty and emotion that I saw in their live show. This seems to be mostly an inability to translate the constant sonic development of their live show into the studio. While identicalnot identicle to such bands as Isis and Pelican, they could take a few production cues from either of those bands. I highly recommend that you see them live, but this recording may not thrill you.
So the winner in a clear knock out is Baroness Elsa Hildegard Ploetz. I predicted that this would be a tougher fight but she came on strong and never let up. Dada poetry defeats crust-core metal today, but don't worry fight-fans, I smell a rematch.