Kilbane’s poem, up recently at DIAGRAM, recalls one of poetry’s primary joys: memory and place enlivened by language’s occupation. Here it is, that library we know, made a bit more wild by the specificity of ‘pale maple carrel’; here it is, that in-carrel graffiti, silly, daydreamy, given BCE gravitas by Kilbane’s naming it ‘notched glyph.’ Similarly, the leading aspirates in ‘headphones honeycombs’ predict the happy thump-thump of where we’re headed—to speaker and Emma, the ‘wildly / readable annals of that.’
I take note of both the sparks and trouble made by this speaker’s choice to truck in hip diction variations. Moves like the cutting of prepositions (‘gives itself easy’), ending sentences with prepositions (‘quite / enough to see you by’), colloquialisms and trite phrasing (‘it requires zero / effort’; ‘I’ve got // to handle you [. . .] with oven mitts’), inversions (‘You // I have had sometimes’), and punning (‘It / coheres all right. Emma, be // co-here with me’) make for an experiential potpourri, a little halcyon time in the poem, but do not, finally, amount to much. A more apt title for the poem might be “That Her Acts of Pretty be Remembered”; moments after the poem’s loaned me a smile, I end up saying so what: we’ve got a trip back to Library Times, Heather + Tony 4E in tiny scrawl before me, a lover taking my study-hour thoughts (the Pound bit illuminates the in-and-out of this irruption beautifully, as does the cheeky ‘et al’) when I should be all scholar.
‘So what indeed,’ you might think—’if the poem’s goal is simply to chronicle its speaker’s simultaneous, rich floating away and being-there, no more is needed.’ Well, I can’t agree, though I see—see, and experience! That richness, I mean. But if this poet can make ‘[T]hready / thin tube sock of fall / light through library glass,’ I want him crafting fewer trousseaus, more gauged pinnate greaves. I wonder: where in this poem is the burning forge.