Po-Chop: Jennifer Kronovet: I Talk to Another More Than Myself

“I wield a dull knife / to my way of seeing: / the cloud-thoughts, not muscles, / feel the threat.”

 

Jennifer Kronovet’s poems from her prize-winning collection Awayward (Boa Editions, Ltd. 2009) are neatly carved sculptures, in which every single word exists for a reason—mainly to hone in on our somewhat strained relationship with language. Reading Kronovet’s collection is like holding up a shell to the ear: lines flow seamlessly and roar with movement.

 

Kronovet’s carving away at words is especially obvious in the poem “I Talk to Another More Than Myself.” In the above quoted lines, the lyrical “I” has to make due with the “dull knife” that is language in order to capture the always changing and fleeting “cloud-thoughts.” Kronovet could not have found a more apt metaphor to depict the complex process of putting into words what we observe. It is not the human body in its fixed and graspable shape—as depicted in the concise word “muscles”—that is affected by our lack of understanding, but rather the mind, which must travel along the border of language.

 

And yet, entering the space of Kronovet’s metaphors does not create a growing pessimism toward language, instead it imparts tension through the movement toward and away from words. There is no escaping language; seeing, thinking, speaking, and writing are all connected by a thin thread, like the horizon that threatens and offers perspective at the same time. While Kronovet’s poems are sculptures, interpretation remains a fluid process. She encourages readers to enter her poems like one would enter a museum; wandering and lingering among the artifacts of language are welcomed.

 

More Jennifer Kronovet:

Buy Kronovet at Boa Editions

Read the whole poem at the Poetry Society of America

New poems by Kronovet in Witness

 


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