The chapbook stages a confrontation of epic pretensions between its hero, the poet, and a blandly personified Truth. The fluctuations of the protagonist’s mood are described but not really evoked–for the reader, the experience of the poem is rather unvaried. Much of it is characterized by a quasi-heightened tone, which is exemplified by Jenoff’s occasional indulgence in the antiquated practice of capitalizing significant words. Certainly there’s irony here, but it is not layered enough, or finely modulated enough, to be engaging.
Indeed, between vacant questions and feigned self-deprecation, the poem often seems aloof or, worse, smug:
At this point the Terrible Truth is taken aback. /Its advisors report /there are plenty of long lines coming /but no rhyming yet. /Can this be defiance? /From a poet?
There is a predictable quality in all this that undercuts the humour. There are no surprises and, as a result, insufficient momentum.
There are, of course, energetic moments. Truth Earring Microwave is at its best when it gets specific, exploring the particularities of language. Unfortunately, Jenoff seems content, for the most part, to skate along the surface of the poem. (Daniel Marrone)
chapbook, Marvyne Jenoff, $6.00, http://home.istar.ca/~mjenoff, Box 1415, Toronto, Ontario, M4P 3J7