You Can’t Feel Love If Your Heart Isn’t Home

This chapbook is a co-published by Capers Aweigh and Necessary Press and is dedicated to Cape Bretoners. In the introduction to the chapbook, written by John MacNeil, Kennedy’s poetry is described as being animated by an acute sense of how men and women are slavishly following the dictates of power in order to succeed, and Kennedy’s poetry reflects a counter-cultural stance which rejects the norms of Church and State in this process. Indeed there is much good sentiment and critical awareness in his poetry, which is an honest reflection of a mind that has deeply grappled with the effects of power and oppression in our late-twentieth century mess. That being said though, I’m always suspicious, or rather vaguely indifferent to poetry which can say it all, or which seems to claim to say it all; or poems that claim clarity and which lack a certain sense of doubleness or irony, or a magical, irreverent or unorthodox use of words, images or form. The fact that Kennedy takes great pains to produce the most neat forms of end rhymes consistently in poem after poem, only serves, I think, to prove my point. Take these lines from the title poem, “Decipher,””I say what I think / Don’t hide behind my words / No extra meanings here /That would be absurd / Writing’s on the wall / Don’t read between the lines / It’s all in black and white / All within my mind.” Indeed. In one fell swoop Kennedy has managed to reduce to rubble the complexity of language and image in being able to reflect diverse readers’ experiences within poetry. Haven’t we heard enough about authoritative meanings and intentions? Holding Kennedy’s poems in your hand is a little like holding a perfectly produced, shiny, metallic ball with the purest sheen, grace and predictability. Personally, I like poetry that is more skewed, without being pretentious, poetry that is difficult to consume or that takes risks and that doesn’t slavishly follow some overriding concern for perfect form. (Give me the Beats any day). But perhaps these are small concerns. This is not to say that Kennedy’s poetry isn’t any good, there are some fine ones in here, like, “If This is Crazy,” a meditation on sanity/insanity which questions rigid boundaries; or several poems protesting war and our Western culture’s love of violence. But, unfortunately, you have to sift through some pretty banal stuff to get to the interesting stuff, hidden within.

chap book, 68 pages / $ 8 / main creator: Michael F. Kennedy / Capers Aweigh Small Press, P.O. Box 96 Sydney, Cape Breton Island, B1P 6G9


Comments (0) | More News

Leave a Reply