Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Poetry affects each of us differently. Emily Bronte's tenebrous inner landscapes induce petrifaction while plath's 'Ariel' outpourings disquiet. Very rarely does one comes across poetry as metapoetry in its truest sense. Poems make statements about the way they're written but a poem that manages to be both wry and witty yet makes important statements about the way we live amalgamates craft and technique in seamless ways. Such a coalescence and soldering constitutes Ira Lightman's poetry.

Ira Lightman's poetry does with poetry what Henry James did with his prose. To stretch art , within linguistic pyrotechnics, into unforeseen directions. No poem of Ira Lightman ever has a big, unwieldy, gargantuan word. Yet words to his poems are like arabesques in a mosaic. Within the chiaroscuro of form and content and an archaic methodology constituting much contemporary poetry Ira Lightman dapples this daguerrotype with striations and daubed spots that kaleidoscopically transform both the poem as a narrative and the poem as a form. In a unique act of unintended subversion his poems are not really drawing attention to a bygone lyricism or contemporary postmodern divisiveness. Rather postmodern subjectivity is interwoven within the friable, frayed structure of a poem that spills out. A putative linguistic structuring seems ostensibly to contain but which actually in a series of agile, adroit trapeze leaps spills out and unleashes an effloroscence of delights both cerebral and emotive.

Lightman's poetry is oftentimes as symbiotically intimate with a reader as is one's image in a mirror. The poetry is impassive yet indeterminate because it has its own vision of itself which transmuted through the retina, transfigured through the cognitive synapses metamorphoses into the readers mind not just as a concatenation of artifices but an indisputable way of life. The poems are also forms that eschew reality's strict oppressive paradigms. The reader brings in his subjectivity and at the point of intersection where the gaze of the reader who has read and the reader who observes the reader who has read collide, meaning breaks forth, presuppositions rupture, comforting platitudes splinter. Irony is Ira Lightman's forte yet as a word unadulterated irony is an insufficient signifier. An irony laced with wit, merciless intelligence, relentlessly honest social gaze, verbal wordplay, collisional colluding of words, a sly complicity to old forms, a subterraneanous undermining of poetic conventions structurally adhered to all converge to make a heady cocktail of a very unselfconsciously self conscious creation of a new poetic epistemology which isn't predicated on a repudiation of other forms but a peregrination through their ideological portals and not so much a reconstruction but a reconstitution.

Speaking of spaceships one refers to the extrapolative quality intrinsic to Lightman's poetry. The poetry is both an appropriation and an expropriation. The contours of reality are slightly warped, imperceptibly altered, the quotidian grotesquerie, the latent absurdity underlying the commonplace realigns the representation of a reality which seems awry but requires a highly nuanced exegetical skill. Another aspect is Ira Lightman's highly evolved social consciences. The poems sneak up on you and an unwary, unwitting reader may, rapt in the contemplation of the form's cleverness completely overlook the excoriating social observations. Mr. Lightman is a poet's poet. . This review doesn't seek to excavate individual poems but rather attempts to concretize his evanescent poetic oeuvre, forever experimental and indeterminable, bespeaking a poet's perspicacity in challenging dogma, convention, established thought and the writing of poetry itself.