Poetry became my passion after I fell in love with Walter de la Mare's "Silver" in Mrs. Edna Pickett's sophomore English class circa 1962.
Introduction and Excerpt of "Talk"
Revealing disdain for her fellow human beings, especially men, the speaker in Borson's piece, "Talk," fabricates classifications that defy common logic but reveal an amateurish fascination with human psychology. This piece reads like the sad result of a women's studies crash course in bashing the male of the species!
This postmodern genre has blossomed for scribblers the ilk of Adrienne Rich, Carolyn Forché, Margaret Atwood, Eavan Bohland, and too many others. Borson remains one of the lesser known angry women, but her vitriol is nonetheless acerbic.
The shops, the streets are full of old men
who can't think of a thing to say anymore.
Sometimes, looking at a girl, it
almost occurs to them, but they can't make it out,
they go pawing toward it through the fog.
The young men are still jostling shoulders
as they walk along, tussling at one another with words.
They're excited by talk, they can still see the danger. . . .
The entire piece may be read at "Talk," Blue Sky Morning.
The speaker of this piece contrives four groups of people, then denigrates each group based on the act of talking. This kind of rhetorical flourish is called "straw man."
First Versagraph: Losing the Power of Speech
The speaker is an observer of social mores, reporting her conclusions using four groups of people and how they engage in the act of conversation. She begins with the group called "old men"; she reports that these old men who fill the streets are simply incapable of thinking of anything to say anymore. Perhaps because of dementia or simple exhaustion, these old fellows seem to have lost the power of speech as well as the power to think of something about which they could converse. However, when they see a girl, they are almost motivated to say something, but alas, the words never come to mind as they go "pawing" through the brain fog of their diminished capacity mind.
Second Versagraph: Razzing Replaces Words
The speaker then tackles her second group of "young men"; she professes as little respect for this group as she does her first group of old men. To her, these young men "walk along" haughty and boisterous as they go "tussling at one another with words." They are not actually communicating; they are merely razzing each other, probably engaging in a mental one-upmanship. The speaker claims that this group is excited by talk. Unlike the old men who cannot even think of anything to say anymore, these young men "can still see the danger" in their conversing, and it rouses them. The speaker allows the reader to fill in the exact nature of the "danger" they perceive.
Third Versagraph: Feministas Scope Their Victims
The speaker moves on to her third group, "old women." She exhibits her disdain for these old women by painting them as "haggl[ers] for oranges." She attempts a clever turn by claiming, "their mouths / take bites out of the air." This ugly image yields to the assertion that the old women, at least, know the value of oranges. The speaker then clips logic by asserting, "they had to learn everything / on their own." All the radical feministas will bristle with pride of recognition of woman-as-victim, as the attitude foreshadowed in the first two versagraphs begins to complete its shape.
Fourth Versagraph: The Incompetence of a Tacky Image
Then finally, the woman-as-victim rubric is complete as the speaker laments that of the four groups the "young women" have it the worst of all, because they have been taught nothing by their elders—that lack of education expressed a nobody as "bothered /to show them things," as if merely being shown stuff constitutes knowledge and understanding. Thus, these poor confused creatures put forth faces that resemble "little lakes before a storm."
Let's consider that image, "little lakes before a storm": Visualize what a face would look like if it, in fact, resembled a lake before a storm! Would not a lake before a storm likely be calm? Would it show confusion? There you have it: the incompetence of this tacky image. Must have sounded clever to the scribbler at the time, but it lacks anything resembling meaning.
Those young women are so stupid that they do not understand why they are sad, but the speaker knows they are sad—because of confusion. What exactly are they confused about? Well, your guess is as good as the next fellow's. The speaker then returns to the second group of young men, remarking that the confused sadness on the faces of the young women is good luck for the young men, who will be able to take advantage of these young ignorant females. The men will never understand the women, but they will be excited by the women's stupidity and have endless fun tinkering with them, until these young toughs become like the first group of old men, who cannot think of anything say, but vaguely remember buggering young girls through the fog in their brains.
Women's Studies Doggerel
This piece of doggerel reads like an exercise from a women's studies workshop focusing on poetry and the beleaguered female. Separating humankind into groups and assigning them positions that demean the female demographic has become the main mission of the current "Women's Movement," which unknowingly victimizes the very demographic that they bemoan as already victimized. This appalling piece merely continues that divisive perspective as it casts aspersions on each group it identifies.
Nothing about this piece can be taken as useful or helpful to humanity; it takes its place among those contrivances that threaten the reputation of the art of poetry. The feelings displayed in this piece are fake, contrived, and hollow, without a nod to the qualities that make poetry worth reading and life worth living—truth, beauty, love, simplicity, balance, harmony, insight, genuine sorrow, measured yearning, etc. A balanced melancholy would go a long way toward boosting the awareness and quality of this piece. Sadly, it remains without any poetic quality or shred of human dignity.
Roo Borson reading some of her pieces
© 2019 Linda Sue Grimes