Flawless poems may be rare, but they do spring to life sometimes, in the hands of a capable artist. Sher Ting's poem, "Hunger," is that kind of poem. Flawless in conception; smooth in execution, with a clarion resolution to a provocative theme. The poem is from December 22, 2021 and is posted at The Citron Review. Read it in full by clicking the picture above.
If it sounds like I'm gushing, that may well be, but reserve judgement a moment. The poem is virtually flawless from a technical point of view, but what are we to make of a flawless poem, in this throwaway age? Is it realistic to expect readers to notice, let alone appreciate such brilliant lines as:
How 饭 was the ivory harvest from fields of salt and rain,
ploughed to fruition through thunderclouds and a wrist of light.
You and I may soar at the assonance (and thematic concord) of "ivory" and "light" or the dactylic boom of "thunderclouds" in this otherwise pensive unrhymed couplet.
Even the poem's most explicit lines demand phone-less introspection:
Maybe that was what I was—wild rice,
the amalgamation of two entities,
A beautiful conception, particularly if you take the repetition of "was" as a plastic symbol for the "two entities" in question. This is linguistic alchemy. A High Order of logopoeia, melopoeia, and phanopoeia... So, we're making Ezra Pound happy.
But what's the overall impact of the poem. How does it hit?
Read the last two lines to find out. But, as I said, we're dealing with a true artist here, so the final lines of the poem open up new ideas, new potentials, new imaginings. Ting's alchemy is strong.
This is a flawless poem, but it might take a poet to see just how flawless. Which brings us back to my original question: how much of this (or any) poem goes unseen and how much needs to be seen?
I'd love to know your thoughts.
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