Process and Parody, Reading and Writing

I read Linda Besner’s debut The Id Kid (Véhicule, 2011) because I can’t imagine writing like this, for the perfect title, and because the book brims with energy, craft and humour. I suspect that she’s a process poet, but it’s too soon to tell. In “Dogwalker’s Lawsuit,” a typically satiric Besner poem, she appears to be retelling a story from a daytime court show (although as a Judge Judy fan I don’t recognize it):

The Korean châtelaine who claims she never boffed

her former dogwalker (and blots her creamy affidavit

swearing theirs a chaste relationship)

is perjuring: if she didn’t, she should have,

as he’s robust, with coastal ponytail.

(p. 62)

A number of technical elements contribute to the fun here, in combination with the absurd material: the stately iambics of the opening line, the “l” and “b” consonance, the sudden shift to shorter lines, and the aptly surprising enjambment throughout.

More than the sophisticated technique, what I loved about this book was the sense of play, of willful disorder imposed on subject matter in a beautifully ordered way. One of the best examples is near the end of the slim volume, “Camping on the Border,” which consists of only four couplets that rhyme with two sounds across stanzas. The first and last stanzas remind me of a scene in No Direction Home where Dylan rearranges the words on some commercial signs in London; the same fey spirit is at work here:

The tent-peg lost, .

Lo, the tossed peg lent.

. . .

The lean hope kept, .

Lo, the keen hope leapt.

(p. 71)


Maurice Mierau’s last book, Fear Not, won the ReLit award for poetry in 2009. His recent work appeared in Arc and The Malahat Review. He edits The Winnipeg Review and the fiction imprint Enfield & Wizenty.