I found “Chaser” in an independent bookstore downtown, on a cart of books that were on sale for one or two dollars. It was the cover that originally drew me to the collection, but after reading what the poems were about I was determined I wanted the book. I’m a lover of the more scientifically-oriented poems, albeit ones that aren’t too heavy on the actual terminology. Pair that with a lovely cover and the promise of exploring illness in humanity and you’ve got one very promising collection.
My final verdict on these poems, after finishing, depends more on the state of mind I was in while reading as opposed to the actual poems themselves. Thus I think a 3.5 is a more just reflection of my reaction them.
Overall I enjoyed what I read. I liked the repetitive travel motif and how the reader’s attention was always drawn to lab-like procedures that seemed to describe experiments or thesis. It’s the kind of writing I enjoy, especially in poetry, when it is so tightly knit and carefully crafted. There were some very wonderful poems worth singling out as well, “The Tulipomania” being one of them, as an earlier reviewer mentioned. Some others include the second poem “The Travelogue of an Amorous Consumptive” and “Its Famous Blue Coat”, each of the mentioned poems coming from a different section. There was something especially mystifying in each of them that made them memorable, whether it was the way Knight drew attention to setting in The Travelogue, or the way imagery and blue swirled together in a way that transcended the straightforward identity of objects in Blue Coat.
My only issue with these poems was that sometimes I felt like I lost the train of thought going through the poet’s mind. I would be concentrated on the writing and following along until suddenly there was a spot where I could sense I was beginning to read the poem on the surface, without having the words soak in and leave emotional impact. Sometimes it got a bit confusing with the economic or scientific portion of the writing in terms of where the poem’s idea was going, although, as mentioned, the fact that there wasn’t an overload of terms was a plus for me in this collection. As a result I think the matter is simply that not all the poems can be readily absorbed as the three I mentioned, rather requiring time and patience in order for the reader to acquire a kind of taste for them.
I enjoyed the poems and felt they held true to the summary on the back cover. It was more a case of going in too fast for the first time. I’ll gladly revisit these poems in both the near and far future because there were some splendid ideas in them and very strong imagery that created a reading experience with a spacial level for me.