Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Craig Morgan Teicher's Cradle Book Micro Review

I've been reading Craig Morgan Teicher's Cradle Book, and so far it's really enjoyable.  The author is married to the superb poet, Brenda Shaughnessy, so I learned just recently.  I know Shaughnessy's work better than Morgan Teicher's in truth, but I was curious about this little book of fables that are part poems, part little stories and now am interested to go back and read his other book, Brenda is in the Room, now that I know who he is referring to in the title.

I had no idea what to expect when I opened the book, and gradually discovered, I really like this little book.  I have a problem with fiction--I simply have no patience to read it and have no patience to write it.  If I do read it, I read it in one sitting at a rapid fire pace literally reading entire pages at one glance.  But the Cradle Book is perfect for me.  I can read these 1 to 2 page stories in a few minutes and then move onto another box of suprises.  These actually read like little prose poems.  The language isn't necessarily poetic, though.  Neither is the rhythm of the language.  I guess the frame of thinking, the philosophical mindset is clearly the mind of a poet, however.  Occasionally, especially toward the end of these pieces, some of the poet in Morgan Teicher did come out, though as in "The Virtue of Birds" which ends: "The clamor closed in like a gloved hand slowly tightening its fingers."  And the "The Line" which ends: "I will follow that line until there is no next thing."

The cover of the book says: "Stories & Fables" and fables are meant to make a moral point through animals, nature, etc.  Morgan Teicher has sort of modernized the fables and these have become more poetic and more sophisticated, as well as more modern and philosophical.  The lessons themselves are even more sophisticated.  In the end, I liked this book because it's a little different from the other work that I've been reading lately.  I also admired the author's desire and conviction to write what comes to him, versus creating some sort of packaged product that some publisher might like or some product that he knows the readers might be interested in.  Here are two poems I found online, but there are much more involved and interesting ones in the book.  Definitely worth picking up and reading.

The Wolves     
Wolves rule these woods. They have overthrown the old rulers, conquered all the creatures, and now these woods belong to them.  But do not be afraid if you pass this way. There is nothing here that can harm you, because, of course, the wolves are made of something less than air. Their bite is like a breeze. When they run a few leaves shake. Perhaps a flower bends when they howl. Pass through the woods whenever you like. What you have to fear is not in the woods.  

The Prisoner

I am telling the truth, though that is of little consequence to my captors. It is not the truth that they hope to force from my lips. And they will get what they want—certainly they will, for I can only endure so much, like anyone—but not yet. For now, I still have the will to withhold it from them.  First, I will make them abandon all dignity, pride and restraint as they torture me. By remaining silent, I will make them do the unthinkable, even if the price to pay is that I must suffer it.  For I have already told them the truth: that we are all capable of anything, any merciless act. They did not believe me. Once they prove I am right, I will tell them the lie they want to hear: that there are some things we will not do.

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