Guest poem submitted by Sameer Siruguri:
(Poem #1063) Named
He'd spent his life trying to control the names people gave him; oh the unfair and the accurate equally hurt. Just recently he'd been a son-of-a-bitch and sweetheart in the same day, and once again knew what antonyms love and control are, and how comforting it must be to have a business card - Manager, Specialist - and believe what it says. Who, in fact, didn't want his most useful name to enter with him, when he entered a room, who didn't want to be that kind of lie? A man who was a sweetheart and a son-of-a-bitch was also more or less every name he'd ever been called, and when you die, he thought, that's when it happens, you're collected forever into a few small words. But never to have been outrageous or exquisite, no grand mistake so utterly yours it causes whispers in the peripheries of your presence - that was his fear. "Reckless"; he wouldn't object to such a name if it came from the right voice with the right amount of reverence. Someone nearby, of course, certain to add "fool."
I heard about Dunn through a friend and searched the Internet for some represenative poetry. I found two pieces, this and http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~richie/poetry/html/auth125.html and though the latter is definitely the better poem, this had some neat phrases ("whispers in the peripheries of your presence") that I liked more. I analysed this poem by removing the spacing and making a paragraph out of it. The abrupt breaks that verse-form allows ("oh the unfair and the accurate...") get laid out in starker relief that way and you wonder what value came out of calling this poetry, except the license to insert those choppy sentences. Or was the power of the important lines ("you've collected forever into a few small words") only apparent because I had seen it the proper format first? Still, Dunn's never been submitted to Minstrels and the writing is good enough that this merits as an unfair omission. The poem's quiet anguish for a sense of proper identity is a very fashionable question, especially in America, which is Dunn's provenance. I itch to dismiss this sentiment as trite but Dunn's artful arrangement of words stays my tongue. Sam.