Saturday, October 28, 2006

Reading BIdart's earlier poems collected in IN THE WESTERN NIGHT. In these poems, BIdart is as intense as he is now, but far less obscure. The first two books nakedly wrestle with Bidart's relationships to his parents. There are also extremely disturbing poems about insanity, the best of which is "The War of Vaslav Nijinsky," a dramatic monologue spoken by the early 20th century dancer and choreographer, as well as by his wife. Over 30 or so pages, it narrates his building awareness of his own insanity as it relates to his art, a subject that seems dear to BIdart. There is also the stunning "Confessional," an attempt at reconciling his anger at his deceased mother.

I find Bidart's intensity almost contagious. When I sit down to write after reading him, I feel crazed, almost out of control. Frightened of him and myself.

I love the newer books, especially "Stardust," but often find myself lost in the longer poems, which are usually tied to other texts. But, still, that palpable intensity remains. There is no poet like Bidart. The influence of Lowell is obvious, but no one has taken these things to quite the lengths Bidart has, even, perhaps Lowell (though Lowell's gruesomely confessional sonnets are probably more crazed, and destructive, than anything Bidart has done, or is likely to do).

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