Too ok by Colin Herd
Poets, in their lucid intervals, look away from their sorrows and joys, over the many-coloured worlds of people, language, art and polity, and pertinently enough note what is happening there.
MediaWiki, the software which runs this blog, habitually capitalises the first word of any entry, this rendering the correct title of too ok by Colin Herd, as Too ok by Colin Herd. Apologies.
too ok by Colin Herd
Although the range of subjects poets may choose includes all knowable and unknowable things, the forms they adopt are usually restrictive. The result is that a fair amount of the poetry albeit in pamphlet, booklet and stapled structure, sticks to forms which obscure its content. Now this is ok, but not too ok, because it is via form that poets learn their trade, but more often than not I stop reading poetry mid-volume because the form is good and the content is not good, and this is not too ok, or is just ok at best. I had better not speak for you... but if you want to know what the difference is, then read too ok, by Colin Herd. It's both ok and too ok too.
Maybe the kings and queens of poetry (the list is short but we know who they are) maintain critical approval by displaying a mastery of form? Poetry is a fragile field likely because there is no money in it, and so the fact of critical approval is . . . well, critical. This is because critical approval informs other types of approval (prizes and grants) and even public approval (sales).
I read Robin Robertson's The Wrecking Light, and it’s my example. The Wrecking Light bored me as it felt to me like a display of form for people who understand these matters. In terms of content and feeling, I found The Wrecking Light to be lacking, but the fact that the Guardian said that 'it should win every prize going' was enough to place it on several prize lists (utter laziness I am afraid).
I am sorry, Colin Herd, for including my review of The Wrecking Light inside your review. That's a downer. But you have grasped the fact that content is as important as form, and maybe more important.
Form, appreciated, deconstructed and rebuilt. That's what I found in too ok. The simplest of these deconstructions is Herd's strange inclusion of a poem's title in its first line, such as in ‘i have dappled things’. Such a small thing, makes such a big difference.
There is too ok: Colin the shower in one case (shower unorthodox) or among his associates in several others (such as: you really are a first-class grump).
Perhaps these touches dissipate as the poet turns to translating Ovid. Form / Content = too ok.