Investment,” by Scott Topper, begins in the middle of an apparently one-sided conversation, possibly a photographer speaking to a model. What really interested me about it was the strikingly audible feel that the short sentence fragments, and the running together of seemingly non-related subjects (that is to say subjects requiring context to understand their connectivity) gave to it. It has a conversational tone, not in the sense that it seems to speak to the reader, for I definitely couldn’t place myself as the you of the poem, but in that it feels, more than almost any poem I have read, like spoken English. Usually when a poem is composed almost entirely of sentence fragments and run-ons, it just feels like a lack of craft, but in this poem, it feels just the opposite, highly crafted. Even most poems that attempt to be conversational still read like written, rather than spoken, English. I think it would be a great challenge to get that feeling of “being there” that the well-produced spoken (barked even) dialect gives.

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