“Bird’s Eye View” by David Anthony (published in Volume IV Issue 1 of The New Formalist) seemed to me to be just a little contrived. I am sometimes willing to give more of a benefit of the doubt to formal poetry just because it is formal, which means that the author took at least enough time and thought in their creation to produce reasonable facsimiles of rhyme and meter. Free verse on the other hand, has only its content to catch me (unless we get into sound poetry, concrete poetry, performance poetry, slam, multi-media, etc. which we won’t). However, this poem fails. From the pointless interjection that absorbs most of the first and second lines, “(how could he know/the weight of all my cares)” not to mention the other one on line 7, “how I’ll dazzle them,” to the clich├ęs, “weight of all my cares,” “to and fro,” “unfurled its wings,” to the poorly chosen exclamation mark, this poem has little to recommend it.

Why then would I choose it from the galaxy of poetry available out there to include in my poetry analyses? These are supposed to be helping me improve, not devolve, right? There is a simple answer that is nevertheless profound, at least to me. This poem was published in an at least semi-respectable online poetry journal. What does that mean to me? It means that I need to quit hemming and hawing, and start submitting. Even if I can’t get published in POETRY or The Paris Review, I surely ought to be able to get something into The New Formalist or Triplopia, which is not to say that these are bad rags of the sort where my bad work might be accepted, nor is it to say that I have previously undervalued my work and have upgraded my assessment, it is simply to say why not give it a try. It’s only some 37 cents to give it a shot since most lit-zines prefer legal envelopes as opposed to manila. But anyway, to get back to the poem…

There are a few things that do work for me in this poem. I really like the image of the robin looking for worms “along the fresh cut line” (Line 5). This image gives a symbiotic feel to the relationship between the mower (person) and the robin. I love the line “The bird has his agenda; I have mine.” (Line 8). If these were the two ideas juxtaposed in the poem, I think it would be a success, but the whole “animal who thinks it is the center of the world, how silly–oh wait that’s me” theme has been done to death, and there is nothing new about it here.

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