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Some Ether: Poems by Nick Flynn

Some Ether: Poems

by Nick Flynn

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These are very sensitive subjects. It's like watching surgery. There were no surprises here. If you want life and death, it's here. If you want pain and suffering, it's here. Flynn's a fine poet. He writes beautifully, There are some great images. He has this really soft touch that just doesn't prepare me for his cuts - the drugs, the sex. It feels like watching accidents on the tv news. I like my poetry a little more analytical. I found about half these poems to be genuinely memorable images. The rest of them just made me wince.
  mobill76 | Apr 22, 2014 |
Deeply moving and harrowing. Absolutely beautiful. Darkness, suicide, trauma — this is the stuff of cliché. Somehow, amazingly, he avoids every false note and cheap excuse. A reviewer described it as, "lyrics of ringing clarity and strange precision." I'd also call it craft and profound talent. ( )
  abrahamhyatt | Apr 3, 2013 |
This is a stunning debut, a collection of beautiful and sometimes painful poems. The poet writes of his mother's suicide and his encounter with his homeless father while working in a shelter. The style is contemporary, and the material difficult, so it won't be to everyone's liking, but I think it's a fantastic work. ( )
  Laura400 | Aug 10, 2011 |
I went out on a limb and bought a book of poetry based on the goodreads star rating of someone I don't know who seemed to have decent taste in obscure literature. Plus, I am trying to make an effort to read living poets who write in English.

Of Flynn's first four poems, three were about suicide, two referenced guns, two referenced painkillers (by brand name) and one mentions cutting himself. It only got worse from there. Blah blah "my father is . . . a bottle wrapped in a paperbag" blah blah "shelters,/ shitsville" blah blah "I eat all her percodans, to know/ how far they can take me, because/ they are there." blah blah "she could whisper the wordburn/& I'd turn to ash.."Seriously?

This book strengthened all of the dismissive, prejudiced opinions that I hold about modern American poetry and how completely pathetic and unworth reading it is. This guy has been published all over the place and awarded several prizes. If I had just researched him enough to realize that he actually published a "memoir" called "Another Bullshit Night in Suck City" I would have suspected that he has no business writing poetry.

There is rarely a reason for his language not to be presented in paragraph form as bad prose. It is rarer for him to use italics effectively--though he seems to think they have a place in most of his poems. The language itself is thin. He is too busy seeking to legitimize his composed proximity to suffering and ruin by cheap association with narcotics, suicide, violence and alienation to actually attend to the sort of details and feelings that make poetry real. His love poems show this shortcoming particularly ("my tongue opened you &/ soft birds let loose their grip on the earth" "like whiskey his kiss like whiskey/ tear away at the skin"--he can't even write a good poem about a girl eating a peach.).

I only read the whole book because I had purchased it new, because it was short and because I wanted to have a solid foundation from which to offer criticism. However, on a note that will hardly balance this review, his first two epigrams were very well chosen and I enjoyed "Emptying Town" enough to make two friends read it (for the chuckle value of the closer--not for the unimportant first stanza or the melodramatic second) and "The cellar machine whirring through the night" seems to be about as good as he can write.

Avoid. ( )
  fieldnotes | Nov 11, 2008 |
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