Friday, September 24, 2010

The Elegance of Timothy Donnelly's The Cloud Corporation

I’ve been reading Timothy Donnelly’s The Cloud Corporation over the last couple weeks. What strikes me first about his work is its elegance. It’s a Wallace Stevens sort of elegance, an elegance and eloquence that is apparent both in its rhetoric and image. And in that, there’s a distance that is marked off from the subject that brings the poems again and again closer to the idea than the thing . . . the theory that lays itself over reality. It’s captivating, as thinking of, as Tony Hoagland calls it, the “skittery” poems of our time, these poems appear as, well, not skittery, even as they enact the sort of roaming mindset that one would think would manifest as skittery. It’s not a book to rush through. And, happily, I still have a section to go. It still gets to be new for a while. Nice. Here’s an example:

Timothy Donnelly

The comparison only went so far: the suffering
from which we had come to expect so much
remained mere suffering; the swamp due south

to which we had thought to compare it in our youth
stayed water choked in excess life, its voices
thoughtlessly forcing the same plump syllables

across the distance into windows furred with night.
But here in the room where we sit thinking that
if suffering had to enter our house, it should have

been the kind that sang, or else the kind from which
small shapes would zoom and circle the light
hanging in the middle of the room like a thought

whose fifteen petals open and whose opening we become
custodian to, here in the lotus of half-sleep, I am
beginning to forget where a comparison falls short.


At 9/24/2010 10:49 PM, Blogger JMH said...

I'm Jon from Chicago. I have this Post-it note, a remnant from being very drunk, that reads "the terror of poetry is reading it over and over without a reward." I would like to know if this sentiment is accurate, a la History Detectives on PBS.

Sorry for not introducing myself beforehand, Google Reader recommended you to me.

At 9/25/2010 12:59 PM, Blogger Amy Newman said...

I love this Timothy Donnelly poem; I remember loving some of his work in Harpers, maybe last year. Must get the book.

At 9/26/2010 8:40 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...


That could be said aboust most things in life. I've felt specifically that feeling while doing many home repairs.


It's very strong. I had it with me last week. I should have shown it to you.

At 9/28/2010 9:32 PM, Anonymous Mark Folse said...

Interesting: that's the same poem I thought best summed up what Donnelly was about in an email I just sent off to poetry book club list. It's an amazing work.

At 2/05/2011 2:22 PM, Blogger Charles said...

What a stunning book "The Cloud Corporation" is. I hope it gets the recognition it deserves.


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