Review by Cameron Conaway
by G.C. Waldrep
BOA Editions, LTD
250 N. Goodman Street, Suite 306
Rochester, NY 14607
2007, 99 pp., $16.00
Prior to beginning this review, I placed my computer and Disclamor on the patio table to begin writing. My cell phone rang. I ran in the house to grab it. I came back to the patio table to find a bird had shit all over G.C.’s book. It was warm and when I wiped it, it smeared. This is not a sign as most things I view in nature to be. G.C.’s Disclamor in no way resembles in shape or texture the black and white Pollock-like shit deposited on the cover. This goes for meaning too. In no way is Disclamor ‘shit.’ But I’ve never had a book of poems shit on, so it seemed worth mentioning. On to the review.
Most of the explorations of this book in prior reviews concern “The Batteries,” a sequence of poems from and about the gun emplacements in what formerly had been Forts Barry and Cronkhite overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. The series has won awards and seems to be the way this book is “pushed” but it was not where I felt Waldrep was at his best. At times throughout this book, word choice became overly “academic,” pulling away from the poem’s meaning. “Google” poetry doesn’t interest me a whole lot. I want to sit down, outside, without birds shitting on me, to read, enjoy, and engage with a book of poems. It became difficult for me to do because of an elevated diction that didn’t seem context-appropriate.
Conversely, when the diction fit the work, there were times where I was shook to my core with the beauty of Waldrep’s poetry. Associational leaps mix with meditative-declaratives to create a natural synergy that allows the speaker to be believable. From the poem “Cloud of Witnesses”: