Apostrophes II: Through You I


80 pages
ISBN 0-88864-304-7
DDC C811'.54




Reviewed by James Deahl

James Deahl, of Mekler & Deahl Publishers, is the author of Poetry
Markets for Canadians, Under the Watchful Eye: Poetry and Discourse,
Even This Land Was Born of Light, and Mix Six.


The problem with the new formalism is a lack of nerve. To succeed at
something new and different, one must be prepared to be bold, to hold
nothing back. Almost no one writing formal verse today goes far enough.
In the second volume of his Apostrophes series, Blodgett shows that he
has the courage to go way out on a limb when his poetics demands it.
This is both good news and bad.

The good news is that Apostrophes II contains the finest verse I’ve
read in a long time. In terms of technical excellence and intellectual
excitement, I was reminded throughout of Eliot. The bad news is that in
his drive to go far enough, Blodgett goes too far. In each poem, he
falls from his limb into a hopelessly extended literary conceit that
would have made Marvell blush. In each poem, he also falls into at least
one entangled philosophical abstraction that takes the reader away from,
rather than deeper into, the poem. More’s the pity, because every poem
stopped me cold with passages of such beauty that I simply had to reread
them again and again.

Apostrophes II is at once a series of love poems and an exposition of
Romantic philosophy within a postmodern setting. As a volume of love
poetry, this book recalls the committed tenderness of the best sonnets
of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. With respect to the poet’s overt
philosophical speculations, the mixture of Romantic and postmodern
world-views challenges the reader (Blodgett’s failure to stick to the
concrete notwithstanding). Apostrophes: Woman at a Piano, won the 1996
Governor General’s Literary Award for poetry. Despite the reckless
conceits and abstractions, Apostrophes II surpasses that book in terms
of poetics, focused content, and emotional feeling.


Blodgett, E.D., “Apostrophes II: Through You I,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 20, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/2951.