12.15.2004

In “The White Man’s got a God Complex,” the binary numbering of the lines breaks – in a pleasant way – the changes that Herron rings on the “western koan,” “if a tree falls in the forest….” This reminds me… OK, even I’m getting tired of this tactic in this review. But, lets face it, I read “Rwanda” in the poem, and we’ve got some binary from the inFORMation age, used formally in a poem, and I’m reminded of one of the students who was at Columbia when I was, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda by Philip Gourevitch

While part of what has become the poetry of "witness" makes me cringe, the other traditional role of poetry, "prophecy," seems debased also. One of Herron's key strategies is to rewrite these debased rhetorics. Yet, this is poetry, not a mere rewriting, not a mere adoption of a rhetoric for effect. Herron's overall and specific purposes in the poem are "Complex."

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