I hear the dinner plates gossip
Mom collected to a hundred.
My friends say get on board,
but I'm not bored. Dad's a nap
lying by the fire. That's why
when radios broadcast news,
news broadcast from radios
gives air to my kinship, Dickey,
who says he'd go dead if ever
I discovered him to them.
I took care, then, the last time
bedrooms banged, to tape over
the outlets, swipe the prints
off DVDs, weep up the tea
stains where once was coffee.
Not one seep from him since.
Clangings' are specialized modes of speech schizophrenics and manics use to express themselves, and identify themselves, and communicate, so desperately and wittily and forlornly and with such resourceful energy. That's wonderfully registered here. But one gets to feel, reading it, that these diagnostically defined ways of using language are only extreme cases of how we all use language. Steven Cramer handles and contends with and profits from that extremely difficult, intensely compressed, stanzaic form, over and over, inventive all the way, hilarious a lot of the time, and scared, scary, distanced and objective, and very moving. Clangings is a wild ride.”
Humane from its aching heart to its flummoxed nether regions, whipsmart, formally acute but unfussy, and entertaining as all hellSteven Cramer's new book shreds our airwaves with an inventiveness that is rare. Rare, as in once-in-a-lifetime-if-you're-lucky rare. It balances perfectly on the knife-edge of improvisation and necessity. Clangings is magnificent.
Steven Cramer’s Clangings is a poetry not of madness, nor even the merely unspeakable, but instead irresistibly musical musings that reveal a command of language only achievable through fierce intelligence and the most piercing wit. A brilliant revision of the clinical term that describes speech that sacrifices sense to sound, here one finds that sound itselfTwo rhymes snagged between rhymes,/ spun puns, all my blinds up in flames./ The voices in noise are getting wise,” as Cramer writes, indeliblyis indeed sense. Poetry is healing here, the astonishing process itself laid out on these pages in all its utterly humane glory.
Rafael Campo, MD
Harvard Medical School, author of The Desire to Heal: A Doctor's Education in Empathy, Identity, and Poetry