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Poets in New York, 2 of 6

By Forrest Gander

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City of Corners, Wave Books, 2008
Working as a Registered Nurse in an infectious disease clinic in Brooklyn, John Godfrey has steadily published books of poems (and sometimes, as in the case of Push the Mule, prose) characterized by an exuberant attention to language and to the emotional surges & ebbs of urban relationships.


His syntax, at once lightning fast and completely casual (like Patriots receiver Randy Moss), runs slant patterns across convention. He incorporates vernacular, he blows fuses on clichés, and he scalpels away bookkeeping words (as Pound called them) to jump-cut high energy, emotive phrasings. Blink and you miss it in Godfrey. Any poem of his is a “City of Corners” where mercurial perceptions, brilliantly parsed by lineation (the turned corner), reveal a world whose meanings shift on hairline cracks:
You walk toward me
No you don’t
Had me fooled
He is funny and moving, yes. The clarity of feeling in his work is rare. After reading him for awhile, you come to think, as Godfrey writes in one of the new poems in City of Corners
, that “Everything else/ is inattention.”


Posted in Uncategorized on Saturday, October 11th, 2008 by Forrest Gander.