Crush by Richard SIken

I don’t get it and I’m so confused.

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Richard Siken’s Crush, selected as the 2004 winner of the Yale Younger Poets prize, is a powerful collection of poems driven by obsession and love. Siken writes with ferocity, and his reader hurtles unstoppably with him. His poetry is confessional, gay, savage, and charged with violent eroticism. In the world of American poetry, Siken’s voice is striking. In her introduction to the book, competition judge Louise Glück hails the “cumulative, driving, apocalyptic power, [and] purgatorial recklessness” of Siken’s poems. She notes, “Books of this kind dream big. . . . They restore to poetry that sense of crucial moment and crucial utterance which may indeed be the great genius of the form.”

My thoughts


Usually, when I don’t understand poetry or other fiction, I know there’s a deeper meaning and I’m simply missing some connection that I need to completely understand it. Not with this book. The great goodreads ratings (4.3 average) tilts towards me being the one left out in this scenario, but I’m not sure everyone else is not just playing along (jk).

I get that it’s good poetry, somehow. It has a nice flow, and some phrases that paints very endearing and engaging pictures. I even like and understand some poems. But suddenly I don’t get how one part of a poem connects to the next? Or what it’s about, always? heeelp. The poems are mostly about love and obsession, as the synopsis says, along with being gay and crushing on guys. There’s also a “burn it all or die” feeling to some, where the promised apocalyptic theme comes in.

So, besides the all over the place feeling, the rows of rewritten lines all saying the same thing, angsty images of everything ending in bodies, death and twisted love, besides all that it has some beautiful moments. And I have to say I enjoyed a bit of the angst and death as well, it just flowed too much together and was repetitive in a way I can’t say I prefer. Maybe I will like it better the third time I read through? Hmm. He’s undoubtedly a brilliant writer and I think I’ll rather check out other of his collections to see if they fit me better.

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My favourite poems of this collection: scheherazade, little beast, unfinished duet, wishbone and you are jeff. There’s something in all of them I don’t understand, in “wishbone” that part is almost everything.


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