The photo above is Saint Chapelle in Paris.

Here is a review of Postscript by Philip McGowan, and by disclosure I do not know and have never heard of the poet, and know nothing of the person or history. I commented on Twitter on the poem when someone posted a copy and was asked to elaborate my comment. I avoid commenting on poems as much as possible, but now and then I jump into the fray knowing full well no one will agree with me at all. No one has yet. To each their own, and poetry is personal, and on and on with whatever anyone writes is poetry, and everyone is a poet, and so forth, is the response I have received from any review I've written. I am not certain poetry critique exists anymore, since political correctness rules. All concepts today in poetry are made to be "inclusive," meaning that criticism is not acceptable. Everyone gets a gold star and a trophy. The goal in poetry these days seems to be to reduce creativity and originality to a minimum. I apologize for any sarcasm. And so, for example, prose is now poetry when at one time prose was prose. Poetry is too hard to write.


Postscript by Philip McGowan


And some time make the time to drive out west

into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,

In September or October, when the wind

And the light are working off each other

so that the ocean on one side is wild

with foam and glitter, and inland among stones

the surface of a slate-grey lake is lit

by the earthed lightning of a flock of swans,

their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white,

their fully grown headstrong-looking heads

tucked or cresting or busy underwater.

Useless to think you'll park and capture it

more thoroughly. You are neither here nor there,

a hurry through which known and strange things pass

as big soft buffetings come at the car sideways

and catch the heart off guard and blow it open.


And some time make the time to drive out west

            The first line is as irritating as possible. The talky invitation to "drive out west", an infernal phrase, cheap and summary, containing the clipped 'out' which is one of the laziest terms so over-used in any writing, is enough for a full stop going further. For example, if the line was acceptable, the word 'out' is essentially meaningless, pure filler for the verbal puffery.

See: And some make the time to drive west…..   The 'out' means nothing. Oh, sure, 'out' means away from town or city. Got it. But it still is just filler talk, sloppy, artless.

            But then the first line also starts with "And some time make the time…." What? Exactly what is the purpose of the 'And'? To me it sounds fake, suave, presumptuous as in, I'm in the know, I know things, I'm really on a high level. The line also is a directive to the reader, telling the reader to do something the writer has already done. See? Follow me. Which is a load of arrogance. Now, isn't the "some time" really supposed to be 'sometime'? See how awkward the "and some time make the time…" is? So, I think it supposed to be 'sometime'. Now we come to "make the time". Which is a common phrase, to be certain. Really, really common. So, who is impressed with really common writing? Or dull writing? Very dull writing. The writer can't think of any other phrase other than a summary phrase, 'make the time…'? It almost seems as if the goal of this poem is to see how many cheap common phrases can be packed in, like in a book of, well, common phrases. No creativity allowed? Why not?

            along the … shore

            when the wind

            working off each other When does not wind and light relate in some manner?

            so that the ocean

            among stones

            swans, their feathers This is clumsy. the writer is pointing out to the reader that the          swans have feathers? As if the reader didn't know?

            the surface of a slate-grey lake Here is something which is possibly dense. This phrase is pointless. It is similar to an English teacher using a pointing stick on the board in front of the class to emphasize a sentence when there is only one sentence on the board. Imagine an artist painting a landscape and when the painting is finished, the artist paints on the painting labels, the words, tree, hill, sky. This is writing without thinking.

            "headstrong-looking"?? This is doubled over summary. The word headstrong is a good word, but pointing out that the word is—hey, look— 'strong looking'? Thanks for reminding the reader that the descriptive element in 'headstrong' exists. The bar for this kind of writing is set so low-looking.

            "tucked or cresting or busy underwater." This is a list, not poetry. Never use a list and call it descriptive writing. The reader already knows what swans do.

            "Useless to think you'll park and capture it more thoroughly." The truncated beginning is artless in use here, once again an attempt to 'buddy up' the reader with the writers great insight. And the line vacuously establishes the writers inability to get an idea across with "capture it…" What is it? It. To what does "it" reference? Ah, the poem will continue and just ignore "it." You see, if "it" is left long enough, obviously the reader will get "it" and claim to be a part of "it" which is to be, you know, poet type of stuff. So parking the car will "capture" something more thoroughly? ""More"" thoroughly? Not thoroughly, but more? Isn't a little thoroughness good enough? I've always thought of something as being thorough or not thorough, not a gradient thereof.

Finally the writer addresses the reader, which is another one of those cheap impact tricks, pulling the reader in, collaring them, getting in their space because what you are about to say is bull.       "You are neither here nor there …" This begs sarcasm: a junked-up half-thought. I know the writer has another idea in mind but can't get it expressed.

            "a hurry through which known and strange things pass …" Well, more summary, vague, culminating in "strange things …" but, you know, we will just keep going, let the strange things go by, let's not bother with much more, let's get the poem over quickly. Also, "neither here nor there—but also in a hurry? The only strange thing in this poem is a strange man sitting alone in a strange car.

            "as big soft buffetings come at the car sideways .." This line almost works. The first flaw is in the tiny word, "as". Why 'as'? There is no real reason for this particular word. 'As' is usually a filler word, why? Because the dramatic continuum fails. And then the line fails miserably with

            " … buffetings come at the car …" The writer can't think of any other means to describe what is going on other than "come" at the car? Once again, pure summary writing.

            "catch the heart" and "off guard" and "blow it open." Three clichés in a row. Impressive, because usually there is only one cliché per line in most poetry today. In summary, or, moving past all the filler and summary in this piece, and all the clichés and

along (Never use this word. Garbage)

when (Just get to it, skip the filler)

off each other (got it. Off is summary)

so that (never argue a poem into existence)

through which (use this phrase and bore the reader with the explanation)

you are (addressing the reader is fake)

to think you'll (self analyzing the poem ongoing?)

catch the heart (yes, everybody has a heart. Good going.)

off guard (boring)

blow it open (what form of explosive? Dynamite? Ew! Poetry somehow leads to an explosion?)

I don't think this is masterful writing at all as the poem was described. The poem doesn't actually describe anything, the poem 'points' at something, and there is a big difference. Walk around on the street and point at things and people will think you are nutty. Point at things and summarize in poetry and be praised.