Hayden's Ferry Review


Reviewpoints #4 Issue 46

Continuing Reviewpoints, a series that concerns the genesis of new works by their writers and why our editors chose them for publication, here is Rose Swartz talking about J.D. Schraffenberger's poem "I memorized a list."

“I memorized a list of every single thing I forgot.” Being a forgetful person myself, I often wonder about all that has been forgotten and lost. The idea of having a list of these things is tantalizing and the idea of being able to memorize the list is even more exciting. After this initial statement, the poem retreats from philosophical concerns to general geography: placing the reader on a bus, on the street, on a walk. The speaker insists: “There are only so many things on the street. You can count them go ahead I’ll wait.” This assertion, paired with the images and frantic voice of the second section give me the feeling that I am wandering through a city or perhaps reading about a city that I wandered through and have since forgotten. The jarring little slice of sidewalk, motorcycle, and sky in give the reader time to catch their breath before the third stanza begins with another semi-impossible, yet hilarious claim: “A dog off his leash thinks that I am more or less like him.” Rather than questioning how the writer of the poem knows the dog’s thoughts, I find myself wanting to ask: well, are you? This is how I know I’m under the spell of the poem. My belief has been suspended. And yes, it is a bit frightening when the speaker announces that they are “trying to get behind the blinds of your bedroom window,” but the awkward positions that that the speaker, reader, and the outside world are what make this poem work. The poem provides finite details which arejust connected enough to provide the reader with a hallucinated memory of something that was or could have been. The impossibility of the poem is intriguing. Needless to say, this poem is not something that I will forget.