Wednesday, April 26, 2006


GutCult is an online journal featuring poetry, essays, and poetry book reviews. This poem by Graham Foust is in Issue 6:

Just a Voice

I could not be famous
to this place.

Pale with light,
I think here—

one eye small,
the other swollen—

and I look: You’re always
walking. Your shadow

is a sky.
You are why

I say entire
life, entire world.

Graham Foust

I'm captivated by the narrator's relationship to place in this poem. S/he feels alone and unrecognized--"I could not be famous / to this place." The narrator observes with very strained vision--one eye is"small," the other is "swollen"--and states, "you're always / walking." Who is this "you"? Could it be another reference to place, this place whose "shadow / is a sky?" The narrator feels insignificant in this world s/he describes, and unable to properly describe it (the injured eyesight). Even the "shadow" of this place "is a sky." This is how the narrator conceives the contrast between the "entirety" of his/her life--small and wounded--with the entirety of the world--big, light-filled, and indifferent.


dcsillada said...

I could relate to this poem; there is a strong connection to my life. Being famous, on the contrary, is also being unknown, losing oneself from expectations and pressures to to act what others expect a person to act or do.

Amy said...

You're right, Danny. Being "not famous" may not feel alienating; it may in fact feel safe and relieving.

Amy said...
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Amy said...

I keep coming back to the "to" in the first stanza: "I could not be famous / to this place." The use of the preposition "to" is very purposeful. The narrator could say "in" this place, but the use of "to" objectifies place; it distances it from the narrator and makes it an other, like another character. Thus, s/he refers to place as "you" later in the poem.

MB said...

I agree with you about the "to."

Maybe it's just because of the previous eclipse poem, but I keep wondering about "one eye small, the other swollen" in reference to sun and moon... or something. The perspective on place is not locked in for this one.

MB said...

... I should have said in reference to moon and sun.

Amy said...


Yes. I took "swollen" to mean an eye that was closed over by a bruise; but it could mean an eye that is bigger than normal. So we could have a contrasting perspecive of one limited, one too big. Either way, it does complicate the sense of perspective in this poem.

Simon said...

I really enjoyed this one.I also agree with you on the "to", it creates a fluidity between person and place, the idea that we dont exist in, but with our surroundings, it feels very organic. I was also captivated by "Your shadow is a sky", i havent figured that out yet and im not sure i want to. This ones gona stick with me i think.