A Taste of Hitchcock; poems by Lyn Lifshin (13 pages, Ten Pages Press)
Poems that celebrate other art forms are interesting not only for what they bring to the art under investigation, but for how that gaze can shape the observing eye. Think Williams on Brueghel or Kerouac on Bird. In those cases, the poets analyzed innate characteristics of the work of their subject while also drawing influences back to re-shape their own verse.
That’s not quite the way things work with Lyn Lifshin’s look at Alfred Hitchcock. The poetic mode of choice here is her standard short, iambic dimeter-ish lines which are driven by constant enjambment. Also, Lifshin’s concentration is less on Hitchcock’s artistic vision and craft than it is an imagination of the man behind the camera. Is that an ironic wink to the way in-depth analysis of film takes a backseat to celebrity culture? Or just her doorway into his work?
Either way, the poems are still inquisitive. “Fantasy Voyeur” imagines Hitchcock possessing a lurid sense of humour that makes up for some other key inadequacies. “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” posits a symbiotic relationship between the director and his leading ladies that speaks to the raw power of the creative urge. Lifshin does, however, finally move a bit past the man and to his work in “As a Child”, noting that:
“He once said telling
stories to a captive
audience you have
to make believe,
imagine they can
come to love murder.”
Well, maybe not love, but through Hitchcock’s vision, we certainly do come to a dark appreciation of its consequences.
And while this idea is a door that Lifshin only tentatively steps through, it may be just the first step towards a more traditional inquiry. If, as noted inside, this e-chapbook is a selection from a promised longer work, let’s consider it the trailer for a full-length feature to come.
Interrogate it at: