Journal of Lovesickness

Last time we ran hand in hand with someone, a telephone pole broke it up.
As we can tell from this choice line, Steve Price’s chapbook Journal of Lovesickness offers a very clever as well as relatable snapshot on the author’s many failed experiments with romantic love. This is made even more apparent by the mission statement or motto provided on the cover, which informs the reader that this journal commemorates “advances in the poetry of heartbreak,” and that this is purportedly the eleventh published volume. As I found out in class, there are in fact no previous volumes of Journal of Lovesickness, so this funny little cover detail must serve some purpose. In the first place, the cover is obviously meant to ape–or, to quote Price, maybe I mean “monkey” or “chimpanzee”–the look of a literary journal, not only through the “11th volume” bit, but also through its motto as well as its dignified and old-looking crest (which, with its creepy blurry harpist bitmap graphics, in my opinion may have been something of a misstep). In the second place, calling this the eleventh volume of this journal cleverly sums up the actual content of the chapbook, which devotes itself primarily to documenting Price’s ongoing search for his one true love, unhampered by his many breakups and “dead marriages.” Basically, the contents of this chapbook demonstrate that Price has indeed endured enough lovesickness to fill the space of even eleven journals with all of his broken “candy hearts.” Anyway, by playing on the multiple connotations to the word “journal,” Price gives his chapbook not only an academic but also a personal spin, with its short entries reading almost like a diary, holidays and months often appearing as the titles for these prose-poems.

One footnote: Why doesn’t [oops!] the poem “April” appear after “St. Patrick’s Day”? As a critic, I would point to this as perhaps another misstep laid specifically at the feet of the editors. They might say, “Hey, all of the dates and chronology don’t have to be exactly in order! You get the idea!” …But why not? Price is obviously quite diligent and doesn’t miss any opportunity to make his poetry as cute and delectable (yuck) as possible, so if you ask me they should have just shamelessly matched style and content and gone with a straight-up “matchy-matchy” look.

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