Wake: Up to Poetry
“Violent as upturned books”: Review of David Wheatley’s The President of Planet Earth
“Wheatley has spent his life on geographic margins,” writes Cal Revely-Calder in his review of The President of Planet Earth in the Times Literary Supplement. “To use a pun I imagine he would like, his poetry is accordingly littoral: built around the hard specifics of several shores. … His poetry is about not only how these settings look, but what they have come to mean; they are matters of time as well as space.”
Revely-Calder acknowledges the menace throughout these poems, but points out that Wheatley writes with “the barbed humour of the carnival.” In varied and playful forms, these poems are “attentive to the pratfalls of dogma, of an elite that takes itself too seriously and so, foolishly, leaves no room for a savvy fool.” He continues:
Wheatley isn’t one for decoration — an aesthetic principle that is raised to a moral one by his lines. In its thrift, The President of Planet Earth often resembles the work of George Oppen or Francis Ponge; its attention to specifics is unflinching. Word by word, the texture of a vista or situation is brought into brutal focus. And these are poems unable to live off a single set of roots; they continually open up to new ways of scrutinizing an environment of which we are both analysts and integral parts.
Read the full review in the May 29, 2018 edition of The Times Literary Supplement.