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Bewildering Stories

The Critics’ Corner

Michael E. Lloyd, “History”

Carmen Ruggero

I’ve read Mike Lloyd’s “History” and can tell that this piece of work will influence me both as a person and as a writer for as long as I may breathe and read and write.

On the technical end, this is a great example of how content dictates form and not the other way around. In fact, in this case, form is so unobtrusive, it’s almost invisible. But that’s only one reason I consider “History” a great piece of work.

The simple opening is like the promise of a story: There was a time before mine... Mike brings us close to him and then continues, They lived and loved and laughed and sang and fought and sought the answer. Now he himself becomes an observer. He steps aside and allows the narrator to bring us closer yet and join in his recollection. And so, we become participants in the poem.

The premise is clear. The structure and language are kept simple and clean. And the work succeeds partly because of it and partly, because it is an unpretentious moment of reflection, in which the narrator’s meditation becomes the reader’s.

Having addressed the past, the narrator proceeds to address the present and I stopped and paid close attention. Not because the narrator said to do so, but because I was inside the poem, looking at the same thing.

Our predecessors lived and acted very much as we do now, and so we’re being urged to pay attention. Their actions, or lack of them, their ability or inability to confront issues, influenced the circumstances affecting our very lives. But what are we doing if not more of the same? That was my question and then I read: ...and feel I am finally learning to learn. The humility of that statement made this poem both personal and universal and in its simplicity, it is a powerful piece of work.

I know Mike doesn’t write in a vacuum. He does what he does with reason. And so it was most impressive that this poem reads as if he himself were discovering the moment as he wrote it, and that he allowed the poem to be everyone’s dwelling place.

The way Mike approached the writing of “History,” reminds me of his short story, “Drop to Drink.” In both, he takes the reader in for a delightful spin into the thrill of discovering the piece from the inside out. And this is my perspective.

Copyright © 2009 by Carmen Ruggero

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