Book Review: Stardust

So the most recent book that I finished was Stardust by Frank Bidart, which is a poetry book. I don’t often read poetry books, so my purchase of this book was really an impulse. I bought it months ago when I was still at my college. I hadn’t managed to get to the book until now, though

I’m not sure how to structure a review of a poetry book. The form of poetry is so against the typical narrative structure, that I can’t just comment on the story and how I felt about it. Instead, I can talk about my impressions and use my (limited) knowledge of poetry and forms to help frame my commentary.

There are two sections of this book, although I would argue that there’s really 3. The first is a chapbook that Bidart published ages ago called Music Like Dirt. The second is unnamed. My third section is a longer poem at the end of part 2 called “The Third Hour of the Night.”

I really loved the first section. All of the poems are shorter but dense and full of fun language. Many of the poems kind of jumped around. Sometimes back and then forwards and then back a couple more times. It was just fun play with the images as well as the phrasing. I couldn’t pick out any forms that I really recognized, but that’s not that surprising since my knowledge of poetry isn’t that well formed. I took several classes, but I’m sad to say that not a ton stuck. I’m planning to review some poetry books later to help with any other poetry that I might end up reviewing.

But back to the poetry book. So the first section was a lot of fun. It is also the older of the two sections (I believe. It was at least published separately first.) which means that the second section is more recent and a slightly different voice. The forms seem more structured, even if I couldn’t find a rhyme scheme. They were still really interesting, taking on a kind of almost narrative sound.

This becomes much stronger in “The Third Hour of the Night.” According to an interview at the back, the idea of “The Third Hour of the Night” is based on a scroll found in ancient tomb called, “Book of Gates.” The scrolls outline the different hours of the night that the sun must pass through. It is a story with a more clear narrative than most of the other poems in the book. It really does feel more like a prose poem rather than just a poem. It uses the imagery and word play that you expect from poetry, but the story is pretty clear and very interesting.

Overall, I really enjoyed this poetry book and all that is within. I still need to read it again before I can really and truly understand the poems, but the first pass through this book was really nice. It only took me so long because I would pause and have to really think about the book that I was reading.

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