“I heard you, MEAN!” –Alberta Turner

Today, I turn my spotlight to Alberta Turner (1919-2003). Thematically, Turner is a poet of the quotidian: she observes the minute moments of ordinary life and turns them inside-out to bring to light the contents of their pockets. She also knocks the icon of the domestic goddess off her pedestal.Her work is also edgy and often disjunctive, qualities that threw off some critics such as Margaret Gibson, who reviewed Lids and Spoons. Gibson disparages Turner’s “astigmatic” vision in her “surreal collages” and “oracular riddles.” On the other hand, she praises Turner’s poems that form “organic wholes anchored in a world we can recognize for ourselves.”Here is Turner’s “Mean, MEAN,” where Turner turns to her critics who would have her write more “meaningful” poetry: “I heard you, / MEAN!” She then asks why she should mean, but her very questions belie her tendency to disjunction rather than “organic wholes.”

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