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Paul Cunningham on Paul Cunningham.

September 8, 2011 \pm\30 2:00 pm

A review of Paul Cunningham’s Pangur Ban Party e-Book: Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer
by Paul Cunningham

Paul Cunningham’s Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is a collection of text that was published as a Pangur Ban Party e-chapbook in March of 2010. The e-chapbook features an image of the MGM lion—and one could suspect that same lion’s identity is confirmed in lines from the collection’s opening poem that read, “You roared like the lion / before the movie.” Readers should not find difficulty in linking the bond that exists between the living/breathing MGM lion and its slogan, to Cunningham’s imagery, which contains various references to a surreal bondage between a lion and a human being. However, it is the classification of the collection itself that proves frustrating. While the first piece stands alone as a poem (or singular unit), I am confused by the nine selections of prose that follow it. If I am to count each of those nine selections as a singular unit—each one as a single, eh … let’s say prose poem—then I believe each prose poem reads as an unfinished product. Each prose poem reads as only a part of something larger, I think. And if Cunningham intended those nine portions to be treated as mere prose, then I remain troubled by the syntax of the first piece. Why the poetic form? the line breaks? should the reader consider that first piece an epigraph then? If so, such an epigraph doesn’t do much to preface anything. Something is unfurling here, but Cunningham only seems interested in positing questions with no answers. Bottom line: I think this is either a story trying to be a poem, or a poem trying to be a story. Again, it is a frustrating collection. I am unsure if the work can be justified, but I think it is at least worth a read.

Tread carefully.

(***½)

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