Garnier Cracks the Whip of Self Reflection to Create a Scarred, Beautiful Journey
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Jean-Paul L. Garnier’s In Iudicio, which translates to “in judgement,” is a turbulent, swirling collection. The verses froth with resentment and fury; however, unlike Abigail Kirby Conklin’s Triage, the intensity of these feelings are directed not so much at the world at large but solely at the speaker. It must be noted that while Garnier’s poetry is not “…pinpricks without a pattern…,” readers must be willing to make time to fully study and examine his work if they mean to truly engage with it.
The text begins with a furious hail of fresh guilt and disgust. Each poem is entitled as a number, and each number represents the lash of a whip. The speaker launches a frenzied attack upon himself in verse which desperately yearns for a ceasing of his existence, declaring in “4,” “Twine my tripe in dishonesty’s spindle” and in “2,” “Flames you bring to my shrine of snow”. There is such a strong desire for a total evisceration, a complete annihilation even, of the speaker’s being that readers may be caught off guard by it.
There also is an interesting battle between the feminine and masculine. On first reading, the engagement supposedly is taking place between two characters, but on a second look the struggle appears to be of a more introspective variety. Seeing as this entire collection is a work of poetic self flagellation, readers may conclude that this second theory seems to hold more water. “14” bolsters this argument; the piece is lovely, opening with “Let me evaporate / Into you and the sky / I never needed anything / Else”. This piece in particular presents a dissolution of two natures into one. Humans often struggle to accept all sides of themselves, but this piece displays a beautiful union of the entirety of one being.
And yet, the punishment continues. As it does though, the self hate turns to self reflection. The readers will see the speaker hit the proverbial ‘rock bottom’ in “24.” As the speaker notes that the “…world is cruel / And I have nothing,” an evolution of sorts begins. The shattering whip reduces to gentle taps on the shoulder. The readers can feel the shift in attitude as the speaker starts on a more constructive self critique:
You must learn abandon
Songs are not enough38
Garnier makes a point to comment, “hatred is…Purer / But still ugly”. He admits that while drinking hatred for one’s self and others can be an intoxicating experience, there is no denying the poisoning affect it has on a person. In “37,” the speaker even scoffs at the act of self flagellation as “…secret self-worship / Exposing intentions worthless”.
Fans of more vigorous poetry, like that of Abigail Kirby Conklin and V. C. McCabe, may find themselves right at home with this text. In Iudicio, published in 2017 through Cholla Needles, is a work that requires the readers to pay attention, to take their time as they consider each painful lash and ponder how they inflict their own lashes upon themselves. Readers may never full uncover what sins and transgressions the speaker has committed but his journey of self hatred to self acceptance and hope for personal growth is one that every reader can connect with.
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