This Week, I Read Ivan Jenson: Media Child, and Other Poems

Image Credit: Julius Drost via Unsplash

“don’t let them fool you/it’s not about the process/and it’s not about the journey/trust me, it’s/about getting there/grabbing what you can,” the speaker says in Ivan Jenson’s collection of poems, Media Child, and Other Poems.

The pieces in this collection are at times, brash and irreverent. Jenson uses cliches, but then manipulates them to create something new. These poems definitely have swagger. Beneath the swagger, there’s a loneliness. Despite technology and glitz and glamour, there’s a distance between the speaker and all those he interacts with.

In his poem, “Citizen Pain,” the speaker says to take what you can, “be it a trophy or the cash/the lover or the applause/and then hoarding the spoils/of your riches and/surrounding it with a fortress.” Here, he’s saying to strike while the iron’s hot.

The poet has spent much of his life in Los Angeles and New York, where there’s so much to distract and enthrall, but at the heart of it, he’s found nothing. It’s devoid of whatever would give some sort of emotional fulfillment. There’s a sense of disappointment and struggle. The speaker goes on to describe this fortress as being “built by bricks of fear/and mortar of selfishness/and holding on/with all your might.”

However, the piece ends with an interesting swerve, when the speaker says “you must let go/and say, “Rosebud.” At the end of the movie, Citizen Cane, there is a single shot of a sled, which has the word “Rosebud” painted on it. It’s the last thing that the protagonist says before he dies. It signifies his regret for the direction that his life went in. Just like the protagonist of the movie, the speaker is saying that one shouldn’t give up their values.

Stylistically, Jenson’s work is similar to Billy Collins. It’s not a difficult read–the technique relies entirely on the speaker’s voice, and the manipulation of cliches to give a deeper meaning. Not all poetry has to be esoteric. There’s certainly a large readership for works like this.

Media Child and Other Poems came out in 2014, and is available at the link below:

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