You can read this poem on the Furrow Magazine website:
I always like to say that I am a poet, and that I write for myself, because I typically do not enjoy what others make. Other poetry and creative work may be well written, thought out, and constructed, but it usually fails to resonate with me, compared to something I would create myself. This notion remains true to some degree, but lately, with the help of being exposed to more writing, more poetry, and more creativity, my eyes have opened up to the work of others. Perhaps I have been provincial in my judgment, and have not allowed the words of another poet to work their magic onto me. Perhaps it is not so much their lack of understanding myself, rather it is my lack of understanding the genre entirely. There is always more to learn, and with each poem I read, I always learn a little bit more about what good poetry contains, and what it constitutes. Such can be said for the poem I am reviewing here, entitled “Fruit on Fruit” by Levia Roskopf.
This particular piece was published in the spring 2022 edition of Furrow Magazine, which is a literacy and art collection combining poetry, creative nonfiction, fiction, and visual art. The magazine began as a student-led affiliate of University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the early 2000’s, before blossoming into a combined English and Art course for students. It is one of the premier opportunities for undergraduates looking to get into the publishing industry, with a wide variety of roles to boot. Anyone is able to submit to the magazine, and at no charge (submission deadline for this spring was February 20). My role, for now, remains undefined for Furrow, but I hope to simply gain experience in the field as well as bolster my resume for a future career, whatever it may be.
Every poem begins with the reader addressing the title first and foremost. Of course, the reader may gravitate back to it after reading in order to further assess its context, but it will always come first. The title “Fruit on Fruit” picks the brain and leaves the reader suddenly immersed in a world of citrus and natural sweetness. If you love fruit, you'll surely love this title. The reader is then immersed by the first few lines of the piece, opening with a contemplative question. The narrator appears to question the repetitive nature of still life paintings, many which contain a typical assortment of fruits on a dining table in popular culture. By labeling the frame as a “faulty ice box” leading the “oil paints'' to “crust and smear with age,” it can be assumed that the narrator is trying to convey a distaste for repetitive, overused still life subject matter (1-3, verse 1). Although stale and boring to the average visual arts consumer, such staleness appears quite appealing to the average fruit fly, according to the second verse. The third verse further conveys the insipid nature of the average still life, where a younger generation of school children is left unimpressed by it in verse three. The poem concludes in verse four with their teacher adoring the piece, while fruit flies fly directly from her mouth.
Despite being such a short piece, the poem manages to convey a potentially sour subject in a very creative fashion. The metaphor is somewhat simple, being fruit flies to rotting fruit of an overused and old still life, but the author uses it effectively. Opening with a question immediately forces the reader to ponder what the narrator is questioning, and then the reader also questions it. The second verse really points to how many times we are exposed to ‘stale’ still life paintings, on the walls and in our brains, like they are forced upon us– yet, we are expected to appreciate and simply eat up the supposed great art of the past. Even if younger children aren't fond of it, they are expected to enjoy it based on prestige alone. The only element consistent in the art, as in life itself, is change– perhaps the teacher of the children is unwilling to change, and this poem reflects such. Perhaps she is less a connoisseur of art and more so that of the industry, and whatever is most profitable for the average trader of art. The poem really works to pick the brain of the reader and merits numerous questions about the morals and principles of the art industry, as well as how children are taught about art in school. The one utilizes the typical constraints and lack of leverage when teaching young people art to its advantage–it comes off initially as a conventional contemporary poem, but uses the rules of such in an ironic manner. The poet understood the rules of the game and subtly broke them , proving that this particular piece was indeed worthy of publication in the spring 2022 edition of Furrow.
With this in mind, I proceed to say that I definitely enjoyed reading this poem, and I hope that I come across more clever works like this in the future. I am left satisfied and with new cravings for fruit, as I hope all readers would feel the same.
Final score: 9/10
Vernacular Whirlwind: March 21.