Recently on Goodreads, a fan named Shane reached out to me via messaging to discuss Drunk Dialing the Divine. These kinds of things usually make me super anxious (did they like it? did they not like it? will I be able to answer the reader’s questions? will I be able to handle the reader’s questions?), but Shane gave me a gift in sending his own analysis of the title poem, ‘Drunk Dialing the Divine’, which had led him to order the collection. I have gotten his permission to share his analysis here, which he apologizes for being “impulsive and impassioned…soul bypassing head…[with a] heartfelt scruffy photoflash quality to it”.
“Drunk Dialing the Divine” from the excerpt online…. the title reminded me a St John of the Cross line about God being a hidden wine cellar in the heart. Or in this case the tragic consequences of heart and/or world intoxicated by every thing else apart from God… the phone call echoes the alienation and dislocation of modern relationships with each other and God. The narrator (Mediator????) is interesting because she voices a Pauline concept that when we come face to face with the supreme holiness of God it will be “terrifying”. The sheer righteousness and ultimate goodness of God demands that even angels must avert their eyes and I could witter on about cheap grace and the cost of refusing grace for pages and the blasphemy of this world.
I like the ‘lasso’ line- its bold and dramatic, suggesting Christ’s suffering but is also about control,(you lasso animals) Man tries to domesticate God… but here is the thing, the last line “staving off prayer” also points to the fact the narrator/”mediator” is out of step with God. He/she’s ( I’m assuming its a woman) vision of God seems smug, shrill and narrow, he/she has domesticated God. I scribbled down- can you Drunk Dial God? I mean how many sinners have in a moment of despair screamed out to God and found in the morning they didn’t have to apologize to God. That’s the radical vision of redemption right? Jesus is the “mediator” between God and man he came for sick not the well. The narrator seems dulled to the possibility of mercy in some subtle way . The poem had me thinking of the Pharisees concept of God and the publicans God “forgive me I’m a sinner”.
As we never know what the drunk is saying in the poem we can’t work out if he is at rock bottom and truly contrite( what has he done? what is there relationship??) or as implicit just a another repeat offender. The poem is wrestling with the difference between piety and love, mercy and justice. Oh I really, really liked the change in gear or flow just after ‘lasso’-‘rope’. It had the effect of looping the poem back on its self like a lasso . There was also some nice lyrical flashes contrasted with pungent spikiness.
I really enjoy when people respond to my work like this. Shane touched on a lot of nuances that I intentionally put into the poem as I was writing it, as well as pointing out possibilities in interpretation that I hadn’t even thought of yet- but can accept as being a completely valid, and strangely refreshing, reading.
I am extremely grateful for this first in-depth analysis of my own work, and look forward to more in the years to come! Have you read one of my works and wanted to tell me how it made you feel (whether for good or ill?) Always feel free to either comment or contact me via e-mail. I love having these kinds of discussions with my readers!