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Edelman’s poems are fascinating in that each offers an entirely new experience, yet they are all linked through their style and aesthetics. This feature of Edelman’s manner shines through, especially in the First Kiss and Sex Me. On the surface, it might seem that the First Kiss and Sex Me render the same theme of love. However, on second thought, one must admit that the two poems approach the issue of love from entirely different angles.
While the First Kiss represents a naïve, delightful outlook on romantic relationships, Sex Me offers a more greedy, realistic, and down-to-earth analysis of relationships between people in love. Therefore, the key theme of the First Kiss is the innocence of love, whereas in Sex Me, the author’s meditations revolve around the emptiness of abusive relationships: “He […] left me with nothing more/than her shadow’s afterglow” (Edelman page number).
The poems are literally packed with metaphors. The “open road before us” (Edelman “First Kiss” page number) is supposed to symbolize delightful new love, whereas the “shadow afterglow” (Edelman “Sex Me” page number) is supposed to signify the end of relationships and the pain that comes with it. The language choices are also very different in both poems. Sex Me prefers more elaborate, refined expressions: “her glistening skin always remained/The rich color of night” (Edelman page number). In the First Kiss, Edelman uses a rather rough language, perhaps, to put a stronger emphasis on the lack of experience of the lead character: “but I feel like crap” (Edelman page number).
Despite the difference in their key themes, the poems share a number of formal elements. The similarity between them can be explained by the fact that each of the poems belongs to the hand of the same author; indeed, the choice of stylistic devices and formal elements of The First Kiss and Sex Me seem to cross at a number of points. For example, the fact that each of the poems was written as a blank verse (Blank Verse para. 1): (“trans–shudder–boots–smile” in the First Kiss and “me–student–exam–taught” in Sex Me) shows that they both are meant for the reader to focus on the ideas that the author was trying to convey.
As far as the technical elements of the poems go, The First Kiss and Sex Me also share a number of features that allow defining them as the creations of the same author. However, some of the technical elements draw a very distinct line between the two poems. The rhythm, for instance, is very different in both poems. It should be noted that none of the poems follows the traditional rhythmic principles (A Quick Introduction to Some Technical Elements of Poetry, para. 2) and has a random number of syllables in its lines.
However, while in The First Kiss, the lines tend to be rather short, in Sex Me, short lines are followed by rather long ones, which creates an impression of uneasiness and anxiety. The same can be said about the melody of the poems; while The First Kiss features a number of labials and dentals (e.g., in the line “The taste of that first kiss” (Edelman page number) has mostly dentals, “liquid” sounds and gutturals in it), Sex Me contains a range of sounds that are traditionally classified as harsh to one’s ear: “The evening soon” (Edelman page number) sounds very rough and unwelcoming.
Even though each of the novels renders the same issue of love, the difference in the ways of looking at the subject matter is emphasized by the stylistic choices made by the author. Edelman uses both technical and formal elements in order to represent these ideas honestly and precisely, and, much to his credit, he succeeds.
Blank Verse. n. d. Web.
Edelman, Bart. “First Kiss.” The Geographer’s Wife. Pasadena, CA: Red Hen Press. page range. 2012. Print.
Edelman, Bart. ”Sex Me.” The Geographer’s Wife. Pasadena, CA: Red Hen Press. page range. 2012. Print.