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August 03, 2009


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Thank you for following up on this fertile theme - and for posting "The Poet's Occasional Alternative." The pleasures of Grace Paley's prose are many, but even some fans don't realize what fine, moving poems she wrote. I wonder whether the parallel in verse to a self-portrait is really a poem about poetry. The self is a bigger, better, more tempting and more treacherous subject than the poem, unless the poem is a stand-in for the self, in which case we're back where we started. (And as Gertrude Stein wrote, the world just went on being round.)

The second paragraph brought up a lot of associations for me. Seems a lot is expected of poets that isn't expected of other artists. (That they'll write "political" poems comes to mind.) If writing about poetry results in a good poem, or in the poet getting to the next poem that's a good poem, what's the big deal? Why does there have to be "shoulds" in subject matter? The Paley poem is wonderful. I heard her read once and always hear her wonderful voice when I come across something of hers.

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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This Way Out

by T.P.Winch

Ringfinger was nervous
Pinky terrified
when they learned
that Hand might succumb
to the rule of Thumb.



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