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August 07, 2009


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Katha I'd venture that if Mr. Collins sees the future as a wet dog, as he seems to in this poem, it is he--who has no faith in the future. I don't think either poet, Collins or Oliver are particularly vatic, though. Both wander usually in the mundane & quotidian now.

Dear KP:

At some point, all of our readers will be from the future, and Collins is right---they'll probably bear a close resemblance to the people of our present. I wonder if there's enough out there for an anthology of poems addressed to posterity. I've always liked the poem that leads off Ted Berrigan's book Nothing for You:

People of the Future

People of the future
while you are reading these poems, remember
you didn't write them,
I did.

English 101;
"I don't think either poet, Collins or Oliver IS particularly vatic, though"

shame-brained-rapid-fingered, but solid, :(

I think he's making fun of her. It's unkind.


A little more: I've gotten myself a book by Carol Ann Duffy called "Answering Back," and it reminds me of this Billy Collins poem. They are not so bad, but simiarly most are sarky "ripostes" to the original famous poem, often soul-withering, accusing the original of being posturing or phony or in an unmerited emotionalism. A few presented an alternative world view, but it was interesting to me for the most part the "answer back" consisted of optimistic in the face of the original; that was not once the way of "answering poems." If you read Collins's poem The "in" way to be today is ever guarded and performative. Alas, I'm not surprized he sells. When I read it, I thought of Jane Austen's plea in _Northanger Abbey_, only in her case those denigrating novels had not gone into the content and inner spirit of such books to ridicule them.


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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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Ringfinger was nervous
Pinky terrified
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