Robert Morse in action. The song is from How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying. Words and music by Frank Loesser, and Morse is doing it here, solo, at an awards ceremony.
Robert Morse in action. The song is from How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying. Words and music by Frank Loesser, and Morse is doing it here, solo, at an awards ceremony.
The Third Area is pleased to announce its second poetry reading of fall 2011 on Thursday, December 1st at 7 PM, at the Rosamund Felsen Gallery in Bergamot Station, featuring: Chad Sweeney, Julie Paegle and Beth Ruscio.
Come to the gallery at 6:30 to drink, nibble, say hello, and view works by Charles Arnoldi.
Rosamund Felsen Gallery
2525 Michigan Avenue, B4
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Don't miss it!
-- Megin Jimenez
Greetings from the fortress of solitude, a tiny room on the roof of a building in Brooklyn. Much like the character Blanche DuBois (my arch enemy), I am alone with my thoughts... a misunderstood artist sitting in a room alone pretending to be angry at my mother. However, unlike Blanche DuBois, I don't have shitloads of "stuff" that follows me around in dusty, unwieldy trunks. Come to think of it, I do indeed have a lot of clothing that I must donate to Goodwill, but because I'm markedly not a disgraced woman of the night, I uh...I uh... well this extended metaphor thing is getting really bad. Moving on...
So now that Cyber Monday and his ugly older stepsister Black Friday are shrinking in the rear view mirror of my calendar....I can skip to the favored younger child: LAST-MINUTE SHOPPING! Sure it's not even December yet, but Ye Ol' Organized Freaks out there are already completely finished with their shopping. The rest of December is a mere daymare filled with a blank expression-filled pressure cooker of crowds -- or in the pursuit of the avoidance of these crowds. Oh it's almost too late!.....(I lift my lifeless wrist to my forehead and arch my neck back.)
I'm here for you: for you friendly poets and friends of poetry and poets out there like me who haven't begun your shopping and are looking to shop for the poet in your household. Please check out these poet inspired gift ideas. In other words, these are all things that I, Amy Lawless, want and I was inspired to write about. You can backchannel me for the mailing address of my fortress of solitude. (Just kidding!)
Here's what I look like without the following presents (note: completely asleep, perfect bangs, and delicate spectacles):
So let's get right to the recommendations!
1. Augury Books has set up an "Indie Gogo" account. I'm pretty sure Indie Gogo is Kickstarter for the people who...haven't heard of Kickstarter before. But more importantly, Augury Books are raising money for their line of cool books and chapbooks. If you click here, you'll view a cute video as well as a list of the books that Augury is going to put out this year:
B.C. Edwards' chapbook, Paige Lipari's chapbook, and Patrick Moran's book.
These are books that I'm excited to read and (therefore) you should be excited about these pieces too.
2. The latest and last issue of Supermachine! Here is a link to buy it here. I'm thinking your cool younger cousin might like this. It's cutting edge poetry. I fell out of a train station one day and ended up at the release party and I heard really rad readings from the content of the magazine from Sampson Starkweather, Dan Hoy, Bianca Stone, Dan Magers, Ryan Doyle May, and Jackqueline Frost. I wish I could lift my arms from being lazy. Then I could copy lines from Jackqueline's poem which I laughed a lot during because it was the funniest and darkest poem about OK Cupid (a shitty dating site) I've ever heard.
3. If idealism is your thing, and you believe you can make a difference in the world, you should donate to a cause that floats your boat. Here are a few that are new and interesting (to me). Donate to Occupy Wall Street, or Amnesty International . There are plenty of other beautiful causes. Poets LOVE ideas and are often thrilled with a donation in their name being made to an organization they believe in. This year has been a weird one politically. The U.S. killed an innocent man this year. If you care, then give a little bit to that kind of cause. But if you don't, I'm sure there's something you believe in. If you don't see injustice in this world, you're not reading enough.
4. Maybe you're someone who wants a break from poetry. You're terrified that the world is coming to an end or is broken and you need to prepare for endtimes? (LOL) Well, how about Thermal Night Vision Goggles? We all purchased expensive night vision goggles last year for Christmas, but this year, we need to be able to sense the heat of others as they approach our compound. Wait you didn't know that the world was coming to an end? Oh well, I mean well... maybe it isn't. Maybe you're just feeling that "nagging feeling" that you can't put into words? Well there are 2 avenues to take to calm that feeling: snorts or coughs.
5. Snorts: A Mini Potbelly Pig. Listen sometimes dogs aren't cute enough for those of us who are dying to cuddle something. Thing is: pigs are way cuter. Shhhhhh package of bacon in my fridge! SHHHHHHH!
I know i said I didn't want any of these gifts. I know i said I in fact owned most of these things, however I was lying. I want a baby pig. I want you to give it to me. This one on the left is a cute adorable baby. I think it would look amazing curled at my feet right now and would make me drink less wine.
6. Coughs: I don't know about you, but in my perfect reality, I am sitting on my couch with a potbelly pig curled at my feet and I'm reading Keats' letters. So you should buy the young burgeoning poetry lover in your house a copy of Keats' letters.
Here's a letter to Fanny that makes my Gchats transcripts look like nutritional contents of a baking powder canister!:
25 College Street
My dearest Girl,
This moment I have set myself to copy some verses out fair. I cannot proceed with any degree of content. I must write you a line or two and see if that will assist in dismissing you from my Mind for ever so short a time. Upon my Soul I can think of nothing else - The time is passed when I had power to advise and warn you again[s]t the unpromising morning of my Life - My love has made me selfish. I cannot exist without you - I am forgetful of every thing but seeing you again - my Life seems to stop there - I see no further. You have absorb'd me. I have a sensation at the present moment as though I was dissolving - I should be exquisitely miserable without the hope of soon seeing you. I should be afraid to separate myself far from you. My sweet Fanny, will your heart never change? My love, will it? I have no limit now to my love - You note came in just here - I cannot be happier away from you - 'T is richer than an Argosy of Pearles. Do not threat me even in jest. I have been astonished that Men could die Martyrs for religion - I have shudder'd at it - I shudder no more - I could be martyr'd for my Religion - Love is my religion - I could die for that - I could die for you. My Creed is Love and you are its only tenet - You have ravish'd me away by a Power I cannot resist: and yet I could resist till I saw you; and even since I have seen you I have endeavoured often "to reason against the reasons of my Love." I can do that no more - the pain would be too great - My Love is selfish - I cannot breathe without you.
Yours for ever
Mmmm.... Now I'm jealous of a dead girl and a little lonely like Blanche again. This isn't good. I really want that potbelly pig. Well....(rubbing toe in the sand).... guess I'll have to see if I'm on Santa's nice list. You don't want to see me look like this all year, do you? (look below) Well, short of being alone without a pig, I guess I might continue to breathe another year with just books. Books are my friends, eh? (cute loud, almost artificial sounding *sob*) Here is a list some books that I've made friends with this year. Maybe you should read them too because well...some angel must have gotten its wings in order for you to have continued reading this far: "Negro League Baseball" by Harmony Holiday, "Glass Is Really a Liquid" by Bruce Covey. When I next descend from my turret, a copy of Paul Violi's In Baltic Circles will surely be in the Fortress' mailbox.
7. But there's other stuff I want. No one gave me a copy of Anne Carson's Nox last year, so I must toil away without it. And I can't seem to reserve any of my wine money to buy "This Can't Be Life" by Dana Ward. I loved Ward's chapbook "Typing Wild Speech" and much like the Mini Pig, this would also be one that i'm "not kidding" about wanting under my Christmas tree this year.
8. Are you still curious about the necklace I'm wearing in the 2nd picture? It's a piece of jewelry made by a wonderful poet Paige Taggart, as a matter of fact. Click here if you'd like to look at her wares. Her necklaces make excellent presents. I have given my family members many of her necklaces and they always love her pieces! Always!
9. Oh well now... I guess there's nothing else that I could ask for in the whole wide world if these presents sit under the tree on Christmas mornin'. In gratitude I wish I could give you something of my own to repay you. If only......
Well.... the doctor is here.... I better open my eyes and see what he wants.... See you all next year! Happy Holidays! <wink>
Jake Adam York's post of several months ago about studying with with A. R. Ammons during graduate school reminded me of the interview David conducted with Ammons back in the early '90s. I had been meaning to post it for quite a while. Here's part one. If it seems to begin in medias res that's because it does, due to a bumpy start to the recording. Part I runs roughly 25 minutes and you will thank me for all but the last moment, for which I apologize. Put your earphones in and listen. There's much to learn from Ammons.
Check back often for Part 2.
-- David Lehman
"The thing I don't like about being called a 'sex symbol' is that it makes you into a thing. But if I have to be a symbol, I'd rather be a symbol for sex than for some other thing."
"I had the foreground -- and the background."
Okay I thought I was done but I need to do a little more. Essay Part One.
Allow me to put two more bits of notion into our meditation on the rule of bliss and its opposite, the swing-and-the-miss (and solitude, and its opposing number too) (which for me, right now, is you).
Note the first is the excerpt from Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal commonly, wonderfully offered in tandem with Will’s poem. Read it like you have been staring hungry too long a tin of grav lox missing its key, and then entered the theater to deliver it as a monolog to the ghost of Stanislavski:
When we were in the woods beyond Gowbarrow park we saw a few daffodils close to the water side, we fancied that the lake had floated the seeds ashore & that the little colony had so sprung up— But as we went along there were more & yet more & at last under the boughs of the trees, we saw that there was a long belt of them along the shore, about the breadth of a country turnpike road . . . some rested their heads on stones as on a pillow for weariness & the rest tossed & reeled & danced & seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind that blew upon them over the Lake, they looked so gay ever glancing ever changing. This wind blew directly over the lake to them. There was here & there a little knot & a few stragglers a few yards higher up but they were so few as not to disturb the simplicity & unity & life of that one busy highway... —Rain came on, we were wet.
April 15, 1802
I wandered lonely as a cloud, indeed.
Note the second is that William wrote, and it has been oft repeated, that the two best lines of his poem were written by his wife, Mary, these being, “They flash upon that inward eye/ Which is the bliss of solitude.”
Well the winner is whosoever’s work is long remembered and in this case the palm goes to all three. Also I don’t mind noting that while Will is a good man to go publically gloating about the wonders of his spouse’s mind, he was to himself a little too unkind, as the best line of the poem is the first one, the one that no who hears it, or perhaps speaks it aloud, ever quite forgets: I wandered lonely as a cloud.
The second best lines are indeed the ones Will called out as best, his wife’s apt description of something usually hidden and damn difficult to describe: that there is an inward eye, that things flash upon it, that solitude can be tasty and what is most tasty about it is the opportunity for day dreaming wherein spiced heights of passion and tangential sour lows of gross revenge play out a thousand times. That is the bliss of solitude when nothing, even so divine as love, is suffered gladly to intrude.
The third best lines of the poem are “Ten thousand saw I at a glance,/ Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.” I’m kidding of course with this beauty-pageant ranking, but the other lines that describe the wind tickling the lake into a million flickers of lightnesses and darks, then without dropping a stitch switches to tickling the flowers into a million flickers of yellow, lilting in brightness and weakness and power.
To continue, the forth best lines of the event are Dorothy’s: “some rested their heads on stones as on a pillow for weariness & the rest tossed & reeled & danced & seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind that blew upon them over the Lake, they looked so gay ever glancing ever changing. This wind blew directly over the lake to them.”
I could have stopped the quote at “laughed” which as the moment awakens into full-on magic, as in fairy tales when candles stand up and sing or when the color comes on in the Wizard of Oz, because here the flowers are Pinocchioed into humanity, when the daffodils, giggle themselves from that to they, but I was loath to lose Dot’s repetition about the wind and the lake and the blooms. What was so transfixing to them all, Will, Mary, and Dot, was the oneness of the water and the petals in their response to the wind. It created a scene of simplicity, and unity, and life, and that is the wind we all long to get caught up in.
Our own little heads are heads among ten thousand and when we too are too weary to dance, we rest noggins on rocks and are still parts of the program. The wind blows. Each tiny patch of water responds with a new reflection of the sky or matte introspection. On the shore, each leaf responds, each alone, each uncertain and certain, all in concert. Our hearts respond, each an only, each uncertain and certain, all in concert, and something lifts that often keeps us drastically darkened and lonely, somehow nature and art lift that murky curtain, and we join again the light fantastic.
Such togetherness abounds and is as thick and sweet as candied meat, but what about Crusoe, truly alone, perched on a little dead volcano, watching things of unquenchable beauty, like roving, giant, test-tubes of glass arising from hot pits in the magma, with boiling water spouting out of them like screaming kettles abandoned on their stove. Actually, let’s return to the text for a listen:
The beaches were all lava, variegated,
black red, and white, and gray;
the marbled colors made a fine display.
And I had waterspouts. Oh,
half a dozen at a time, far out,
they’d come and go, advancing and retreating,
their heads in cloud, their feet in moving patches
of scuffed-up white.
Glass chimneys, flexible, attenuated,
sacerdotal beings of glass...I watched
the water spiral up in them like smoke.
Beautiful, yes, but not much company.
I often gave way to self-pity.
“Do I deserve this? I suppose I must.
I wouldn’t be here otherwise. Was there
a moment when I actually chose this?
I don’t remember, but there could have been.”
What’s wrong about self-pity anyway?
Whenever I read this I’m like, "What the what?" I’m a nut for this kind of question and answer, the commitment to the notion that I know this world is of my making, clue one was that it is so perfectly tailored to unnerve me. She tells us it is our fault, this mess we’re in, but that it is okay to cry about it.
We are all back from somewhere, each a Doberman among Chihuahuas, but we are also on our way elsewhere to birdland, when we will look back on sharing dogness and a scene together, Will, Dot, and Mary, will seem something only the impossibly young could do, and what might never again be done.
Then we’ll know that we have passed the lake-afire-with-light part of life and are into a new one this time full of laughing fellows and full on sunny yellow where every glint of golden shimmer is perfectly opposed by one mustard and dimmer. As in the past it is the next ancient world I am trying to get through to, to which I am trying to get through. As I’ve told you before, I may play with a noun or a verb but prepositions must get all their tits in the right bra cups if I am going to proceed.
And I mean to. So, yes, there is Crusoe remembering Will and Mary and Dorothy’s memory, but not quite remembering their communal memory to the finish, leaving him diminished by three lines and the crucial, I repeat, crucial information that the bliss of blank is Solitude, where one has time enough to start seeing picture shows, unasked for but awaited, running unabated upon the inner screen of mind, “that inward eye.” Crusoe remembers the Wordsworths, and later remembers himself remembering, and is then remembered by Bishop, who is remembered by me, who is remembered by you, all of us wandering lonely as a cloud, building up to a bit of a storm.
Which is where I’ll leave you. Get home safe now. DKY and ISRTEYA.*
*Don’t Kill Yourself. I Shall Return To Encourage You Again.
Posted by Jennifer Michael Hecht on November 28, 2011 at 04:50 PM in Jennifer Michael Hecht, The Lion and the Honeycomb | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Bob Holman has been dubbed a member of the “poetry pantheon” by the New York Times Magazine, “ringmaster of the spoken word” by the New York Daily News, and “poetry czar” by the Village Voice. The San Francisco Poetry Flash calls him “the best MC in the USA” and “our generation’s Ezra Pound.” His last collection of poems, A Couple of Ways of Doing Something, a collaboration with Chuck Close, was exhibited at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum during the Venice Biennale and published by Aperture. Holman ran the infamous poetry slams at the Nuyorican Poets Café from 1988 to 1996. In 1995, he founded Mouth Almighty/Mercury Records, the first-ever major spoken word label. The United States of Poetry, a TV series he produced for PBS, won the 1996 INPUT (International Public Television) Award. Holman is Visiting Professor of Writing at Columbia School of the Arts, founder and proprietor of the Bowery Poetry Club, and artistic director of Study Abroad on the Bowery, a certificate program in applied poetics.
Moderated by David Lehman, poetry coordinator at the School of Writing.
Admission $10.00 will support this fascinating project by one of our most talented photographer/filmmakers. Find more information here.
Each day this week, we will present a poem by Sextus Propertius -- #12 in his Cynthia sequence in the original Latin, in Vincent Katz's accurate transltion, and then in free translations (based on sound and appearance with an utter disregard of semantics) by such poets as David Lehman, Laura Cronk, Matthew Yeager, Megin Jimenez, Justin Marks, Wende Crow, Karl Parker, Erin Burke, Phoebe Zinman, Peter Drake, Claire Fuqua, J. D. Bullard and their confreres and consoeurs as well as a pocket bio of Sextus Propertius by Jack Hanley, and not a word about Extra Pound!
OK let's get started. Here is the Promethean poem in the original and in Vincent Katz's translation:
Quid mihi desidiae non cessas fingere crimen,
quod facias nobis, conscia Roma, moram?
tam multa illa meo divisa est milia lecto,
quantum Hypanis Veneto dissidet Eridano;
nec mihi consuetos amplexu nutrit amores
Cynthia, nec nostra dulcis in aure sonat.
olim gratus eram: non illo tempore cuiquam
contigit ut simili posset amare fide.
invidiae fuimus: non me deus obruit? an quae
lecta Prometheis dividit herba iugis?
non sum ego qui fueram: mutat via longa puellas.
quantus in exiguo tempore fugit amor!
munc primum longas solus cognoscere noctes
cogor et ipse meis auribus esse gravis.
felix, qui potuit praesenti flere puellae;
non nihil aspersis gaudet Amor lacrimis:
aut si despectus potuit mutare calores,
sunt quoque translato gaudia servito.
mi nesque amare aliam neque abhac desistere fas est:
Cynthia prima fuit, Cynthia finis erit.
And now as translated by Vincent Katz
Why don’t you stop fabricating the crime of apathy for me,
which you say, all you eyes of Rome, is the cause of our delay?
She is separated as many miles from my bed
as is the Hypanis from the Venetian Po.
Cynthia doesn’t nurture my usual affections with her
embrace, nor sounds sweet in my ear.
Once I pleased her: no one then could
claim to love with such intensity.
We were victims of envy: didn’t some god eclipse me?
Well, what herbs from Promethean heights divided my bed?
I am no longer what I was: a long road changes girls.
In a scrap of time, love has flown so far!
Now, for the first time, I am forced to know long nights
Alone and hate the sound of my own voice.
He’s happy who cried for a girl who was actually there.
Love delights in being sprinkled with tears.
Or if the despised lover can change his passion’s object,
there are pleasures too in transferring one’s servitude.
For me it’s not fated to love anyone else or to stop loving her:
Cynthia was the first, Cynthia will be the last.
Celebrate the life and poetry of Paul Violi, with readings of his poems by distinguished poets, friends, and former students. The roster of presenters includes Paul Auster, Star Black, Patricia Carlin, Billy Collins, Alex Crowley, Elaine Equi, Jennifer Michael Hecht, Mark Hillringhouse, Amy Lawless, David Lehman, Lizzy McDaniel, Charles North, Ron Padgett, Robert Polito, Ali Power, Michael Quattrone, Helen Schulman, Amanda Smeltz, Mark Statman, Tony Towle, Maggie Wells, and Bill Zavatsky.
Theresa Lang Community and Student Center,
Arnhold Hall, 55 West 13th Street, 2nd floor
6:30 PM on Friday evening, December 2, 2011
Free; no tickets or reservations required; seating is first-come first-served.
Find out more about Paul Violi over at the always engaging blog TheThe.
Read tributes to Paul here. Send your tribute to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks, everyone, for your positive responses to yesterday’s post, both online and off! I’m happy I could help generate such a conversation!
To clarify: The post was partially tongue-in-cheek, and the name of the awards was supposed to be silly and over-the-top. The $20 award was absurdly low by design. My point is this: If we feel the range of national awards or in-print anthologies doesn’t fully represent the communities of poetry we love, we, as editors and readers and poets, have the right to create new awards. And the prestige they receive is a function not only of the creator’s proclamation, but the degree to which they reflect contemporary poetry’s range and vibrancy. I’m certainly not uniquely qualified to create such awards or anthologies, but I will—that part of my post wasn’t ironic. You could create one too, just as David did several years ago when he started Best American Poetry. There was a need then—one that still exists today—except that today, there are so many more publishing poets.
I was also serious about nominations—please continue to send them to me at email@example.com! Thanks to everyone who sent names and titles to me already! For the official 2011 winners, please see the Coconut website and/or facebook page sometime around the end of January.
Back to Coconut, I can now reveal one more secret: We’ll also be publishing Serena Chopra’s first full-length collection in 2013! Serena’s chapbook Penumbra is due out any day from Flying Guillotine. Here’s a poem from it, called “Force and Stress”:
Force is that which stole your saw and tasseled its blade from my throat—a change in motion— stationary objects are unproductive. From everyday experience you know that if a door is stuck (stationary), you apply force to open it (get it in motion). To apply motion towards reset, structural geologists use the term stress, or the amount of you I find parched in my edges. The magnitude of stress is not simply fibrous. Not wild flower bouquets to hidden blades. Not the mystery of the purpose of depending on skin. Not to keep you out. The magnitude of stress is not simply us, but also relates to this door. Locked edges. For example, if you are walking barefoot on the beach, your feet lifting and folding sand, the weight resets the water’s fine composition of her shell-bits and fossil. However, if she would not let you sigh into her welcoming edges, if she clawed you from the shore and made you tread— You’d spit in her hair. Or journey to her gut and stomp up phantom clouds of dust.
Now about me: My most recent book, Reveal, is just about read to go to the printer and will be available at the Coconut/Bloof booth at AWP. Please pick up a copy? SPD will have it too—hopefully by early spring. I’m also finishing up my next manuscript, Change Machine, which will have two sections: “Heads” and “Tails.” I plan to submit it to publishers just after New Year. Anyone interested in looking at a copy when it’s ready?
Also, Reb Livingston just posted “Black Friday Weekend” prices on No Tell Books, including mine (and hers, and Lea Graham’s new book, and all the others).
Also, I ran into Gina Myers a couple of hours ago at Criminal Records, a terrific Atlanta independent cd store. Is it true that cds will soon no longer be made? Wouldn’t that put an end to the artistry (visual/object and conceptual) of the album? Will all music be reduced to singular points, released as each song is produced? Will everything, including books, dissolve into the netherweb? I love technology, but—as was discussed recently elsewhere on this blog—I tremble at the potential loss of the physical book. & music that can be exchanged from hand to hand.
Special thanks to Jamie Iredell, Heather Christle, and Brandi Homan, who haven’t received as much space as I’d planned to give them this week. Lots of others too—it’s such a great time to be a poet.
Thank you, readers, for this week, which has been really magical for me. Most of all, thanks again to David and Stacey for this chance to share my thoughts.
I come to speak of daffodils not to bury bulbs of them. Here as we enter the entry to winter I thought I'd hinder the mundane with a bit of verse rapture about how hard it is to do without and how often we already have what we can't quite remember. Let's start again.
For many of us, when someone asks, “What would you bring with you to read if you were stuck on an island deserted of relief, for upwards of decades, lost as a tribeless chief?”, the answer is, “What do you mean ‘if’?
In Elizabeth Bishop’s sublime poem "Crusoe in England" every stone and stanza is a brilliant primer on the primal and the primary, what it is to be human from pram to prime to prim, and back to pram again.
Today I’m thinking of Crusoe’s confession that among the agonies of that wee island of his captivity, beyond rank loneliness and raw despair, beyond rage like a volcano-in-violence and sorrow like the cold, hardened magma the morning after, looking like the very shit of your life solidified, as unkempt as your bedroom, some parts glassy perfection and frozen, others chaos and regret, yes beyond all that, sat the anguish of a forgotten fact and nothing to consult to bring the neuronic nightmare of searching to a climaxed close, an answered ending, a fattened act in the sated sweet repose of Now I Know.
You should go read the whole poem but if you’re already too drunk or not yet drunk enough, read this chunk from the trunk:
There was one kind of berry, a dark red.
I tried it, one by one, and hours apart.
Sub-acid, and not bad, no ill effects;
and so I made home-brew. I'd drink
the awful fizzy, stinging stuff
that went straight to my head
and play my home-made flute
(I think it had the weirdest scale on earth)
and, dizzy, whoop and dance among the goats.
Home-made, home-made! But aren't we all?
I felt a deep affection for
the smallest of my island industries.
No, not exactly, since the smallest was
a miserable philosophy.
Because I didn't know enough.
Why didn't I know enough of something?
Greek drama or astronomy? The books
I'd read were full of blanks;
the poems--well, I tried
reciting to my iris-beds,
"They flash upon that inward eye,
which is the bliss..."the bliss of what?
One of the first things that I did
when I got back was look it up.
The island smelled of goat and guano.
Now what I want to say to you, dearest darling bleaders is about what she, he,
Posted by Jennifer Michael Hecht on November 26, 2011 at 11:02 AM in Jennifer Michael Hecht, The Lion and the Honeycomb | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Tom Disch excelled at every literary genre he tried his hand at and had big infuential fans and yet -- and yet he was dogged by bad luck, by a prejudice against genre fiction (he made his mark initially as a sci-fi writer), and by the lack of one breakthrough event that could have turned him into a household name -- to write a best-seller that is made into a movie or be at the center of an intense controversy or ideally both at once. He was a brilliant novelist: read "Camp Concentration," "334," "On Wings of Song," and the short stories in "Getting into Death." He also distinguished himself as an author of children's books (jn verse and prose), an anthologist (speculative fiction), and as a playwright willing to take on the Cathlic church in a verse play that Harold Bloom picked ouit for The Best of the Best American Poetry 1988-1997. A fearless critic -- whether of theater or books, in London or New York -- he was a poet of immense formal gifts, great inventiveness, wit, humor, and sometimes savage loathing. In some of his parodies, such as one he did of A. R. Ammons, what shines through is his affection; he share with Ammons the ability to say yes to life in all its diversity and for all our perplexity. In the poems he wrote in his last year, he displays ire as fierce as his irony is bitter. Always prolific, Disch chronicled the year of his suicide in poems, a few of which we've posted on this blog. -- DL
What I Can See from Here
I face east toward the western wall
Of a tall many-windowed building
Some distance off. I don't see the sunset
Directly, only as it is reflected
From the facade of that building.
Those familiar with Manhattan know
How the evening sun appears to slide
Into the slot of any east/west street,
And so its beams are channeled
Along those canyon streets to strike
Large objects like that wall
And scrawl their anti-shadows there,
A Tau of twilight luminescence
At close of day. I've seen this
For some forty years and only tonight
Did I realize what I had been looking at:
The way god tries to say good-bye
May 24, 2008
This morning I decided to launch a major new poetry award, called The Super Important Totally Awesome Major Major International Poetry Award, with its easy-to-memorize acronym SITAMMIPA. It will carry as much prestige as the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, or National Book Critics Circle Award. Each year a staff of experts will choose five finalists from all the nominees, then I will mail out ballots to 50 prominent poets to vote for the winners (two categories: Full and Chapbook-length). Each winner will receive $20 from me, plus, most importantly, all the incredible prestige that will come with the award. I’m totally serious. Well, I mean I fully intend to give out the awards, at least.
Please email nominations for the 2011 SITAMMIPAs to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Winners will be announced sometime around the end of January, and I’ll send out checks just after. I’m certain we’ll get major, important coverage in all the major, important news venues.
The idea for this major, important new award came from a conversation I had today with another poet about the ways in which awards and anthologies can fragment community by creating an artificial sense of privilege or exclusivity. I don’t think this state of poetry is anyone’s fault—it’s just that we all (well, many of us) have slipped into a mode of discourse in which we (readers and editors alike) equate a selection for an award or an anthology as some sign of objective superiority, rather than the opening gesture of a conversation. When Rae Armantrout (deservedly!) won two of the three major poetry awards, wasn’t it also an acknowledgment of the work of Rae’s poetry community? In addition to buying Versed, which is a terrific book, shouldn’t everyone also go out and purchase titles by Leslie Scalapino, Lyn Hejinian, and Carla Harryman? And/or other poets with whom Rae’s work has been in conversation? And bookstores everywhere carry these titles on their shelves?
We can, in other words, become introduced to or begin to engage a particular poetry community through an award or anthology as entry point.
Her waking state can be termed the true yellow cling peach of romance
In a word, anatomy
She will return as a harmless subject envied by none
Neighborhood: abandoned former battlefield
Social structure: artsy/inefficacious
Favorite leisure pastime: whining/watching rented movies
And the May month flaps its glad green leaves like wings
They have been put in alphabetical order
Like a piece of ice on a hot stove
If it is a wild tune
I threw away punctuation
Never reject anything. Nothing has been proved
Back into the city to find that lost serenity
I woke from it. Nothing anywhere lacked definition
--Lyn Hejinian, “11th Dream of July,” from Coconut Five
Across sculpted surfaces glowworms manage excess with initials some call instincts and others choose to relish for their own sake. How many times has a gift become a crisis?
Beatles do not ask this question. They ask another question. Will the debris linger on the anchor? Much has been made of baleful themes waiting to be realized. But upright legs rub together regardless of gender.
Phrasing is everything clamoring for connection organized by jealousy. Emoluments for hands scale up the spine of another's mate. Dust lit on chunk. There were consequences and results never acknowledged by either.
Crashing through the waves with their jaws interlocked, the fighters kill each other then duck under a wreck where the coolest of nights collect their orgasms.
A grandstand above is not the place to sit when the psyche below wants revenge. Such arrangements can't control a wing tickling inside the breast or the barb that curls down the smooth of a butt or the knee that picnics on the outside of a strange creature's toe. It is not safety one seeks in a shadow.
Across sculpted surfaces theories speak to me as poems. Literacy in fields of discourse crumbles amongst freaky sounds. Here are the sirens of not knowing everything. The map of whatever is stilted. More than one bird has pinched an ear, which burns in tenderness and loses a hard-on.
Alternatively, a bird pinches an ear. Alternately, a bird pinched an ear.
Alphabets like insects may triumph over the arrangements made from their parts more than is normally thought. Even as languages disappear the headspace made in the damage converts to tongue.
Between an ecstasy and its other is a factory. Bees nest inside its abandoned parts. In a photo the factory seems old and still. It is never still. The photo is a distraction used to orient brains toward the shell of their prey.
-- Carla Harryman, “not ensnared, they wait: Noise for Adorno,” from Coconut Eleven
Best American Poetry, each year, generates wonderful conversations. The easiest possible critical response to an anthology (and, sadly, the most common) is to list the poets who were omitted, but “shouldn’t” have been, or to dismiss particular inclusions. We all do it—it’s this type of conversation’s default posture. Fortunately, however, we’re at a point in poetry in which an anthology can be constructed along many, many aesthetic lines, and within each of those lines, with many, many possible and various points. For me this is one of the greatest parts of poetry—that at the end of each year we can take time to reengage the many incredible poems we read throughout the year and discuss why and how each is “best.”
In addition to the new award above, Coconut will publish an anthology sometime around the beginning of 2013. The anthology will be edited only by me and will include my choices of approximately 100 amazing and original poets who help to comprise what, in my opinion, is new and interesting in poetry today. Upon the anthology’s publication, I’m going to create a blog to allow readers to post their choices for which poets should have been included. Then, sometime the next year, Coconut will publish a companion anthology filled with only those poets nominated by readers. The first volume wholly, individually subjective; the second, democratic.
What do you think? Don’t forget to email me your choices for the best book and chapbook of poetry published in 2011!
See you tomorrow, Bruce
Ruth Stone died on Saturday, November 19, at her home in Vermont. (Here's the Times obit.) The poet, 96, toiled in obscurity for most of her life, her work a secret known and cherished by the few until awards belatedly came her away in her 80s. She appeared in five editions of The Best American Poetry and lived long enough to see a poem by her granddaguhter, Bianca Stone, in the 2011 volume. The head note to The Oxford Book of American Poetry notes thatt the poet "seems committed to disproving the notion that a poet's powers decline with age." When she won the 2002 National Book Award, the poet, then 87, said in her acceptance speech, "I guess I should say I've been writing poetry or whatever it is since I was five or six years old, and I couldn't stop, I never could stop. I don't know why I did it. Anyway. It was like a stream that went along beside me, you know, my life went along here, and I got married and had three kids and did all the things you have to do, and all along the time this stream was going along. And I really didn't know what it was saying. It just talked to me, and I wrote it down." -- DL
We all respect you, Sir, for the violence
of your death. Who'd ever heard of a stingray
turning its tail into a spear
and thrusting it in someone's heart?
What can one say but Wow, way to go!
I walked once alongside a ray, at dawn,
drawn from the shore step by step, entranced.
Could it have done the same with me?
The sea has so many ways to kill a person.
But your death was as though Ocean himself
had crushed you with a single kiss.
April 19, 2008
Well, it is Thanksgiving after all, so even though it’s a bit over-determined and even though I don’t really celebrate Thanksgiving for obvious reasons, I’m going to post some heartfelt poetry thanks by category. My guess is that you’re busy today with family and friends and parades and food, so to those lonely few who are reading this post today, drop me a line!
To everyone who has published in Coconut magazine, and to everyone who will submit their work over the next year. Thanks to Coconut Book authors Reb Livingston, Gina Myers, Jen Tynes, Natalie Lyalin, Sueyeun Juliette Lee, Denise Duhamel, Amy Lemmon, Kimiko Hahn, Megan Kaminski, Molly Brodak, Angela Veronica Wong, Jenny Boully, Hanna Andrews, Emily Toder, Amber Nelson, and Christie Ann Reynolds. Thanks to new Coconut editors Kim Gek Lin Short, Danielle Pafunda, and Gina. Thanks to Coconut editorial assistants Jess Rowan, Christeene Fraser, Ken Jacobs, Hilary Cadigan, and Lauren Schimming. Thanks to extraordinary book designers Abby Horowitz and Megan Punschke.
To those poets, endlessly generous, who host readings and publish and promote and review the work of others: David & Stacey, Reb Livingston, Shanna Compton, Steven Karl, Del Ray Cross, Amy King, Jonathan Minton, Lee Ann Roripaugh, Gina Myers, Matt Henriksen, Ana Bozicevic, Jen Tynes, Hanna Andrews, Brendan Lorber, Megan Volpert, Nicole Mauro, Larry Sawyer, Hoa Nguyen, Blake Butler, E. Tracy Grinnell, Danielle Pafunda, Joseph Wood, Susana Gardner, Lara Glenum, Daniel Nester, Didi Menendez, Brandi Homan, Matt Hart, Zach Schomburg, Brent Cunningham, Heather Christle, Julia Cohen, Kim Gek Lin Short, and the so many others I’ve missed.
To all of the Atlanta poets and writers and organizations who make the poetry community here so rich and productive and various, just to name a few: Gina, Megan, Blake, Christeene, Jamie Iredell, Alka Roy, Laura Carter, Melysa Martinez, the Atlanta Poets Group, Poetry Atlanta, the AQLF, Randy Prunty, Laura Straub, James Sanders, Rupert Fike, Ashley VanDoorn, Jenny Sadre-Orafai, Casey McKinney, Jim Elledge, Kory Calico, Brigitte Byrd, Amy Herschleb, Franklin Abbott, Jake Adam York, Chelsea Rathburn, Jim May, Collin Kelley, Amy McDaniel, Christine Swint, Karen Head, Laurel Snyder, Tom Lux, Connie Stadler, Dustin Brookshire, Jessica Hand, Julie Bloemeke, Chad Davidson, Beth Gylys, Jimmy Lo, Ben Spivey, Dionne Irving. &, in absentia, Heather Christle, Chris DeWeese, Paul Guest, Amy McDaniel, Caroline Crew, Laura Kochman, and Ann Stephenson. & specially especially my Emory colleagues Natasha Trethewey, Kevin Young, Molly Brodak, and Alice Teeter.
& everyone in Athens too, especially Heidi Lynn Staples, Laura Solomon, Andrew Zawacki, Jed Rasula, Lily Brown, Michael Tod Edgerton, Dan Rosenberg, Becca Myers, John Stovall, Sabrina Orah Mark, and Ed Pavlic.
To everyone who has read at What’s New in Poetry, my reading series, over the past eight years.
To my teachers and mentors.
To all of my poet friends not mentioned above.
To the poets whose work has inspired me for so many years: Ted Berrigan, Kenneth Koch, Alice Notley, Ron Padgett, Frank O’Hara, Lyn Hejinian, Leslie Scalapino, Robert Creeley, John Ashbery, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Amy Gerstler, Cole Swensen, John Cage, Elaine Equi, Bill Berkson, David Trinidad, Barbara Guest.
Thank you, everyone!!!
I have many things to be thankful for this year. First, that I am alive and cancer-free. Second, for my incredible family and friends who not only have buoyed me on this insane rapid-shoot, but who remind me again and again of how lucky we poets and artists are, to be able to do the work we do. Third...
Well, I could go on and on.
I think most people, if they stop and breathe and think for a minute, can come up with a list like this. We are good at remembering the big stuff. It is, after all, the big stuff. What is more difficult is to be mindful of the smaller bounty we receive every day, the "simple gifts" of the Shaker hymn that enrich us, the things that we take for granted and so almost always overlook.
For me, these are things like strong coffee with cream in it, being able to sing, my animals, the way frozen grass crunches under my shoes, hot baths in my old clawfoot bathtub, getting back my curly hair, birds at the window feeder, The New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle, cookies (any variety), colored Sharpie pens...and a million others. What are yours?
Here are two gifts from me to you. Happy Thanksgiving, I say. You're on my gratitude list, too, you know.
by Marilyn Nelson
Thank you for these tiny particles of ocean salt, pearl-necklace viruses, winged protozoans: for the infinite, intricate shapes of submicroscopic living things. For algae spores and fungus spores, bonded by vital mutual genetic cooperation, spreading their inseparable lives from equator to pole. My hand, my arm, make sweeping circles. Dust climbs the ladder of light. For this infernal, endless chore, for these eternal seeds of rain: Thank you. For dust.
from The Fields of Praise, New and Selected Poems, LSU Press, 1997
Later, after dinner, we examine your uncle’s photos
of trees, flowers, waterfalls, birds
until I just can’t stand it another second.
I am not at one with nature. Never was.
Some of the people can be fooled all of the time,
even when you yawn right in their faces.
Guests, or ghosts, have taken over the house,
lounging in the living room, watching t.v.
Ugly images of war and politics are all I see.
Cancel the rest of the holidays, please, until this
-- Terence Winch
Boxed in, Blue Humorous and Bleary Eyed (Bildungsroman Holiday by Jessica Piazza), (2010)
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
THE RULE OF THUMB
Ringfinger was nervous
when they learned
that Hand might succumb
to the rule of Thumb.