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January 13, 2012


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Hmmm. I don't think anyone can say poems "always" are one thing or another, be that gendered or anything else. So much of poetry depends upon the reader and what he/she/ze/it brings to the page, that those kind of truisms just don't hold water. Of course, certain individuals respond to specific things (we've all got our turn-ons), but that's the reader's perspective, not the poem's sexual or gender identity. Also, men and women can respond to sexuality in a poem - Li-Young Lee's "Braiding" is an example. I know both men (my husband, for one) and women (me, for one) who find the sensuality and intimacy of this poem knee-buckling. So I think guessing at the gender of a poem/poet is interesting, but ultimately reductive. The poem and your own response to it are the crux of the matter.

Or did I miss the point entirely? (Ern Malley - LOL)

Thank you, LO. There are certain facetious elements in the post, including made up quotes from made up folks, such as the storied Ern. Some call it irony and I guess it's that but it is also what happens when I'm riffing on the keyboard. DL

Long may you riff, DL.

Riff, but don't raff.

But that they were 80% wrong strongly indicates that an important discriminating factor exists, and, moreover, that it's not the product of self-fulling bias.

I'm curious how the poem is viewed as living up to the intensity of that opening. It seems to me that the first line sorts of sets us up with a certain way of looking at what follows, and that any intensity has to come from some shifting element we don't really get. High intensity at a constant level is simply low intensity, once we get used to it. Nothing in the poem varied the level, so it failed to live up to the first line.

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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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