I'm told Sunday's a "low numbers day," so I'll start posting in earnest tomorrow, but I thought I should come in here & noodle around a little. I'm a fairly lazy reader of contemporary poetry—if I'm not reviewing a new book of poems, my method is to pick the book up whenever I happen to remember its existence, read a poem or three, & put it back on the shelf. I'm usually reading four or five books at once, but unless that poem or three kill me, I'm content to let most contemporary poetry remain a dark continent I dream of colonizing one day. LOL metaphors!
The upshot of all this is that there are several piles of contemporary poetry books—I'm already tired of typing those words, instead of "contemporary poetry" I'm going to say "cantaloupe"—several piles of cantaloupe books lying around my apartment at any given time. Now I will go over to the nearest pile of cantaloupe & report back to you on its contents. Writing is so funny, how it works. OK, so that pile had Paul Muldoon's Maggot, D. A. Powell's Chronic, Mary Ruefle's Selected Poems, & A. R. Ammons's Sphere. I don't know what Sphere is doing in there, it came out in the seventies, & I've actually read it. The Muldoon came out in 2010 & the Powell was published in 2009, so you see what I'm dealing with here. Ruefle's book I've read most of, but that's because I was teaching it.
I like this a lot, from Powell's poem "on the tarmac," which I read the other day after realizing that I'd just recommended Chronic to a graduate workshop even though I'd read approximately five of its poems:
fatigued you guarded the electric fence, which guarded the planes
which guarded the covert america—that guarded place
you coveted the steel fuselage, the ticking of the engine's prop
and longed to scrooch inside, to know the gyroscope
I dig the repetition & modification of "guarded," & "scrooch" (isn't it "scooch"?), & "prop"/"gyroscope." Muldoon's wearing something slinky too:
You gave me back lake skies,
pulley glitches, gully pitches, the reflected gleams
of two tin plates and mugs in the shack ...
If you don't love "pulley glitches, gully pitches," I can't even talk to you right now. Which reminds me that in Cocktails Powell wrote "sometime between the day lady day died and the day lady di died," which is so good I want to physically kill him with my leg.
This makes me seem attracted to surface flash, like a rat going after shiny things. And that is exactly right. I like how Ammons talks about "the center-periphery thing," that mixture of registers gets me every time, "the spiritual burro braying."
Anyway, this week, in addition to posting little snapshots of my current thinking about cantaloupe, I'll be interviewing Ange Mlinko & Anthony Madrid, & attempting to reconstruct an interview I did with Craig Finn of the Hold Steady. Thanks to David & Stacey for inviting me, it's an honor.