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« Couch-potato Kittens, Bad Rap Lyrics, and the Ever-cheerful Mr. Larkin [by Ernest Hilbert] | Main | Hot Off The Presses! »

May 26, 2009


As Jasper Johns said to Meyer Schapiro, it is not a sin to count the cherry blossoms as they drop on the pavilions of spring. But when the names drop like bird droppings, then as Gertrude Stein told Frank O'Hara remarks are not literature and names are not literature either, let alone poetry, Pablo. It all goes back to Heidegger. Therefore I, David Schapiro [sic], exists [sic].

This excellent poem proves that the author's genius has less to do with the names that trip off his tongue (references, reverences) than with his precise vision of things as they might be.

I looked at the issue and the poems by those you mention are the real standouts!

In ten of my books, there's hardly a name quote etc. In my speech as a teacher and
lover of poetry I mention my teachers and poets ... love. But the poet who mocks me shows he has something much worse than a love of poetry -- the person is mean, hateful -- wants only to make the most aggressive caricature -- why? --qualities much worse than any reference could provoke. If all my work seems so chock full of nothing, why not turn to something he/she DOES love and let my poor criticism and/or poetry die
a natural death. Why not leave alone such a cheap target. Write about what you love.

Here's the paradox or self-contradiction. The person who mocks me for dropping names or allusions
or quotations and references--is alluding to my poems and even speech-habits.
Therefore, the critique itself is really an EXAMPLE of inescapable reference. Who would even understand this to be a put-down of my work without the "reference" or parody of my forms, up to and including typos. Let's see the person
parody me without reference allusion etc. Watch out that your parody doesn't hoist you by your own allusions. If my style is so terrible, let's see your pure work uncontaminated by references. I'm waiting
for your pure modest perfected direct work!
My poem, by the way, has no reference except to the Milky Way and God. Sorry!
You couldn't even print your parody without a name,is it difficult to sign your name? Lettre de cachet? Anonymous assassin
like a plea that National Security keeps one from "naming names." in l968 student protesters were called violent, not the police who battered us. Get it? Who's mean here, mean-spirited, ungenerous, defensive, ugly? Guess.

There is something odd about the relationship between man a machine. It seems the internet is filled with a close cousin of road rage. Is it the anonymity that brings out the beast or the feeling of power being in control of a mechanism with destructive potential? This is root of so many sci-fi writers horrors. But I think it is not the machines to blame but ourselves. I like David's suggestion: find something you love. Its much harder, but worth it.

An Insight in being Parodied: Of course I';m wrong and will now never allude to anything,
though even that alludes to this conversation. Notice that even for a million dollars
my interlocutor can';t find say any essay of 25 pages in the world that is without names., And IF IT IS, and some love this style, the style that emerges is authoritarian
and revelatory. Tyrants don't have to be generous with history. Tirades have no footnotes. And so the very parody itself is built up on a hatred that rebounds to the hater.Most of what I was asked was to talk about teachers, books, etc. But the oparody makes anything subtle and searching into
the pedantry and sliminess. Whgoiever wrote it, call me and see what my tone really is. 1 718 601 3425. Seth Abramson has spoken to me and apologized four times in print.Ask l00 of my readers and friends whether your vulghar droppings are not l00 times worse than what I say...Why not insult my nose, as you do " too frightened of Cyrano, why
not insult my mother, now she's dead and the dead can't sue, why not sue yourself for
wrongful caricature, selfrighteousness masquerading as unmasking..., And be amazed as some are that yr work is read as hurtful--let it be your fate one day to be
attacked as a cartoon of yourself , sewlfish One" Send me soon that bright pure essay of yours
that speaks densely of your craft without a name allusion reference or story
There goes Proust who loved Names and there goes Popeye that reference with John Ashbery as cartooned by critics for 30 years///I beseech thee in the bowels of poetry, can you ever apologize--show me your great poems that back up your energy--show me one great poem, and do it
immediately as I was forced to answer questions immediately...Do it Dark Avenger!
oops you have no name, you are G-d, and your name
would stun sextillioins of poetasters.
Yes, unmasked, I will now give up Poetry
like a tiny victim, of your ill will...
Finally your mockery is so accurate that I will fall upon my sword
but that's an allusion I will throw myself overboard like Crane
but that's a reference Thank you for showing me the rightness of'
my path--there has been a past and
indivuals are part of our life not empty like a linguistic theory that prides itself
on lacking blood or wit. Jakobson names names in an interview with me--do you hold him wrong for telling stories about M, K, and others...Dasfadanya...

Two trains of thought: If critics were to search for something worthy of their love and perpetuation, they would cease to be critics. And, why get out at the first stop when you don't know where you're going? Will you recognize your destination when you see it? As Hyman Roth says in "The Godfather" (part II), I'd give a million bucks just to take a piss. Now there's a critical standard for you. Speaking of "The Milky Way," in Bunuel's movie the Catholic church equals grand cosmic entertainment. Everyone in Spain speaks French. Yes, that is true to my experience, senor. Yet the Dodgers cling to their 3-2 lead over the Padres. I don't know what prompted this rush of thoughts, but rest assured, dear David Shapiro, your work will outlive the tyrants of parody and poesy, and your birthday wishes warm this heart of mine.

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


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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