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« Save the Date and Spread the Word: Reading in Troy, NY, September 13, 2017 | Main | Sway Me Smooth with Rita Hayworth »

August 15, 2017


beautiful tribute and how wonderful to add his voice on the phone message, and how distorted memory is, as it didn't sound like I remember his voice sounding at all...though the voice in his poems did, brilliant choices Terence...

Thanks, Michael.

Beautiful memory. And most interesting to read the other links to prior posts and past times ... Makes me wish I had known you all back then

Terry, well said and thank you for introducing me to Liam years ago. Here is a poem I published of Liam's in Smartish Pace, Issue 13 (April 2006).

My Memoir

This memoir is not by a somebody
Writing about something (I’m no
Charles de Gaulle writing about

The writhing decisions he made
During World War II); this memoir
Is about a nobody with a little

Something to tell the world, something
That might help the world recover
From whatever has so long been

Bedeviling the world. (“The world”
Here is a synonym for capitalism—the
Circulatory system—which

Is a synonym for need, need
Augmented by want, want
Augmented by advertising,

Or by something like wandering
Around in any
Very well-stocked department store.)

Mine is the memoir
Of a 19 year-old who took
A wrong turn at 16, a memoir

About a very wrong turning
Among American youth
At the present time.

I took drugs from the moment
I got up until the moment
I passed out at night,

Every day, every night, for
Three long years, most of which
I scarcely remember

(Which accounts for some of
The startlingly elliptical
And artful moves in the memoir)

I fought my way back to sanity
And to being able to hold down
A terrifyingly full-time job

(Even though in the early days
Of my recovery I was still
Completely batshit-crazy)

By taking what everyone by now
Knows are the age-old
Steps to recovery

Written in plain English
By the drunks and the dope fiends
Who came before me.

Now I can see
I was trying
To escape

From reality, from advertising,
From capitalism, from my very own
Endless wanting, from the very

Inescapable nature
Of the universe (from
Growing up in a nuclear

Family with an inherently
Oedipal set-up, from
The bio-fact that my DNA

Just crackled with an inherited
Disposition towards addiction,

And from
The fact that I had
A very large nose

Which no one, no
One, ever found
At all attractive.

With the money
I made from my job
I took care

Of the nose and soon
All the knowledge I’d gained
Sitting around stoned out of my

Motherfucking mind
Was finally put to some real use
By working feverishly

In the cartoon industry.
I knew what would most move
The demographic of people

Who spent an insane amount
Of their time lying
On some couch out there

Trying to zone-out to some
Alternate plane and enter some finer,
More focused, more infinitely

Shaped and less chaotic
Parallel universe, the universe
Of high art, high action cartoons.

The same logics and techniques
Applied to video games
And it wasn’t long at all before

I had made my mark in that
Industry also. It just took
Shaking off those drugs

And applying a little industry,
The kind of industry
Altogether embodied in

The leadership lessons I took
From the memoir Charles de Gaulle
Wrote about World War II.

Man, that was something.
(And since WWII no man or woman
Has ever had the real chance

To vent their aggressions
In a really good war.) That book
Was written by a somebody

With lessons that dare to say
Something to us all. I know
My memoir is junk, is shit

In comparison, but I figure
Kids my age, kids who
Haven’t yet stepped up

To the economic plate
In the baseball game of life,
Pre-economic kids,

Have to start somewhere,
With something written, even if
By a nobody (even if

So few of them read), on their way
To getting off that couch
Of addiction and stoned-out stupor,

Of being a nobody with nothing
To contribute to the war
Life actually is. And when I,

At the age of 19, look back on it
All, I have to say that nose
Job didn’t hurt one iota either.

Thanks, Tina.

I remember well that night you and I stumbled in upon Liam and his entourage before a reading he was doing in DC. At some restaurant/bar downtown. That was when we both had actual jobs in the nation's capital. Thanks for "My Memoir." Odd that it didn't make it into his book.

Terry, Liam was the one who told me about Mass Transit. We were very close friends at University of Maryland with Pat Kolmer, Becky's friend. We all found each other in Rudd Fleming's class , writing away. I will never forget him, we were like brother and sister, figuring out young selves out and what writing had to do with that. He was dramatic and kind, and would be honest to the bone with you about writing. I loved that, because everyone else at that time would be too "sweet". He sent me a postcard from Baltimore once. He knew who I was, I will never forget him Thanks for writing this on the 10 th year anniversary.

Thanks, Lynne. I had forgotten that Liam was the one who brought you to Mass Transit---I have that to thank him for as well.

How many of us still have our old answering machines, mothballing in basement or attic trunks, with tapes of messages far less perishable than our memories? The taped message you found and included here from Liam Rector is priceless. My first brush with Liam's poetry came late. It was in PLOUGHSHARES, winter 2009 issue, guest-edited by Tony Hoagland. The two poems by Liam in it were "Brother in Family" and "Hard Times." Of course, I was hooked and immediately set out to locate and read AMERICAN PRODIGAL and THE SORROW OF ARCHITECTURE. As much as I admired them, I was later gobsmacked by Liam's third and final volume of poetry, THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE FALLEN WORLD, published in 2006 as part of the "Phoenix Poets" series by the University of Chicago Press. You pasted above two of your favorite poems by him, "Old Coat" and "Mental Mommy." Let me add my own favorite by him: "Now." It's from THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE FALLEN WORLD and can be read by clicking on this:
Just imagine the phone message Liam might have left you if he could have read this BAP blog entry by you.
As always, Terence, this is another great job of posting.

Thanks, Earle. It's great to have you & Stephen Reichert offer your own favorite Liam poems. The poems live on!

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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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