Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Draft Dream Poem #3



Dream Poem #3



High on Tower Hill I walked down
what seemed to be a logging road
which petered out into a deer path.

At the end like a prize I found the head
of a girl child recently parted from its body
gore hanging from its neck (I can't use

the right pronoun here, I just can't) sway-
ing in the wind, its false body made of pieces
of metal, rattling and shaking. I knew

I had to take revenge so I followed
another trail through a river dark with fog
and the sounds of frogs echoing.

In front of me big as life a house boomed
like no noise I'd ever heard. I kicked
the door open and four small children

leapt from the shadows at once,
attacked with their teeth and claws.
Between them they had one frightening

face which they tossed to each other
sharp fangs bared and empty eyes
before they attached themselves

to my limbs to try to bring me down.
I woke to the real then, to the toe
I probably broke kicking the bedpost

in my sleep. Four children. One face.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

In the Midst of NaPoWriMo

sit yourself back for some good reading. Keep the fire stoked. Here's one I bet a bunch of you would like, Trevino L. Brings Plenty's Real Indian Junk Jewelry. Adrian Louis brought the book to my attention, and I'm so glad. Brings Plenty is the real deal. Find out more at http://www.trevinobringsplenty.com/.

Trevino L. Brings Plenty is a poet and musician who lives, works, and writes in Portland, OR. He is singer/songwriter/guitarist for the musical ensemble Ballads of Larry Drake. He has read/performed his work at poetry festivals as far away as Amman, Jordan and close to his home base at Portland’s Wordstock Festival.

In college, Trevino worked with Primus St. John and Henry Carlile for this poetry work, studied with Tomas Svoboda for music composition, and Jerry Hahn for Jazz guitar. 

Trevino is an American and Native American; a Lakota Indian born on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, South Dakota, USA. Some of his work explores the American Indian identity in American culture and how it has through genealogical history affected indigenous peoples in the 21st century. He writes of urban Indian life; it’s his subject.

Other titles by author: Real Indian Junk Jewelry (2012); Shedding Skins: Four Sioux Poets (2008).

Friday, January 24, 2014

More on Bill Knott, from John Cotter

Why isn't Bill Knott better known? John Cotter has part of the answer, at least, at the Poetry Foundation.

Bill Knott is probably the closest thing the American poetry establishment has to a rebel. Over the course of his career he has published with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, BOA Editions, and Random House, but his most recent books are all self-published. Among them, Collected Poems 19602013 is a coffee-table-sized edition; its contents were simultaneously (and briefly) made available in their entirety on Knott’s website before it was taken down, along with poems from a smaller but still considerable collection, New Poems from the Last Six Years. Because they are as cheaply produced as possible, and promoted only by Knott himself, the new books (containing no index or table of contents) stand as a kind of rebuke to the gorgeously produced, deckle-edged volumes from major publishers, and also to the often fetishistically beautiful volumes by smaller presses. They are brutal packages for an often exquisite art. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

My Pore Non-Blogging Persona Has Something Impotent Ta Say

Hi. nice to see you.

This is an issue near and dear to me, like a deer I shot.

But I've never shot a deer.

And this is why you should never trust a poet, or rather, you should not believe a poem's content is coterminous with the poet's life experience.

I am not writing an autobiography in my poems.

If I could even decide what I was trying to do with/in a poem, I would be happy. I try not to think while I'm writing or afterward. Or at all, except maybe when revising.

More articulate poets--Lynn Melnick/Cate Marvin/Amy King--than I have discussed this. See here and here and here.

Some excerpts out of context, but piquing nonetheless:

After a poetry reading I gave a couple of months ago, a stranger came up to a male poet I read with and asked him how he landed upon his chosen form for the lyric, “I”-based poems in his book. The same stranger then turned to me and asked, ostensibly in earnest, if I was “okay now.” My poems had him “worried.” I will generously assume the worry was one of concern and not prurience. Apparently he mistook my poems as a cry for help rather than, say, you know, art.

To insist on imposing an author’s lived life onto his or her work is an act of anti-reading, a demonstrated refusal to authentically engage with the thing itself that’s been built out of language.
Furthermore, such an approach diminishes the intellectual pleasures that are so fully available to the perceptive reader. My advice: don’t try to find the author’s life in a piece; rather, look for your own.
Many bad readers are bad writers. They have yet to form a sense of what they need to provide to their own readers. In short, they are poor listeners. Incapable of understanding what it means to be an audience, they serve no audience.

FOR THE SAKE of contention, and because my "I" is garnering a reputation lately of refusal (I just made that up!), I want to come at this subject from the wrong end — the un-cool, un-PC end — of the stick. The division between the poem and the poet happens to be, for me, as real as the fourth wall. It doesn't exist, but we all agree to respect it for the most part, until somebody throws a rotten apple or answers the persona during her performance.
Likewise, I take dirty pleasure in knowing things about an author, whether a fiction writer or a poet, and sometimes I try to ferret out how those details might manifest or take hold in the author’s work. It's unfair to do, I know, but because I'm not terribly invested in my own history, I don't mind if others attempt the same connections with my own work, assuming they bother about my boring details at all. Fair is fair, and I'm no hypocrite.
Until I am.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Poetry from Adrian Louis



This is how a poem means, goddamnit. From Toe Good Poetry


In those years of your dying
I remember our little green
desk lamp, its chain broken
so it had to be turned off & on
by twisting the bulb in its socket.

Sometimes it went off by itself
& we’d be engulfed in the dark
poverty we were born into.
That was how I wanted it to be
when your breathing stopped.
Quick, painless, silent, poor.

That is how I wanted it to be.
I wanted to be unable see
your face & then I could lie
& tell myself I was too old to
be afraid of the dark, too old
to fear Satan’s python penis
splitting the atoms of our soul.

It’s been six years since you left.
I sit beside myself, brought here
to these Midlands of the mundane
by the shibboleth of the Chevrolet.
In the oncologist’s waiting room
there are little green desk lamps
just like the one we had, but these
do not flicker like my health &
the health of all in this room
seem to be doing this morning.
Across the room an old coot
with solid black eyes blinks at me.
Death smiles from the blackness.
Death is dancing in his skull.
Black bats flutter out from
his eyes & infect any hope
we might carry.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

One Good Response to Edmundson and that Harper's article (you know the one)


Dear Mark Edmundson,

I read your article, “Poetry Slam,” in the latest issue of Harper’sand I’d like to respond directly to your “slam” of contemporary poetry by offering the same audience an alternative perspective:
Using only brief fragments of single poems from only 9 living poets (including 1 Canadian, 1 Irish, and 1 actually dead)(endnote 1), Mark Edmundson lambasts the current state of American poetry. I think it’s important to bring to the attention of a larger readership the recent misdirected and lazy criticisms lavished upon contemporary poets that distract from the depth, diversity, and relevance of the work itself. Yes, some readers actually seek out and find poetry that is intellectually, emotionally, and relationally vital.
There are two basic cause/effect accusations in “Poetry Slam” that are worthwhile to dissect to show the dubious connections and terrifying implications:#1 Because contemporary American Poetry is too “hermetic,” “private,” “oblique,” “equivocal,” it consequently “has too few resources to take on consequential events”:#2 Because Contemporary American poets lack “ambition,” they do not “light up the world we hold in common,” i.e. they don’t reflect my own worldviews that make me feel like there is a singular “fundamental truth of human experience.”Unfortunately, what emerges in this article is a desire for singular type of poem. A poem that a) provides unique images that simultaneously relate to obvious cultural referents (“the TV show, the fashions, the Internet”), b) sublimates most poetic techniques to present direct arguments in the form of revelations c) that respond to “the events that began on September 11, 2001 and continue to this moment.” In sum, every poem should be a humanist poem of epiphany with blatant political/cultural references to post-9/11 living. Oh yes, this sounds like a great way to enliven all American poetry!

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