The Orange bears with soft friendly eyes
Who played with me when I was ten,
Christ, before I'd left home they'd had
Their paws smashed in the rolls, their backs
Seared by hot slag, their soft trusting
Bellies kicked in, their tongues ripped
Out, and I went down through the woods
To the smelly crick with Whitman
In the Haldeman-Julius edition,
And I just sat there worrying my thumbnail
Into the cover---What did he know about
Orange bears with their coats all stunk up with soft coal
And the National Guard coming over
From Wheeling to stand in front of the millgates
With drawn bayonets jeering at the strikers?
I remember you would put daisies
On the windowsill at night and in
The morning they'd be so covered with soot
You couldn't tell what they were anymore.
A hell of a fat chance my orange bears had!
I don't know if I've ever read a more earnest poem by someone so well-known. That last line, urgh.
I follow Ron Silliman's blog, which is hardly news. Many people do. I like getting the poetry skinny from someone who poetry diametrically opposes my own work.Very often, his comment stream fills with relatively polite invective discussing the SOQ stranglehold on the poetry scene, or advocating for what seem to me to be various coteries of oddballs and nearly non-poets. I like that. I'd do the same thing, if I had a coterie, and I like many of the avant-garde poets I first discovered through his blog.
The thing is, despite some discussion, there seems to be no room in his scheme for a third way, for poets like me who are influenced equally by the School of Quietude and the avant-garde. Are there poets who admit to funneling their influences straight through the middle? If I had to name my influences right now, I'd name Galway Kinnell and James Wright and Kim Addonizio on one side, and Paul Blackburn,Ted Berrigan, and Allen Ginsberg on the other. I don't know what that …
I've written so many poems over the last year, since my novel leached the piss and vinegar right out of any fiction I tried to write, that I don't even remember writing this one. I'm happy, however, that the writing site I've belonged to for more than ten years, Scrawl (www.stwa.net), saw fit to publish it in the house organ, The Story Garden. Here is a link to my poem, Legerdemain.
And before you all leap to join this site, it is decidedly not a place for everyone. All trolls are allowed, and it's like the Hotel California. Once you get in, you can never leave. Almost no one gets kicked out. I have left it in a huff many times--and probably will again--but I come back. Why I don't know.
I've been in the woods all week. I ripped a tick off me; now I'm thinking about Lyme disease. Fun stuff.
But look at this awesome clever bastard of a poem Bill Knott wrote. I wish I'd taken another class with him fifteen years back. I might have never written another piece of fiction, though(the world rejoices at the potential, I'm sure).
as i sd to my the darkness sur always talking i caught maybellene at the top of the hill drive he sd for christ sake john why can't you be true i sd but john was not his name his name was not sd his name no not was never his name i was not his john though as i was motivating over the hill i saw him come his cadillac sitting like a ton of lead sd sur why not i caught john at the top of christ i sd christ which was not his name maybellene mary i sd which was not his come why can't you be true drive he started back do ing the things he sd john he sd christ my cadillac you used to do what can we do against it why can't we be true for christ sake look out where yr going j…
This is one take, and an interesting one, on how poetry ought to be thought about and taught, in an interview with with Gabriel Gudding originally on MiPOesias. His book Rhode Island Notebook knocked me the fuck out, made me think more/better about my own work, made me want to work.
You're a professor of English at Illinois State University. Presumably, you teach writing workshops. For the benefit of our audience, what, in your opinion, are the most common mistakes made by aspiring writers? How do you help them to improve their craft?
Way I see it it’s a great privilege to get to teach something as important as creative writing and literature. Because of this, the words “mistake” and “craft” don’t come out of my mouth. Those categories have no place in my pedagogy: I strongly feel these are terms of schooling -- schooling in the Illichian sense, in the sense that “schooling,” as opposed to education, destroys souls. So, I try to disabuse students of the notion that the categories …
This is, or will be, a blog primarily about poetry: mine, yours,and everyone else's. I'm going to republish my poems here, talk about things related, favorite poets, po-biz, angst. I won't promise consistent updates, as I go through stages where I don't write poems, but you should see posts fairly frequently. And as I re-read this, I see I misnamed the bar. It's the Shipwreck Lounge, on Revere Beach. Ahem. Proof your work, poets.:-/
I'm watching a drape-eyed girl, callused fingers stretched like paper over thin bones, the star attraction in this bar but this isn't one of those poems, where there's some forlorn girl and some hard-bitten guy bouncing their tricks off each other like quarters into an empty shot glass or pumping each other for information while her tiny bare beach feet kick softly against the runner. It's a poem about the illegal bets being made all around, the evening sun lettin…