another poet I know little about. I saw this poem first on one of the many iterations of BillKnott's blog. I don't think it's available anywhere on the 'nets, but I hope people read it here and go look up Nye's work, which, what little I've found of it, is remarkable. This poem appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, May 26th, 2006.
MATCHES (by Robert Nye)
Some matchsticks in a patch of melting tar
Held my attention for at least an hour
One afternoon when I was rising four.
Crouched in the shadow of some willow trees
I stared at them and saw the way love sees,
And all was close and clear and singular.
Three matchsticks in a black hot patch of tar,
One spent, one bent, one still a fusilier
Standing up proud and perpendicular
With fire in his head, my cavalier.
Well, I knelt by them on my naked knees,
Transfixed as always by simplicities.
I loved those lordlings of the molten square,
My puny masters stuck in hot black tar,
Though only now I’ve worked the reason…
If I didn't have an MFA already in fiction, and if I wasn't thisclose to paying off my loans from those first two times around, I would hunt down Andrew Hudgins and make him (by which I mean ask him politely to) be my teacher. What I like most about this piece is how it switches registers on us gleefully and without apology, from the exquisite bathos in the first two lines, the whole first stanza actually, which dials down to the very earnest final four lines. I would like to write a poem that is funny. Any kind of humor would do, honestly, but I aspire to this kind of poem. Someday. Praying Drunkby Andrew Hudgins Our Father who art in heaven, I am drunk. Again. Red wine. For which I offer thanks. I ought to start with praise, but praise comes hard to me. I stutter. Did I tell you about the woman whom I taught, in bed, this prayer? It starts with praise; the simple form keeps things in order. I hear from her sometimes. Do you? And after love, when I was hungry, I said, …
I am caught between the snake and the prey right now. Let's hope no swallowing is involved.
Here's a poem which circumstances demanded, though not in the way the poem implies. I just found out that Down Dirty Word nominated it for one of the best of the web anthologies. I appreciate that gesture, Katie and Jim. It wears its spleen on its sleeve, ergo, won't get in. But anyway, here it is:
Between the witching hour and its successor,
I caught her with my utility knife in the open closet,
drawing a dark rill of blood from her forearm;
I watched unsure of what to say or do, frozen,
more or less, in the mountain of air separating us.
Wise words slipped from my mouth like indigo birds
into the caries-colored early evening, supported by
nothing I could draw on from reality. In the end,
this poem will rise and fall on the relative success
of what I should have said, known, thought, or taught.
Before. Instead things fall apart as I grasp her
I'm really enjoying Rising, by Farrah Field. I found notice of the book somewhere on the 'net, but Google has not been forthcoming as to where, so I'm going to link to some other things I found. First, a review by Dan Magers that nearly sums up how I feel about the book:
With the rise of the literary memoir in major publishing houses, it is worth remembering that through the second half of the 20th century until very recently, the memoir was the province of verse. Farrah Field’s Rising has a pervasive energy to get down an account, avoiding the narrative-suspicious modes of Language Poetry and other narrative-resistant forms, while at the same time, digesting the devices of these schools to create poems that lean dynamically against each other. Narrative in contemporary poetry, generally, has to be able to dance more quickly through points of view, voice, and time, as well as through description and reflection. Since the memoir has taken over the first-person singular, th…
If you have a coterie of people with whom you exchange poems and publish each other and do readings and socialize with (and who doesn't?), this essay may make you dump them or move to Fassett, Pennyslvania (it's funny that in that link they say Fassett is located in the Sayre metro area; Sayre has no, uh, 'metro' area, and Fassett is some distance away, another town that no one gives enough of a fuck about to describe accurately, in other words).
Read. You'll feel the uncomfortable frisson of recognition.
I’d like to say I left New York and never looked back, that there was some cloud-parting moment of clarity when I knew I had to stop being a New Yorker, stopped claiming the appellation of New York Poet, and never looked back. But I can’t.
My life as a New York Poet begins at age 26, in seminar rooms near Washington Square, reciting first drafts with sober incantation. Star Teacher #1 orders us to read Poet in New York. I do. “New York has given me the knock-out p…