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Showing posts from May, 2010

Elegy for a Puritan Conscience, by Alan Dugan

He's one of my new favorites, and this bitter little pill shows what he does best, afflict the comfortable. I wish I'd been able to meet him.




I closed my ears with stinging bugs
and sewed my eyelids shut
but heard a sucking at the dugs
and heard my parents rut.


I locked my jaw with rusty nails
and cured my tongue in lime
but ate and drank in garbage pails
and said these words of crime.


I crushed my scrotum with two stones
and drew my penis in
 but felt your wound expect its own
and fell in love with sin.

Kinnell's Book of Nightmares/Under the Maud Moon

Probably everyone knows this poem and this book very well. Kinnell isn't exactly invisible in the poetry world. I loved this poem and this book from the very first time I read it, while I sat on the floor in the old Emerson College at 150 Beacon Street. I've loved kids from a time well before I had any of my own, and I could put myself in this narrator's perspective so easily it was as if I'd suddenly slid from my own life and become a real poet. ;-) I hadn't really read anything that used linebreaks so seemingly haphazard, but powerfully--I got a charge as I read it-- or a voice that seemed so assured of its right to the sentiments expressed. Irony is the rule of the day for many poets, and I don't necessarily cotton to it all the time so Kinnell is a balm for me; I can go back and read BoN and remember how it lit me up the first time and have energy to go back the page with. I'm sort of over his poems now, but the feeling comes back just a little every ti…

Keetje Kuipers--"Across a Great Wilderness without You

If you missed this on the internet, you can catch it here. Don't say I never gave you nuthin'.


Across a Great Wilderness without Youby Keetje Kuipers
The deer come out in the evening. God bless them for not judging me, I'm drunk. I stand on the porch in my bathrobe and make strange noises at them—                                                   language, if language can be a kind of crying. The tin cans scattered in the meadow glow, each bullet hole suffused with moon, like the platinum thread beyond them where the river runs the length of the valley. That's where the fish are.                                    Tomorrow I'll scoop them from the pockets of graveled stone beneath the bank, their bodies desperately alive when I hold them in my hands, the way prayers become more hopeless when uttered aloud.                             The phone's disconnected. Just as well, I've got nothing to tell you: I won't go inside where the bats dip and swarm over m…

Weldon Kees

Along with my Jack Gilbert kick, I've been reading the poems of Weldon Kees as well as the secondary material (very little of which seems to be available in book form), which is too bad. There's a pretty good book called Weldon Kees and the Mid-Century Generation: Letters from 1935 to 1955, which is structured in such a way that it seems more like a biography in letters. Normally, a writer's letters are collected and footnotes are rare except to sometimes identify confusing timelines. Robert Knoll includes more narrative about Kees than it does letters. I think otherwise it might not have made a full book, otherwise.Very interesting anyway. Kees seemed poised for mainstream uber-success at 41 years old when he simply disappeared.  His car, with the keys still in it, was found near the Golden Gate bridge, but with  no trace of whether he committed suicide or simply ran off to Mexico, as he talked of frequently in his last years. 


James Reidel's book Vanished Act: the Lif…

Some Talk About Jack Gilbert, by Curtis Faville, and Some Other Talk

If you don't know Jack Gilbert's poems, I suggest you run out right now and get some. I've read a great dealabouthim over the last couple years, mostly to the effect that he was a poet who moved almost completely outside the poetry scene, which is an anomaly considering how well-known he seems to be. CurtisFaville writes about some of the poems and the man himself in this series of three posts. I hope you go read them all. Found via Silliman, who must spend half his life scouring the net.

Part I:

Jack Gilbert [1925-  ] is a poet I only recently had the experience of reading. After winning the Yale Younger Poets Award in 1962, at the age of 36--rather late in the game, as such things happen, even then, almost 50 years ago now--he went into a sort of self-imposed exile, steering clear of America, the American university system, the lecture and reading circuit, and spending large blocks of time in Europe, especially Greece.In his formative years, Gilbert lived in San Francisco,…