Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from August, 2010

Dear Sandy, Hello: Letters by Ted Berrigan

I mentioned this book a couple weeks back and just now saw this interview with Berrigan's close friend Ron Padgett on Harriet, originally published in PW.
Poet Ted Berrigan's close friend Ron Padgett co-edited Dear Sandy, a collection of letters the young Ted wrote his wife when she was institutionalized by her parents for marrying him.
What was your relationship with Ted while he was writing these letters?We were both living in New York on the Upper West Side, but I was keeping my distance from him. Although we saw each other and there was no overt hostility, I was feeling a bit cool toward him during that period.How do you think all Ted's interests in writers and artists come together in these letters?They combined in several ways. First, in a general way, that is, as an affirmation that art and literature really do matter in one's life. Ted was encouraged by all the great art he was seeing in New York and all the books he was reading. In a more literary sense, he was …

Ever Wondered About Poetry Bestsellers?

Jim Behrle lays it out for you.

Weekly, the good folks at Harriet put up a post that links back to a list of poetry bestsellers. Where does this list come from? Is this a Publishers' Weekly bestseller list? Does the Poetry Foundation create a list? The word "bestseller" is a dicey supposition to begin with, across any genre. The New York Times bestseller list does ask many bookstores to report their own bestseller lists to contribute to the numbers. But a New York Times bestseller doesn't usually mean more customers bought #1 than #2. When a warehouse at a distributor replenishes another warehouse at a chain, that could count as bestseller numbers. And it's up to the individual reporting store to decide how to report to the New York Times. If a reporting store had events that particular week with Carl Hiaasen and Sloane Crosley, guess who will be at the top of their Bestseller List? Neilsen's Bookscan does not take into account sales at Walmart or Sam's C…

Why Can't I Leave You, by Ai

Speaking of great poems this time, from Poetry 365--


You stand behind the old black mare,
dressed as always in that red shirt,
stained from sweat, the crying of the armpits,
that will not stop for anything,
stroking her rump, while the barley goes unplanted.
I pick up my suitcase and set it down,
as I try to leave you again.
I smooth the hair back from your forehead.
I think with your laziness and the drought too,
you’ll be needing my help more than ever.
You take my hands, I nod
and go to the house to unpack,
having found another reason to stay.

I undress, then put on my white lace slip
for you to take off, because you like that
and when you come in, you pull down the straps
and I unbutton your shirt.
I know we can’t give each other any more
or any less than what we have.
There is a safety in that, so much
that I can never get past the packing,
the begging you to please, if I can’t make you happy,
come close between my thighs
and let me laugh for you from my second mouth.

Letters to Yesenin #3

Last night, in a reaction to some new meds, all my joints exploded with a pain I can only describe as burning from within. I felt like shit and knew I wouldn't sleep, so I picked up Letters to Yesenin by Jim Harrison, a book I reread every year or so to remind myself to stay alive. Last night was the time; I grabbed it and a bunch of John Wieners (check out the new EPC page on Wieners) for my dark night of the soul. It's a great life-affirming read though every poem is more or less about suicide. I think this poem is from 1972 or 1973, as it describes events from the 1972 Olympics.
Letters to Yesenin3 I wanted to feel exalted so I picked upDoctor Zhivago again. But the newspaper was therewith the horrors of the Olympics, those dead andperpetually martyred sons of David. I want to presentall Israelis with .357 magnums so that they arenever to be martyred again. I wanted to be exaltedso I picked up Doctor Zhivago again but the TV was onwith a movie about the sufferings of convicts…

Poetry Bomb

Here's a prosaic poem. I tried to do something with the repetition, as you can see, and I'm sure it doesn't work right now. I'll force myself to recast it at some point, but the sentiments are there so when my wife stumbles over my blog as she sometimes does she can read it. Like a poetry-bomb, except it'll disappear in a couple days.


*poof*

A Book to Look Forward To

I yanked this info from the Poetry Foundation blog, Harriet. It's a starred review, too, so I'm very much looking forward to reading it. I love poet's letters, but I wonder if any contemporary poets are archiving their emails for posterity. I doubt it, and that's too bad. The interwebs have shortened not only our attention span but our capacity for those long conversations letter-to-letter and closer to the heart than the short coldness of email.
Dear Sandy, Hello: Letters from Ted to Sandy Berrigan, Ted
 Berrigan, edited by Sandy Berrigan and Ron Padgett, Coffee House (Consortium, dist.), $19.95 paper (368p) ISBN 978-1-56689-249-0

In 1962, poet Ted Berrigan (The Sonnets) was an unknown New York writer. While visiting New Orleans, he eloped with 19-year-old Sandy Alper. Suspecting Ted of drug use, Sandy’s parents “became frightened and irrational” and had her involuntarily committed to a mental ward, although after a few months, Sandy managed to flee with Ted. By 1969 the…