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.


Friday, September 13, 2013

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!

More:

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Poem Draft

Revere at 92 Degrees

Cops swirl the rotary like feral cats or cock-
roaches while in the beachhouse bathroom

someone is fucking someone or having it out
with their violent bowels at 10:30 AM.

If I were a horse I’d be split-hoofed but sedate,
a little out of my field lathered with ocean

spume the dirt of a thousand filled diapers
abandoned to sand or caught in kelp

washed up from Nahant or the Back Bay
or fuck--the Azores? England?

On the road opposite the beach cops stop
a latino kid on a skateboard (I don’t know

why it takes three cars) and send him off
in a different direction. My kids are yank-

ing at my shorts so we hit the beach sand
and broken bottles with the occasional

needle or nip bottle. It’s a grand public
place America’s first public beach.

A horse cop trots along the beach but
the horse leaves a sodden dump in

front of kids who have nothing to
do but play with it while their dark-

skinned mothers scream in three different
tongues to stop. The horse doesn’t seem to care.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Another Draft


Perverse Cowgirl

Know what you’re saying before
you say it. Your partner of choice
may have an opinion. You must
efuckingnunciate carefully so

that when you hop on or your
partner hops on there needs
to be between spasms a careful
avoidance of cramp. That’s when

you’re talking about something
else. A perverse cowgirl, though
is someone you want to be next
to you in the firefights of life

and the enrapturing
of the erotic. They are evil
when you need them to be
and crushingly familiar

with your Eros and your Than-
atos. If you have kink in you
they’ll bring it out. Bells on,
and maybe a bit of feathers

and the bedroom door firmly
set against the eventual creep
of your children who will see
something that takes years

of therapy to unsee and never ever
gets forgotten. On your deathbed
they will remember and before they
cry will think of you in lingerie. O God.

Draft


Walking the line

I felt a stalwart black eye
of the hurricane blindside
me at midmorning. Tore
down the street 110 miles per

only to find my stop at
the end of the whine in
Gloucester where I dropped
off Olson’s now-fenced entry

to the Harbor.  A seagull
floated me down but
I rose like seltzer bubbles
all the way to the end,

where piers from three
centuries ago aggro’ed
me into submission. I
beat the oxygen

to the surface but flailed
in the face of the fish
company taken over the wharf
puked up my brunch

and decided to drive
up the Cape but lost my
way on Bearskin Neck where
all the protopoets go for ice

cream or to gig their hard
drives into submission.
Their poet hats are so quaint.
I’d like to bust them in the nose.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

New Draft

Hi all. Did you miss me?

...

Liars. :-)

Here's a new draft in my new conversational style. Scatology and sexism optional, but you know, the fart joke always works.



One Last Crap

That’s ten pounds of weight I no
longer have to try to lose.

Do you know how long it takes?
To fill up? And I have diverticulisitis

or something which cuts divots,
fucking DIVOTS! into my colon.

I will forever be set upon by diseases
I can’t pronounce around my

spastic rolling tongue and the fine
root canals American dentistry

have provided lo these many years
but have not yet found a way to stop

psychosis. What kind of shit is that?
In the future dentists will cure their patients

of psychosis with drills and fine-breasted
attendants who intentionally brush you

as you turn your head to spit blood
and juices into the great gaping maw

of the American health system.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Reidel Interviews Rooney on Weldon Kees


Weldon Kees has been gone close to 60 years, but he continues to inspire. The Nebraska-born poet, who also wrote fiction, composed jazz, and produced experimental films, is the animating spirit behind Kathleen Rooney’s book Robinson Alone (Gold Wake Press, 2012). In her new collection, Rooney pays homage to Kees’s best-known work, the four Robinson poems that he published before disappearing in July 1955. (His car was discovered in a parking lot near the Golden Gate Bridge, his body never found.) James Reidel, author of Vanished Act: The Life and Art of Weldon Kees(University of Nebraska Press, 2003), interviewed Rooney for the Poetry Foundation. They spoke about why Kees is an invitational writer, what Nickelodeon has to do with poetry, and the aesthetic elegance of disappearance.

Robinson was considered a doppelgänger of Kees, an urban and urbane Robinson Crusoe. Why write an entire book of post-Robinson poems?

The Robinson series is one of Kees’s projects that I would have liked to read more of, but there isn’t any more. Not to say that the four poems aren’t “enough” or that the series feels “unfinished”—if anything, I admire Kees’s economy—but I really love the poems and their mysterious, quasi-alter ego, and I wanted to see the story continue. One of the poems in Robinson Alone concludes with the couplet “Incompletion makes people / want to fill your blanks in.” The impulse to create, I think, often comes from this feeling, even if it’s not always as direct as it is in the case of my post-Robinson poems. Probably a lot of writers could tell you vivid and specific stories of the writers they read who struck or inspired them in such a way as to make them want to create their own work; I think of these writers as not just “inspirational” but “invitational”—like what they’re doing is an invitation to try to do it yourself. Kees is an invitational writer for me.

An example of this invitational phenomenon that sticks with me is from an episode of the Nickelodeon kids’ show The Adventures of Pete Pete, which I watched all the time growing up. Little Pete is on his way to school, and he passes a garage band that happens to be rehearsing a song that he falls head over heels for. He can’t get it out of his mind, but when he comes back later, the band has disappeared. Ultimately, Pete realizes that the only solution (in the absence of ever finding the band again) is to start his own band and make his own songs. The Robinson poems are like that to me. More.