Source: Poetry (May 2011).
Source: Poetry (May 2011).
March 29, 2010
Every morning since the time changed
I have woken to the dawn chorus
And even before it sounded, I dreamed of it
Loud, unbelievably loud, shameless, raucous
And for once I rose and twitched the curtains apart
Expecting the birds to be pressing in fright
Against the pane like passengers
But the garden was empty and it was night
Not a slither of light at the horizon
Still the birds were bawling through the mists
A million small evangelists
How they sing: as if each had pecked up a smoldering coal
Their throats singed and swollen with song
In dissonance as befits the dark world
Where only travelers and the sleepless belong
May Issue Poetry
I like that poem. A good issue.
The following, from the February issue of Poetry, is very good. I do not know why, but it went well with lunch.
By Jessica Jopp
In response to a student who told me he just “skims” the poetry right before class
Source: Poetry (February 2011).
Up too early reading, but the following which I think amusing came to the eyes:
Source: Poetry (April 2011).
For more from Lumsden, see here.
The issue of Poetry also has some great translations of some of Rimbaud's Illuminations by Ashberry.
I went back to bed after that.
The American Academy of Poets sends out a poem every day. You can sign up for the service here. It is a nice service. The poems are quite varied in style and subject, and range over a long time period. One day is Keats and the next Anne Stevenson and the next Marilyn Krysl. They come early in the day, so for many people it is a way to start the email review, with a breath and a moment of thought.
O you gods, you long-limbed animals, you
astride the sea and you unhammocked
in the cyprus grove and you with your hair
full of horses, please. My thoughts have turned
from the savor of plums to the merits
of pity – touch and interrupt me,
chasten me with waking, humble me
for wonder again. Seed god and husk god,
god of the open palm, you know me, you
know my mettle. See, my wrists are small.
O you, with glass-colored wind at your call
and you, whose voice is soft as a turned page,
whose voice unrolls paper, whose voice returns
air to its forms, send me a word for faith
that also means his thrum, his coax and surge
and her soft hollow, please – friend gods, lend me
a word that means whiat I would aask him for
so when he says: You give it all away,
I can say: I am not sorry. I sing.
By Rebecca Lindenberg
I’ll fly off to a fjord in Norway
Post “Oh the pain” above the doorway
If you insist on going your way,
For this is not a duck.
That is what cowards say, and realists
Who run away, shun the appeal its
Rare white fur holds, although they fell it’s
A rabbit full of pluck.
Let’s multiply, let’s twitch our noses,
Let’s walk among the night’s dark roses,
Though where the oldest story goes is
A place where tongues migh cluck.
I’ve had my share of quacks and hisses;
Whereof mouth cannot speak, it kisses;
Hop to it, man, and realize this is
A lovely bit of luck.
George Hitchcock died August 27. (An obituary is here.) Hitchcock was on the faculty at then College V at UCSC when I was there. I took a couple of classes from him. An interesting teacher, and quite dedicated to poetry as an art. I learned a good deal from him; perhaps the most important thing I took from his classes was that, however skilled I became, I just did not have the talent for a career in that art. It was a good thing to learn early. Nevertheless, I found his classes rewarding. Hitchcock was honest, and I think the sort of direct reader many need in college. Although Hitchcock himself wrote in a sort of surrealist, deep image vein, he had very good analytic skills. He was very demanding concerning the the integrity of images, and alert to the import of images in language. I remember him being particularly sensitive to use of what might be called 'orientalizing' images -- language about people in which the nationality or race was used in ways that made the person into a novelty or object. E.g., using Black or African-American (this was the late 70's so the latter was not the term used by many people) as a sign of mystery or exotic.
Marge Percy gave a reading at College V, which resulted in a rumpus. Percy was introduced by Lynne Sukenick (Ron and Lynne Sukenick were both at UCSC then, I believe, although based at one of the east side colleges -- Stevenson is my guess) who I think was associated with English. Percy gets up and recites some work. Percy's style of recitation used the "Poetry voice" with rather sing-song kind of performance. At the end, there was an invitation for questions. Hitchcock stood up and complained about the recitation -- basically that the the style of reading was ridiculous, demeaned the language, an insult to listeners. He may have said something about the poems as well. Percy did not like the remarks, and after some general shouting back and forth (Percy and Sukenick on one side, Hitchcock on the other), the event broke up.
Hitchcock took his teaching duties seriously, which is something given how little he was paid. He showed up for every class and every class was worthwhile and on topic. Plenty in his role did not -- Hitchcock did much better by his students that Ray Carver, for example. Or so it was for those couple of years.
Goodbye George. Thanks.
How to Live on Bread and Music is a quite good collection of poetry. Perhaps 5 weak pieces, or pieces not as good as the rest. The book as a whole is interesting. The language, as expected, is interesting. More importantly, the poems give one something to think about. Not just a collection of images or psuedo-profundities. I would not describe them as modest, but also not a bravura showing of erudition or he muck of fake philosophy. Insightful and lovely. I would like to be able to say I knew what I was getting, but that is not right. The book won an award and showed up in the mail -- Laughlin award I think. It is not the revelations the Anne Stevenson collection was, but this is a good book and the poet one to follow.
Thank you Ms. Sweeney. And Perugia Press -- the book is well made and lovely to the touch.
Her are the first sentences of an introduction to this year's winnner of Wallace Stevens Award:
Jean Valentine is, in my view, the great lyric poet of American poetry today. From her first published poems, which were stark, devoutly original, and slant, to her latest and her latest-latest, there appears to be an inevitable trajectory that has taken her, and us, to a place at once deeply simple, as the world is simple, yet deeply mysterious, as the world -- as life -- is.
This sort of praise fails. What is a "slant" poem? Written on an angle? What could that mean about a poem? Are we to dig into etymological and dig up something like 'outside the church'? But the poems are "devoutly original" so maybe the (ridiculous) etymological intent is at work. Well, how is that helpful? Setting aside that almost no one would get that link, and that it would embody an fairly silly view about use fo language, just what is 'devout' supposed to mean here? How is one devout with respect to originality (of writing)? Is there some doctrine or church that is at work, some theory or ideology? Next up is the poems which are simple as the world is simple. It appears this is meant in the simple sense, that is, as saying the poems are simple and the world is simple and the two share the simplicity. A view that is inane. Perhaps Stern is being ironic or clever or something and intends instead that the poems are simple in just the way the world is simple, and, as the world is anything but simple the poems too are not simple. I rather doubt that was the thought, as he also says a couple lines later that Valentine is not an ironic poet, and the rest of the essay seems quite sincere. This is an awful introduction to any poet, on two levels. It is an awful introduction because it says nothing at all about the poetry or the poet. And it is an awful introduction because it is awful writing.