Poetry and things


Lots of breaking the no-starting-new-books rule this episode, I'm afraid. Largely because of my local library's excellent poetry display for Poetry Month and my renewed feelings of obligation to read more poetry. Besides the ones I finished, know that there were unfinished volumes from Claudia Rankine and Dorothy Parker and . . . others as well.

018) 77 Love Sonnets by Garrison Keillor, finished April 21

Although the types of love celebrated is broad (love for Obama, love for radio audiences, love for a daughter), most of the poems touch on or dive into romantic love. (And something strange, I must say, about reading Keillor on giving oral sex.)

The book is ridden with wonderful lines, but I'm not sure there's a single wonderful poem among the 77. Frequently that's because he can't resist silly rhymes and sillier allusions as they occur to him, but regardless of reason, it's a volume of great lines buried in this and that and th'other.

The type of sonnet varies much as well. 14 lines is strictly adhered to, but good luck finding iambic pentameter---line length and rhyme scheme are loose rules to be reinvented page by page.
about a week


017) Fidelity by Grace Paley, finished April 20

I don't know her, but she's been around a long time and this was her last book. Appropriately, much of the poetry is about being old and having outlived the known world.

Some poems were excellent, some I didn't make friends with, but her voice was infectious throughout. I was taken by her use of gaps within lines, something I've never liked until now.

I would certainly pick her up again, should I see her on library display.
about a week


016) The Jam Jar Lifeboat & Other Novelties Exposed by Kay Ryan, finished April 15

This slim volume of poems was published near the beginning of Ryan's term as U.S. Poet Laureate. I almost wonder if it was published be make a quick buck at that moment until her next full collection was ready. Which isn't a knock on the poem itself, which is a serious of poems inspired by quotations from Ripley's. It's as fun as it sounds, but only fifteen poems total which runs a dollar a poem, and seems rather a lot, even if it is illustrated.

[Incidentally, I was right and wrong. Yes, this was released to capitalize on her new job. But it started life as a collector's-only hardback, so. . . . At any rate, she's written hundreds (hundreds!) of these poems, so fifteen still feels stingy, even if it started life a a beautiful handcrafted object.]
maybe a week


015) Work & Days by Tess Taylor, finished April 1

Always read a neighbors' book. That's my motto. (Not one my neighbors share.)

This is the second of Tess's books I've read (the first) and although, like the first, her work is heavy on both bluster and guilt, the proportions have changed. The bluster is in greater supply while the guilt has slipped to the periphery.

I use the word "bluster" hesitantly as it has some negative connotations that might lead you away from what I precisely mean. Words can be funny that way.

Here's the press release. And here are three lines out of context that I thought were topnotch:
flavor is the artifact of light.

We hadn't seen it, hadn't tried, had been asleep.

removing, removing the stones from our soil.
And, if you're counting down, my two favorite poems were "Hung with Snow" and "Last Hay."

1. The overriding conceit of fertility presents itself in many different contexts.

Like her last book, this book suggests it will reward rereading. I think I am more likely to address my attentions to her less bucolic book, but nevertheless: this one is good too.
four days

Previously in 2016


Nonce poem of the week


Every week the poem is supposed to be about what's happening now and to include an accompanying explanation thereof. (And links, which I failed to do this time.) Although it doesn't follow, I'll choose to assume that the rejection coming eight hours later than usual means I last longer in the bracket.

Here's this week's accompanying explanation:
For twenty years now I've been meaning to watch Ghost in the Shell, recognizing that, until I do, I can't pretend to know anything about anime. I still haven't watched it, but soon the live-action version will be out, starring Scarlett Johansson. The first image of her in the role was released this week and internet-rage over Hollywood whitewashing is once again in the news. In my own feeds, it has overwhelmed little things like the earthquake in Japan. The title of this poem comes from a student's notes on Brave New World. I was taken with the phrase, and in googling it was reminded that an Indonesian pop star died in front of her fans last week after dancing with a cobra. Her opinion on ScarJo as Major Motoko Kusanagi will go unshared.
Aspects of this poem's style were inspired by my reading of Grace Paley's final book.

while collapsing between snakes

The main thing I know about Asian girls is their hair is black          and they’re hot
he said          knowing at least the difference between their
and they’re          So what if it’s a white chick in a wig          black hair
is black hair          is black hair          My own mother was Asian
when she had me          he said          at least to see the photos
lol          But you get me. And when walls collapse          it doesn’t matter
if the hero is white in a wig or yellow or green or          (the favorite color
of the colorblind)          purple. Doth the baby care          who doth lift it
from the rubble? Course not, bruh.          No more than a cobra cares if you’re passing
as blonde          on stage          in front of all your fans          you’re very best friends.



NSFW Poetry this week


Yesterday a student shared with me a video just now going viral. And I ended up writing my poem this week based on that video and its . . . comments. (An example newer than the poem appears below the video.) It's legit. The previous purchased poem, for instance, was inspired by this. Oh, and the bombings in Brussels.

Order of consumption doesn't matter.

Rechtmäßigen Persiflage

We may have moved from fricasseed baby
to vegan sausage but
the YouTube comments remain
unchanged, denying potatoes
to Irish and supplying pork
to Mohammedans.

No matter the friendly fucking,
the fuckyouüping
remains, and so as lions
lie with lambs,
the groyners lift back up
frozen boulders spilled in sun.

Righteous rammsteins may don sandals
over socks, yet unlost
Teutonic expertise
exports to abattoirs abroad,
blueprints shared by
sadomasothebest and Sletvard Juice.

And this is their white flag:

Dear pro-immigrant Germans. I just hope, I am wrong, and You are right. But i wish to see, You will weak up in time, and Your stupidity will not force Your children and grandchildren in the future to look for asylum…because they will be not safe in own country… We, Europeans must stick together, or We will be in next century only a memory. Wishing You best luck.