Monday, December 21, 2009

creatively unoriginal

*
—is Lowell’s “Imitations” a model for the cre­atively uno­rig­i­nal era some perloffs and profs are hail­ing the advent of . . .

if all verse con­sists of vari­ant recom­bi­na­tions of past verse, as the first pla­gia­rist Orpheus liked to claim, then

aren’t Lowell’s bril­liant recon­fig­u­ra­tions of Leop­ardi et al

to be espe­cially admired and emulated—

but can anybody/everybody follow his exam­ple with equal success—

or is it Lowell’s unique expertise/craft/handling that makes these trans­la­tions so brilliant—?

(con­cep­tion or exe­cu­tion? con­tent or form? Koons or Hock­ney?)

you can’t down­load his tal­ents, or at least not yet—

as brilliant young poet and critic Michael Rob­bins observes of Lowell: “he could sculpt a stanza with a pre­ci­sion of tone, dic­tion, imagery, sound, & meter. . . ”

maybe stanza-​sculpting soft­ware will per­form that task for poets in the near future?

let the app do the cot­tage indus­trial dirty­work of composition—

com­put­ers can already prob­a­bly write more skil­fully than most poets . . .

*

Thursday, December 17, 2009

geeze wheeze

*
. . . the disputations of eras—

often when we older poets look at the verse of those younger we're befuddled or hostile—

on those rare occasions a young poet asks me to write a blurb, it puzzles me why: why would they want the approbation of someone my age: really?

(it may be cynical, but I can't believe they honestly want my approval in any case—)

*
It's not just that I don't have the energy or time to "keep up" with their work: it's that if I were their age I wouldn't care what that 70-year-old fade
what'shisKnott thinks,

so if I wouldn't care, why should I?

*
(Hey, yo-po, if I like your stuff, that should warn you there must be something wrong with it—)

*
The merciful dispensations of time allow us oldsters to be placated and distracted somewhat when considering the horrible fact of our oh so imminent demise, by looking at the young and gloating to ourselves, Well I certainly wouldn't want to be in their shoes! I'm glad I'm not like them! etc.

A poem about it from a couple years ago:

THERE'S THE RUB

Envying young poets the rage
You wish you could reverse your night
And blaze out born on every page
As old as them, as debut-bright.

Child of that prodigal spotlight
Whose wattage now is theirs to wage—
What gold star rite you wish you might
Raise revised to its first prize stage.

But listen to my wizened sage:
He claims there's one disadvantage
Should time renew you neophyte—

There'd be one catch you'd hate, one spite:
Remember if you were their age
You'd have to write the way they write.

*
Obviously the young differentiate themselves from their predecessors in order to further their own development and sense of worth,

but might their rebellions or deviations also be motivated by kindness and pity for those of us who must soon die—

by unselfishly choosing to alienate and outrage us,

they help us dose our daily dread: how palliative the muttering placebo of contrastation with, and ritual protestation at,

their wrongness—

but do we appreciate how compassionate this errancy may be?

***

Thursday, December 10, 2009

maybe book after a no way book

*
I'm trying to edit together a book of my poems "for young readers", which I'm hoping to complete, but—

it's proceeding from a collection of "whimsical" poems which I was unable to collate or cohere—

something of my confusion regarding the latter can be seen in the "afterword" I wrote for it:

*
Backass Note

My whimsical poems are for the most part conceptual rather than linguistic. . . I'm too inhibited and puritanical to indulge in sound for sound's sake. I admire those who can write nonsense verse, but that whole wibblety wobblety world of wordplay is beyond me. . . (Roger McGough for one can do both the sound and the sense equally brilliantly; I envy his genius.) Puns, if they occur, are usuallly derived from metaphor rather than sound-association; indeed, I am usually surprised when people point out a "pun" in one of my poems, because I rarely intend them; they're mostly inadvertant. I make a conscious effort to work from the synonym: my thesaurus is always at hand. For me the content comes first; plot is always uppermost in my thoughts: though after that's set, formal concerns of style or sound-patterns may evolve in a further elaboration.

What do I mean by whimsical? Is it a category separate from others, a genre? Its subject matter is often trivial: kites, balloons, umbrellas, barbershops or hair in general, honeymoons and drinking fountains. And maybe the whimsical poem never tries to be funny (!), it's too complacent for that. Halfway between a-mused and be-mused. Smug-like, it doesn't care. It doesn't show off with insouciance and lyrical dandyisms (for the most part). Indeed, it often has an air of earnestness, though towards what end is not always evident. It thrives on its arbitrariness, but it does seem to have a purpose in mind. It doesn't want to be ironic or satiric, I think. But even if I have somewhat successfully defined the whimsical poem here, have I managed to (ever) actually write one?

.....

Thursday, November 26, 2009

american (sic) hybrid

*

A quote from Holderlin:

"There is only one real quarrel in the world: which is more important, the whole or the individual part."

Poetry, or the poem?

Process, or product?

In practice, poets do seem to make a choice between the two—I'm hardly the first to note this . . .

I'm sorry, but I don't think this "one real quarrel" can be ended or resolved by proclamation—

Of course you can always assert that your "American [sic] Hybrid" has transcended this argument,

and sell your illusory empty amalgam,

market your scam (or dream) . . . but?

***
As to which option is preferable, surely it depends on the personality of the poet?

"The whole" or "poetry" worked for O'Hara,

while "
the individual part" or "the poem" worked for Larkin.

You can't say either of them made the wrong choice.


***

Monday, November 23, 2009

nother reason I quit the Pobiz


Michael Robbins on my malfeasance:

*
(see my earlier post on this: http://knottprosepo.blogspot.com/2009/11/plus-ca-change.html . . . )

*
This is one of his many imprecations against me, as featured on his blog:

"Some of the Lulu books are prefaced by two pages of anti-blurbs (”[Bill Knott is] incompetent” & so on), many of them wrenched from the context of appreciative reviews, by the likes of Christopher Ricks . . ."

I can't find my xerox of the Christopher Ricks review (The Massachusetts Review, Spring 1970 issue), but have ordered another one which should arrive in about a week and which I will then scan in its entirety onto this blog as a jpeg file, where anyone can make their own judgement as to whether it is indeed an "appreciative review" . . .

To say that "many of" the quotes I print in my LULU books are "wrenched from the context of appreciative reviews" is untrue—one or two of them may be wrenched thus, though I would dispute even that, and would claim that even those one or two are not inaccurate in spirit—

and then there's this: in many of the LULU books I also include two pages of favorable blurbs and excerpts from reviews which actually are appreciative—

Does Michael Robbins consider these latter also fraudulent?

All the quotes I use are sourced, and all those sources can be checked out by anyone who wants the truth,

though I suspect that these sensationalist accusations of my malfeasance in this matter

are a paparazzian fanfaronade so coquettish in its hyberbole, so gossipy-glicksome,

that few if any will bother to seek out and verify the mere factual.

*

*

Sunday, November 22, 2009

UCAL TRIUMPHS

*
I assume the decision of the National Book Award judges to give the poetry prize this year to a book published by the University of California Press

was meant to be a rebuke to those UCal students who are denouncing tuition increases and the elimination of their services at that school—

the judges are in effect chiding these protesters:

Ingrates! look at what your money goes to support: great works of verse like this! You should be proud and thankful that your money is used to publish 50 dollar volumes like this one.

Isn't that why the judges made their choice: isn't it intended to admonish those rebellious youths and their lack of appreciation for the value of the cultural capital produced by this university?

Surely the judges have voted yea to the established priorities of UCal, in particular the budget decisions made in the past, which granted such wise funding to its poetry series.

The judges have taken their stand in support of the status quo—

the judges have issued a censure against any student

who might object to wasteful expeditures by academic authorities responsible for fostering artistic extravagances like the one being honored on this occasion—

*
It seems obvious that the NBA poetry judges opted to pick a book published by a university press

(any UnivPress book, it didn't matter which)

as a show of support for the efforts of such presses,

some of whose poetry series are in danger of being curtailed or cut altogether in the current financial crisis,

and of course as a protest against the defunding of those presses and those poetry series.

(One guesses the next National Robogenetics Awards will be decided along similar lines.)

***
..

Saturday, November 21, 2009

...


support ERGO or die

*
From Derek Humphry
To: All ERGO supporters

November 2009

Oh dear! This is another begging letter! - But a nonprofit organization such as ERGO has to live.

In the past you have contributed generously, or purchased our literature, and we thank you sincerely.

Sales of our books and DVD pay for themselves, with a modest profit margin, but our overheads are still there -- technical support, equipment upgrades, internet and telephone fees, utilities, data processing, printing, postage and so on.

Starting in l993, ERGO is the premier distributor of news about right to die: 2 web sites, a blog, and a popular News List which you probably get. Also on Wikipedia, Twitter, Facebook, Scribd and DocStoc. Without a news stream our cause will not flourish.

ERGO has no staff, no office, but of course it must outsource some of the work that cannot be handled from home. And every day people with problems and queries approach ERGO for help - and usually get it.

We live in difficult economic times, but if you feel able to make a tax-deductible contribution to ERGO it would be a vital addition to the progress of the right-to-die movement. (Tax ID # 93-1118314)

Thank you.
Derek Humphry, President, ERGO
(Euthanasia Research & Guidance Organization)

ergo@finalexit.org www.finalexit.org

Make checks out to:
ERGO, 24829 Norris Lane, Junction City, Oregon 97448

To give via the internet, use ERGO's Bookstore
http://www.finalexit.org/ergo-store
and click on the very last box which says 'Contribute to ERGO'
Quick Link
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
http://www.finalexit.org/ergo-store
Contact Information
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
ERGO
24829 Norris Lane
Junction City, OR 97448

////

xxx


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

more of the same

*
Brilliant poet-critic Michael Robbins has posted a note about me on his blog,

in which he ridicules and mocks me for having to self-publish my books . . .

Robbins is a very gifted young poet whose first collection when it appears is sure to be hailed as the debut of a major talent, and whose prowess as a critic can be attested by the fact that his reviews/essays are featured regularly in major periodicals like the London Review of Books and Poetry et al—

Robbins finds it amusing that I have been blacklisted by editors (see my verse blog to view scans of just a few of the rejection notices I've received),

and that I have been reduced to the humiliating status of vanity-poet—

(If a legitimate publisher for my poetry books could be found, I wouldn't be publishing them myself, would I—no-one wants to suffer the ignominy of being a vanity author)—

Of course Robbins is just another of the many authorities who over the years have delighted in sneering at me, in jeering the pariah —

I've gotten used (after decades of it) to being ridiculed and scorned for my failures.

It's par for the course of my career.

**
To cite just one example among many,

imagine this scenario:

Poetry Magazine publishes a review of the latest book by Robert Pinsky,

in which the reviewer takes the opportunity to report a rumor he's heard, a rumor which states that Pinsky is terrified of giving poetry readings—

imagine the response such a review might evoke—

but when Poetry published a review of one of my books where the reviewer did exactly that:

where the reviewer (after summarily dismissing my verse) printed a rumor that I was "terrified" (the word he used) to give poetry readings—

When Poetry allowed its reviewer to include, in his ostensible review of my book, that false rumor about me,

what happened? Nothing. Did they receive letters of protest or outrage? Of course not.

Poetry Magazine knew they could print any untruth, any rumor about me, and no-one would care, no-one would object—

and no-one did.

Indeed the only consequence that followed Poetry Magazine's news-report that I was afraid to give poetry readings,

the only consequence was this: all my reading invitations dried up—nobody invited me to read anywhere anymore.

Like I said above: par for the course.

**
So I'm used to being condescended to—the contempt and disdain expressed by Robbins

is nothing new in my life. It's just more of the same.

I am tired of the endless derision directed at me from every quarter en masse—

though of course the worst thing about it, is that I know I deserve it:

the world is right to condemn and curse me, to ban my work and shun me away, ostracize me—

its verdict is not unjust.

***

Sunday, November 15, 2009

please note

*

Sam Hamill is experiencing some serious financial hardship at present—medical treatments not covered by insurance, an inability to teach, a very modest pension. The poets Marilyn Hacker and Alfred Corn have been raising funds to help. Donations of all sizes will be appreciated. They can be sent care of Alfred Corn to: P.O. Box 214, Hopkinton, RI 02833 U.S.A.

***
(note: reprinted from the BAP blog)

*

beautiful poem by Tom Clark

*
this is impressive:

http://tomclarkblog.blogspot.com/2009/11/white-moon.html


...

the flow, the melodic momentum, the words in their intricate meaning(s),

it's all done with such subtle touches, in perfect control of his technique—

Clark seems to be posting poems as he writes them,

and this latest one is a brilliant example of the pleasures his blog presents—

...

magnificent poem by Amy King

*
here's a poem I read a year or so ago, and it's kept a presence in my mind since . . . :

it's by Amy King:


MEN BY THE LIPS OF WOMEN

I’m in love with a man who doesn’t love me
with the pages of the book he sees from.
He makes love through his syllabic ink, a salted thunder,
leaves me to my own delirium tremors.
I gouge out his eyes, break the yolk across his shoulders,
disembowel the nectar from his liver.
His toxins become a cherry blossom wine.
He sounds in the brain’s eagled hollows
of a soft guitar from a Spanish café
among the mountain peaks in nightshade.
He cannot hide, no matter how many goats he scares
or biscuits he throws at the hunger.
The mother of everyone calls him.
His fright is an orb of Hold me, I’m yours,
crisp and curled with age’s yellow
and the godless sunburn you love across your nose.
I am that love you light yourself with
and my gender is powerless in this.
We are metered only by our own machines,
while the book is a clock that forgets her mechanics.
Her hands can count but would rather wipe warm dew,
the pall from your lips and kiss the lids
of your eyes from sleep. Here am I, is he,
with yoke and shadow removed, she is, her in me,
apart from you, man reading men by the lips of women.

*

—this is magnificent writing: the images are vivid and fresh, the rhythms/sounds are evocative and ear-catching . . .

if I had a quibble, it might be the poem's periodic structure. Like those three two-line sentences at the beginning—this is too static and monotonous perhaps. There are too many sentence stops. They halt the impetus of the emotion, I think.

I don't understand every metaphor, but that doesn't matter much in my appreciation.

The last phrase "man reading men by the lips of women" echoes of course the title,

and (here's another quib)

is such an interesting and potentially rich concept that I wish she had used it (or variations) as a refrain/echo/recurring trope within/throughout—

Petty qualms aside, this is a poem I've found engaging and well worth rereading.

**

Saturday, November 14, 2009

repost—this originally appeared here in May 09

disappreciation
*

The Shampoo (From The Nightingales) by David Wojahn

How long it must have been, the girl’s hair,
cascading down her shoulders almost to her waist,
light brown and heavy as brocade: the story I’m

remembering of N’s, remembering as my own
hair’s washed and cut, the salt-and-pepper
cuneiform to frill my barber’s smock.

Arts and Science is expanding. The wall
to the empty shop next door pulled down
and a dozen workmen slink improbably

on scaffolds butting the dusty ceiling,
cacophony and plastic tarps, the whirr
of drills that mingles with the dryers’

jittery hums, the scissors’ flash,
veronicas of clicks, the coloring, the curling,
the antique cash register,

melodious with its chime. And best,
the liquid gurgle of hands massaging scalps
the row of sinks, twelve hands and six

wet scalps in a line. I’m next, and leaning back
(let me wash it in this big tin basin,
battered and shiny like the moon)

to the hiss of warm water cataracts
and Andrea’s long fingers. But I’m remembering
the girl in N’s story, the girl

she was at six. This is Birmingham,
1962, Rapunzel-tressed girl
whose parents are more glimpsed than known,

the Family Romance, mid-century American-
style, the child fetching ice
for the father’s drink, the far-off lovely

scent of mother’s perfume. More glimpsed
than known, separate phantom lights
edging from beneath closed doors

those nights she couldn’t sleep. Not the Birmingham
of sit-ins, the firehoses trained on
placard-waving crowds. But the Birmingham

of Saturdays when Anne-Marie would arrive
as always on the city bus by six,
before the parents’ cars would pull away.

Then the cleaning until noon, the cooking smells.
And then the big tin basin filled
at the backyard faucet by Anne-Marie,

the long brown fingers in the child’s hair,
the water sluicing, warm from the garden hose,
the soap suds almost flaring, the fingers

ten spokes over scalp and basin, their paths
through the hair and down the child’s back,
the synesthetic grace notes of the hands,

the stitchery, the trill, the body electric,
the fingertip pressure exquisite as it sings,
the braille of here and here and here.

David Wojahn, “The Shampoo (from ‘The Nightingales’)” from The Falling Hour. 1997.


*
Narrative poems like this one exasperate confuse and (increasingly) infuriate me.

First of all, what's Wojahn doing in this hair salon getting his hair shampooed, why doesn't he just shampoo it at home in the shower like most people? He seems to be a regular customer here, since he knows the hairstylist by name (line 23) . . .

In other words, he's doing something most of us don't do, and in reality

most people can't afford to have their hair shampooed at a salon,

he's doing something unusual but he doesn't acknowlege that fact, nor does he offer any justification for this abnormal practice——he's not a moviestar for chrisakes, so why—whatfor?

The poem is from a 1997 book, so presumably this hairparlor scene occurs in the mid '90s, in retrospect a kind of golden age of prosperity for some if not most in the US, post-Cold War surplus and surfeit, the Clinton years of flush expenditures—

the salon's business is booming, its chairs are filled (lines 18/19),

profits are rife and Professor Wojahn can you blame him wants to look as prosperous and spif as your average tv-anchor,

coiffed to the max—

*
:

How long it must have been, the girl’s hair, [WHAT GIRL? WHERE?]
cascading down her shoulders almost to her waist, [CASCADING? CASCADING? YOU'RE REALLY GOING TO USE THAT WORD?]
light brown and heavy as brocade:[CASCADE/BROCADE: I GET IT] the story I’m


remembering of N’s, [N? WHO THE FUCK IS N? N? WHY AREN'T YOU TELLING ME WHO N IS?] remembering as my own
hair’s washed and cut, the salt-and-pepper
cuneiform [CUNEIFORM? CUNEIFORM? YOU'RE REALLY GOING TO USE THAT WORD TO DESCRIBE YOUR HAIR CLIPPINGS? JESUS CHRIST FUCK A DUCK HOW PRETENTIOUS CAN YOU GET] to frill my barber’s smock.

*
cascading

cuneiform

—on the poem goes, throwing in these absurd words, absurd because wrenched out of any authentic context and used to hype up/poeticize the content:

"veronicas of clicks" etcet . . .

Veronica: a word used in bullfighting, the term for a particular cape-move by the matador, transformed here by Wojahn to describe the thrusts of the scissors as they cut (lines 13, 14):

which makes Wojahn the bull, and Andrea his stylist the toreador about to impale him:

cuneiform / bull . . . it's positively Minoan. Ancient sacrificial rites in Cretan caves . . . (is that where the "nightingales" comes in, from Greek mythology?)

*
And where's the "story" these first few inept "set-up" lines have promised? when does the poem get to that story,

and what the hell happens in that story? Hunh? "N"

[AND, AGAIN: WHO THE FUCK IS THIS "N" ANYWAY? FOR CRYSAKE, WOJAHN, IS THIS POEM EVER GOING TO TELL ME WHO "N" IS?]

told a story about what?——

"the Family Romance, mid-century American- / style, the child fetching ice / for the father’s drink, the far-off lovely // scent of mother’s perfume."

How many cliche phrases can you pack into one sentence, how much flat prose can you stick into one poem, but is THAT the "story"?

No, no, that's not it, the poem is more than half over,

and the "story" it's promised in the beginning has still not appeared, so what is the "story"?——

AND WHEN IS THE STORY GOING TO START!

—why would any reader put up with such indirection and procrastination?—

I give up. Is THIS the goddamn story:

on Saturday nights Anne Marie would wash my hair

——is THAT the "story" told by "N"?

—the "story" told to Wojahn by the mysterious "N" on what occasion I wonder, I'm trying to imagine the scene where Wojahn and "N" are swapping shampoo memories . . .

And why the hell is the poem so duplicitous in its narrative: why does it make the reader think for half of its length that "the girl" and "N" are two separate characters (and to confuse things even more, we have "Andrea" in line 19)——

what's the point of misleading us like that?

—Why are "Andrea" and "Anne Marie" spelled out as whole names, and "N" is only an initial: what's the point? What does that mean? What is the goddamn significance of that? What does Wojahn want the reader to understand about this difference in nomenclature—? It must be important, it's too blatant to be an oversight . . .

I give up.

*
The 3rd and 4th stanzas, are they nonsequitir: that "Art and Science" building, presumably an outreach project of Wojahn's own university, what's it doing here? What's the point? Its construction noises, the "whir of drills" forcing, bulling their way into the act—? What's the message here: 'Observe my power: the architectual thrust of the institutional majesty I represent': another reinforcement, a reiteration of his professorial status, virile blaring expressions of his clout. Look on my works ye mighty and despair—

I hate this poem. Everything in it is specious pretentious and disgusting to me.

. . . the unattributed quote from Elizabeth Bishop in the 7th stanza: arrogant, smarmy, nudge nudge wink wink to the reader, Yes you and I, we know those lines don't we, we the literate—

*

—I just don't get poems like this. Trivial idle anecdotes, their prosaic plodding lines larded with out of the vestpoetrypocket words like cuneiform and veronicas, stuck in like the raisins in raisinbread,——

fuh! phu! fugh!

*

Friday, November 6, 2009

Hilda Morley unjustly forgotten poet

*
Complaining that dead poet X has been unjustly forgotten and neglected is just pointless blather—

if you think Hilda Morley (or whoever) deserves rescuing from oblivion,

then do it: contact the executor of Morley's estate, the copyright holder, and work with them—

If you can't find a publisher willing to assume the costs of publishing and promoting a big Selected (or even a Collected),

nor a publisher to publish a book of essays about Morley,

then start a Morley appreciation website with a Paypal donation option and solicit money to help fund the cost of publishing that Selected (or Collected),

and also solicit essays etcet from poets and profs (and poet-profs) who admire Morley and are willing to donate their time and effort in writing such appreciations—

And when you collect enough donations to help fund the book's publication, work with a publisher to do that—

Not just a big Selected or Collected Poems, but also an accompanying volume of essays devoted to Morley—

If you really wanted to revive interest in an obscure poet, wouldn't you take such steps?

Whining on your blog that Morley (or anybody else) has been "unjustly forgotten" is easy,

too easy, and too self-congratulatory:

Look at me, I care about this unfairly neglected poet! Aren't I admirable for drawing attention to this injustice! (Emile Zola got nothin' on me)—

Put your money where your mouth is, put your time and effort into practical schemes to bring Morley back from the abebooks abyss,

and I'll respect you—

I won't agree with you that she's worth rescuing, but I'll respect you—

As I respect the editors of the Larry Eigner Collected soon to be issued:

price of the Eigner? — 150 dollars!

I wouldn't pay 1.50 for an Eigner book,
but so what—

As I wrote in a post below, I don't believe there are any unjustly forgotten 20th Century USAPO—

the myth of the unjustly forgotten dead poet

is simply porno for poor versifiers who know how soon they'll be forgotten after their own deaths—

***

Thursday, November 5, 2009

pebbles

*
I never try to do what those in the other arts do, composers, painters, and them,

I only try to do what other poets do,

except when other poets try to do what those in the other arts do,

in which case I don't.


*

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

unjustly forgotten USA poets of the 20th Century

*
I can’t think of any unjustly for­got­ten USA poets of the 20th Century because there are none—

attempts to res­ur­rect poets unread in their life­times are futile, no matter how much money uni­ver­sity presses waste in the effort, or how many pages the Norton adds onto each edition—

and no matter how many of us vainly delude ourselves it’s possible—

poets' self­ish rea­sons for per­pet­u­at­ing this myth are obvious—

the only poets posthu­mously recov­er­able are those whose work wasn’t avail­able before their death (Dick­in­son, Rimbaud, Plath et al)—

*
Hope springs eternal and all that, but one can't fatuously indulge in fantasy

all the time, one has to sober up sometimes—

To take as an example, my own particular case:

No one reads me now, ergo no one is going to read me a decade from now when I'm dead—

I can't console myself with the illusion that "posterity" will see merits in my poetry that contemporary readers and critics didn't—

it doesn't happen that way.

It never happens that way.

And to pretend/profess otherwise is simply another of the endless lies failed poets pathetically plaster our wounds with.

**
Afterthought: you may point to the recent two-volume Norton Mod/Con to refute my contention that obscure poets aren't recoverable,

and yes, there are some additions to that canonical anthol

which might qualify—

but while the Norton may be infinitely expandable (especially when it's tranferred into a web-based entity),

semesters and student brains aren't—

and when the next batch of po-profs careerwardly restore the reps of other po-oblivo's,

and this latter slate of rescuees has to be wedged-in to the mix,

what then? Just as James Stephens and others were excised to provide room for Loy/Niedecker et al in the current edition of the Mod/Con,

won't some (and eventually most) of the recent insertees have to be similarly sacrificed in the future?—

In the long run, as each succeeding edition is forced to include other regilded relics,

eventually all or nearly all of your dug-up oldies will be axed and will fade once more to their former forgotteny.

*
Niedecker (or Jack Spicer et al) is less a poet than a pornstar,

an autoerotic fantasy dreamed up to satisfy the jugjug desires of justly neglected poets whose only hope to ever be read is this absurd fetish fantasy of posthumous reparation—

***

Friday, October 30, 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

PAUL ZUKOFSKY AND THE AVANTGARDE'S ANGER

**


it's strange, this furor and anger directed by Goldsmith and the other avanties at Paul Zukofsky for asserting his ownership under the copyright laws—

isn't he simply claiming what others enjoy, other heirs of literary estates?

why is he any different, any less entitled than the heirs of Robert Lowell?

I'd love to publish a volume where all of Lowell's "imitations" were collated chronologically with notes, but!

I know the reaction to Paul Zukofsky has something to do with the history of avantgarde esthetics and its bizarre delusions of outlawry—

or perhaps the contempt and disregard directed at him has other historical precedents, left over from eras when a
Zukofsky was granted less rights than a Lowell——

no, it's probably not antisemitism, per se,

but rather the outrage felt toward a traitor to one's cause—

our comrade has betrayed us, the avanties cry,

hurt by what they feel is disloyalty to the holy tenets

of their faith . . . they feel wounded by his, Paul Zukofsky's, renunciation

of their sacred creed ...

As always the faithful hate an apostate more an unbeliever,

a heretic more than a heathen.

**

Thursday, October 22, 2009

rich white straight male poets need not apply

*
here's Charles Simic on the NYRB blog:

"No recent book of poetry has been reviewed as widely and as favorably as Frederick Seidel’s Poems 1959-2009. It seems as if every major newspaper and literary magazine on both sides of the Atlantic has already published an admiring piece on the poet and we can expect more accolades to come. “Thank God for Fred Seidel,” Michael Hofmann concludes a review of the book in September issue of Poetry. Adam Kirsch agrees, calling Seidel perhaps the best American poet alive. Even the critics who have expressed a few reservations about his poetry agree that he’s never boring. . . ."

**
Since the publication of Seidel's book in March, it has been widely recognized as the most important volume of verse to appear in 2009—

as Simic summarizes, the Seidel has gained a critical consensus unmatched among this year's crop of poetry books—

so why, one wonders, is "Poems 1959-2009" not on the list of noms for the National Book Award?

**
here's the NBA list, as selected by judges Mei-Mei Berssenbruge, A. Van Jordan, Cole Swenson, and Kevin Young:

Rae Armantrout,
Versed (Wesleyan University Press)

Ann Lauterbach,
Or to Begin Again (Viking Penguin)

Carl Phillips,
Speak Low (Farrar Straus and Giroux)

Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon,
Open Interval (University of Pittsburgh Press)

Keith Waldrop,
Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy (University of California Press)

**
Where's the Seidel book?

Critically acclaimed as the book of the year, and what, it's not even on the NBA shortlist—what's with that?

I asked C. Dale Young about this on his always-interesting blog "Avoiding the Muse" and here's his answer to me:

C. Dale said...

Sometimes the NBA doesn't consider collected poems or selected poems. The committee of judges decides that before they begin reading. Maybe this year the judges decided not to consider Collecteds.

**

So it seems the "committee of judges" for this year's NBA poetry prize

has "decided not to consider Collecteds,"

thus ensuring that the Seidel book is out of the running . . .

**
I hold no brief for Frederic Seidel, he's far from one of my favorites,

but this egregious decision by the NBA judges to preemptively exclude his book is, I think, scandalous—

how absurd, that this extraordinarily celebrated and admired book should be banned by the NBA because of, well, what else can you call it but bias?

**
I sympathize with the judges: last year's NBA went to a rich white straight male poet (Robert Halfhass),

so of course for the sake of diversity they were loath to give it this year

to an even richer white straight male poet,

no matter how much praise his book has received—

"Poems 1959-2009" has been overwhelmingly hailed and lauded since its publication on March 31, 2009—

hasn't it been established as the
the Poetry Book of the Year by many of the most eminent critics of our time (see quotes below): hasn't their advocacy elevated this book to an unique status and significance?

so it's no wonder that the NBA judges opted to preclude it, and via a technicality to render it ineligible—

their cowardly decision is understandable.

After all, they probably said, the bastard is sure to cop the Pulitzer and other prizes—

but for the judges to use this sneaky, underhanded act of entailment—

to gerrymander Seidel out of contention—

they can 'disqualify' the elephant in the room all they want, but that won't stop him from trampling them—

**

The National Book Award for poetry goes to the best book of poetry published in the previous 12-month period,

except when it doesn't.

Except when the judges manipulate the rules and change the criteria to suit their agendas.

Shame on the National Book Awards organization for allowing bad-faith ploys like this, for winking at this kind of double-dealing machination.

**
Frankly, the NBA Po judges are chickenshit. They're afraid to reject Seidel straightforwardly, so they adopt this pusillanimous bullshit rule of not considering selecteds/collecteds, and hide themselves behind it . . .

What are they hiding from?

In short, this:

“The most frightening American poet ever—phallus-man, hangman of political barbarism—Seidel is the poet the twentieth century deserved.”—Calvin Bedient, Boston Review

“He radiates heat. It is apparent that he has asked himself frightful questions and has not dodged the implications of their equally frightful answers . . . A master of metaphor.”—Louise Bogan, The New Yorker

“Beguiling and magisterial.”—Joel Brouwer, The New York Times Book Review

“Profoundly beautiful . . . The writer willing to say the unsayable.”—Philip Connors, n+1

“The best verse out of the United States since whenever.”—Joe Fiorito, The Toronto Star

“Among the two or three finest poets writing in English.”—Alex Halberstadt, New York

“[Final Solutions] seems to me one of the most moving and powerful books of poetry to have come along in years.”—Anthony Hecht, The New York Review of Books

Area Code 212 [is] our new Waste Land, as monitory and radical . . . as Eliot’s poem was in 1922.”—George Held, The Philadelphia Inquirer

“A triumphant outsider in American poetry . . . He takes risks utterly unthinkable, even as merely mutinous provocation, in an academic workshop.”—Ernest Hilbert, Contemporary Poetry Review

“[Life on Earth] is an exemplary book . . . One of the best by an American poet in the past twenty years.”—Michael Hofmann, The Times Literary Supplement

“One of the world’s most inspired and unusual poets . . . His poems are a triumph of cosmic awe in the face of earthly terror.” —Hillel Italie, USA Today

“In American poetry today there is no one with Frederick Seidel’s sheer ambition, comprehensive sense of our times, sophistication, nerve and skill . . . One of the most vital and important poets we have.”—Lawrence Joseph, The Nation

“The excellent table manners combined with a savage display of appetite: this is what everyone notices in Seidel. Yet he wouldn’t be so special or powerful a poet of what’s cruel, corrupt, and horrifying had he not also lately shown himself to be a great poet of innocence.”—Benjamin Kunkel, Harper’s Magazine

“In the desert of contemporary American poetry, Frederick Seidel’s work awaits the weary reader like an oasis.”—James Lasdun, The Guardian

“Here is the new kind of visionary, the person who really wants to change the world fast, the person who believes in something.”—Adam Phillips, Raritan

“Frederick Seidel is a ghoul, and he has produced this nascent century's finest collection of English poems.”—Michael Robbins, Chicago Review

***

>>>>>>

p.s.:

here's C. Dale Young in response to my post above:


Blogger C. Dale said...

BK,

I offered a postulate, a hypothesis. I did not offer a reason. I do not work for the NBA, nor did I contact them about whether or not they are considering Collecteds for this round. I simply posted what I have heard from people in the past. You are trying the NBA and its judges in the Court of Public Opinion using my guess as evidence when it is still just that, a guess.

8:38 AM


**

jeepers, I wonder what Young means by "court of public opinion",

the 2-3 nobodies that might glance at this blogsite once or twice a week?

Young himself never links to or mentions any of my posts here, so I'm surprised he imagines anybody else is reading and responding to anything on these pages—

**


Saturday, October 10, 2009

NOBEL IDIOTS


*
Once again, the Nobel Prize for Literature has gone to an idiot.

How many years in a row now is it that the Swedish Academy has lauded idiots with this ultimate honor.

Here's some idiot in the NYTimes:
"Should Ms. Oates and Mr. Roth, Mr. Pynchon and Mr. DeLillo never win a Nobel, however, they will be in exalted company. Among those who never won the Nobel Prize: James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Leo Tolstoy and Marcel Proust."

The Times idiot doesn't mention a single poet: natch.

Pound, Frost, Stevens, WC Williams, Auden, Bishop, Larkin: just to list past poets writing in English who should have won Nobels and didn't.

What a disgrace that the prize has not gone to living poets like Ashbery, Bonnefoy, Tanikawa et al (make your own list) . . .

The latest idiot:—Helga Muller: well, if they wanted to give it to a woman writer in her middle years of age, it should have been the great Carol Ann Duffy—

but Duffy is a poet, and poets only get the Nobel on those odd-once-every-decade-or-two occasions

when the idiots at the SwedAcad can't agree on which idiot to choose,

so it seems . . .

*

I'm using the word "idiot" in its original meaning, from ancient Greece.

To quote a sentence in
the Wordsworth Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (p. 561)—from its definition of "idiot":
'The Greeks have the expressions,

"a priest or an idiot" (layman),

"a poet or an idiot" (prose-writer).'



**

Thursday, October 1, 2009

*

when I was young I used to mail inscribed copies of my books to poets I admired, until i started finding those profusely-signed copies in used bookstores and realized that of course those famous poets disposed of the books i sent them as quick-riddancely as all the other junk freebies they received . . .

at which point i decided to cut out the middleman:

i still inscribed my books to famous poets but rather than mail the books to those famous poets, i would instead simply leave the books inscribed to them on the shelves of secondhand bookstores or in Goodwill bookbins,

and if you look on abebooks today you'll see booksellers hawking those copies inscribed to famous poets

at ridiculous prices, prices based not on the merit of my books or me, but based on their "association" with those famous poets . . .

anybody who buys my dead tree volumes from abebooks is a sucker anyway when they can read and or download all my work for free at Lulu.com via the link on this blog!

*
But there was one famous poet i really did continue to mail inscribed books to:

James Tate . . .

—until, that is, one of his ex-students confided to me what Tate did with the books I sent him—

(and they deserved the fate he dealt them:)

he used them as door-stops—that's right,

he would wedge them in under the door of his office at UMass Amherst,

(He liked to kick at 'em as he went in and out)

and he would point them out to his students, saying isn't that a good way to recycle wastepaper?

Plus it had the added pedagogical benefit of acting as a lesson warning to those students:

'See where you'll be if you don't do what I tell you to do!

You wanna be a failure, you wanna end up like that, that knottwad?'

*

p.s.

some of those books on abebooks i may have actually mailed to those famous poets who then jettisoned them to the used books store etcet,

because although i resolved with native hue to stop sending out such inscribed books, the reality heft of the new book in my hand sometimes sicklied me o'er with cowardly hope that famous poet A or X might, might this time be receptive to my obsequiously offered tome . . .

so some of those association-books may be "authentic", but which is and which ain't is anybody's guess . . .

*

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

*
from today's Harriet blog at the PoFound:

Rebecca Wolff

Name That Goon

It took me about two seconds to name the unexpected speaking voice of poet/critic/professor Joshua Clover as I flicked past the NPR station. I flicked back. He was being interviewed because today he’s going on strike! Or at least walking out. We wish him well.

09.24.09

...

I don't read my horoscope every day, but happened to notice today's: "Your offbeat sense of humor isn't always totally appreciated . . . "

so I didn't Harriet my immediate response to the above,

which was to make a few jokes:

Couldn't UCal make up for the budget cuts by jacking up the price of all the poetry books published by UCal Press?

Clover's "The Totality for Kids" for example could be raised from 45 dollars to 145 dollars!

The extra revenue would surely solve their cash shortfall . . .

It's interesting that UCal Professor Clover's book of verse is published by UCal Press . . . is that part of his contract, do you think? Talk about sweetheart deals.

(Many incarcerates of California's educational system probably couldn't locate their state on a US map, so I doubt they would understand the meaning of the word, "nepotism.")

....
Speaking of raising the price of poetry books,

Stanford University Press is about to publish the Collected Poems of Larry Eigner,

which will cost you 150 dollars if you want a copy—

I wouldn't pay 1.50 for it myself, but—

Eigner is another one of those avantpoos whose books nobody but a niche wanted to read when he was alive,

who is now purportedly rescued from his (well-deserved) obscurity by the usual elitist scammers—

students at Stanford are presumably happy to fork over the dough to pay the costs of this extravagant Eigner boondoggle . . .

Universities which lavish their money on wasteful prodigalities like this Eigner book, deserve to have their funding slashed—
....

Monday, September 21, 2009

*
this is impressive:

http://www.kickingwind.com/readings.html

....

in the last ten/fifteen years, I've been invited to give/have given maybe four readings . . .

with my persona non grata status in the Pobiz, I guess it's amazing I got even four invitations!

...

actually, when I was younger I did receive invitations to read my poetry, and I did readings—

but then Poetry Magazine reported that I was afraid to give readings—

yes, before Poetry Magazine stated that I was afraid to give readings,

I was actually invited to give readings of my poetry,

but then of course after Poetry Magazine asserted that I was afraid to give readings,

all such invitations dried up . . .

which is not surprising, really:

I mean, when you know that Poetry Magazine has declared that I am "terrified" (the word they used)

of giving poetry readings,

then it's not too likely that you or anyone else

will invite me

to give a poetry reading,

is it?

The sponsors and organizers of poetry readings all know that I am afraid to read my work in public—they all know it because it said so right there in Poetry Magazine, so it must be true—

ergo it's no wonder they never invited me.

....



....

Saturday, September 12, 2009

...




*
appreciation/transversion: "L'Horreur" by
Andrée Beidas


*
I could find only 14 google cites for her, all of which seem to be a listing of her two (her only two?) books . . . Which seems odd, given the bio note below. (Abebooks has nothing.)


This poem is on page 120 of "Poetry by French Women," edited and translated by Evalyn P. Gill, published in 1980 by Green River Press:


L'HORREUR


L'horreur
n'est pas une mer
dont chaque courbe de vague
serait le dos d'un monstre
ni même un ciel d'orage
qui pleurerait du sang
L'horreur
c'est ce visage
parfois
grimaçant de désir


*
Gill's enface trans. adds a stanza break (assuming the above was printed correct):


HORROR


Horror
is not an ocean
where each wave's curve
would be the back of a monster
nor even a stormy sky
raining blood


Horror
is this face
now and then
grimacing with desire


*
from the "Notes on Contributors" (p. 140):


Andrée Beidas, born in Beyrouth of Lebanese ancestry, is an actress and T. V. star, as well as a poet. She lived in London a year while acting in the Royal Opera. Her poems, which show a sense of the dramatic, are collected in Pages d'insomnie and Et Franchir le reveil.


*
"L'Horreur" is one of the two poems by Beidas in this anthol, which features 33 poets, including 3 who have had book-selections published in English translation: Vénus Khoury, Joyce Mansour, and Andrée Chedid.


*
Some of my efforts at transversion:


THE HORROR


Horror
is not the seashore,
the beach
where each


wave breaks
like a monster
with two backs—


Nor a stormy sky
that rains one's veins dry
with lightning fire—


Horror is a face
displaced, here,
by its grimace
of desire.




/
Horror is a face
above me placed,
fixed in its grimace
of desire.


*
I worked from Gill's trans., and from the original—


the wave's monstrous back made me think of Shakespeare's image for sexual intercourse: "the beast with two backs",


which perhaps Beidas was referencing . . .


My version reverses her ending (her climax) by making that grimacing face the Other's (the lover above me)


rather than the speaker's own: Horror is this face, she says,


this face I see in the mirror as I makeup for a performance—


or does that interpretation rely too much on her bio—


Gill's only comment on Beidas is in the bio note, which says that her poems "show a sense of the dramatic"—


as I remember it, I read the bio note before I went to her poems with curiosity as to what "an actress and T.V. star" would be writing about—


Horror is this face which now and then (parfois) grimaces with desire,


in desire,


on those (stormlike?) occasions when desire occurs—


My version may mirror her mirror.


*
Horror
is not the seashore
where each wave


breaks
beastbacked
like a monster—


Nor even the sky,
where a storm rave
rains its blood dry—


Horror
is a face
out of place


here,
in this grimace
of desire.


*


/
Horror is this
face, its grimace
of desire.


/
Horror is this face
in my mirror,
etched in its grimace
of desire.


/
Horror
is this mirror
here, my face


in this grimace
of desire.


/
Horror
is my mirror,
where desire


paints its grimace
on this face.


/


Horror
is a face
displaced


here,
by its grimace
of desire.


/


Horror
is a face
I occasionally


see,
this grimace
of desire.


/


Horror
is a face
I occasionally


paint as me,
titled "Grimace
of Desire."


/
THE HORROR


Horror
is not the seashore,
the beach
where each


wave's contour
breaks
like a monster
with two backs—


Nor is it shown higher,
in a stormy sky,
where the rain's out-racing / erasing
its blood veins dry—


Horror is a face
above me placed,
grimacing
with desire.






/




Nor is it shown higher,
in a stormy sky,
rain and fire / rain and bloodfire
every blood vein dry— / lightning's vein dry
/ where the lightning's fire
rains each blood vein dry—


Horror is a face
above me placed,
set in its grimace / fixed in its grimace
of desire.






*


The "final" version, as it appears in my collection of Transversions:


After: "L'Horreur" by Andrée Beidas


Horror
is not the seashore,
the beach
where each


wave breaks
like a monster
with two backs:


or a stormy sky
that rains one's veins dry
with lightning fire—


Horror is my face
displaced
by this grimace
of desire.






Note:
I worked from the original French poem, and from
Evalyn P. Gill's English version.


*
*
*
*
this was posted on Edward Byrne's blog yesterday:

As we recall today the events of September 11, 2001, I thought the following poem by Stanley Plumly would be appropriate to bring again to readers’ attention. “’The Morning America Changed’” first appeared in the Fall/Winter 2002-2003 issue (Volume IV, Number 1) of Valparaiso Poetry Review, and it was later published in Plumly’s excellent 2007 collection of poems, Old Heart (W.W. Norton). Although eight years have now passed since the terrible incidents of that infamous day, Stanley Plumly’s fine poem still resonates with its intimacy and immediacy, and its lines remind me once more of the intense rush of emotional reactions caused by those images seen on television screens all around the world.


“THE MORNING AMERICA CHANGED”

Happened in the afternoon at Villa Serbelloni. 

We’d closed up shop on the work for the day 

and decided to make the long descent down 

the elegant stone switchback path into Bellagio 

for coffee and biscotti. It was still Tuesday 

and a quarter to three and a good quarter hour 

to the exit gate or if you stopped to look 

at the snow on the Alps or at “the deepest 

lake in all of Italy” or looked both ways 

at once—as we say crossing a street—five, 

ten minutes longer. This day was longer 

because it was especially, if redundantly, 

beautiful, with the snow shining and the lake 

shining and the big white boats shining 

with tourists from Tremezzo and Varenna. 

And the herring gulls and swallows at different 

layers, shining like mica in the mountain rock. 

And the terra cotta tiles of the village roofs 

almost shining, almost close enough to touch. 

Judith was already in the pasticceria 

and I was looking skyward on Via Garibaldi, 

the one-way traffic lane circling the town, 

when I heard the rain in the distance breaking 

and then her voice through the window calling 

and then on the tiny screen inside 

pillars of fire pouring darkly into clouds. 



—Stanley Plumly 
 


Posted by Edward Byrne at Friday, September 11, 2009

...

**

to me, the only thing that "resonates" about this poem is how bad it is . . .

frankly I find it disgusting—it's not just that the plotting of it is a direct steal from O'Hara's The Day Lady Died,

which I find offensive—

a list of things I hate about this poem would include every line:

"Villa Serbolloni"— what the fuck is the Villa Serbolloni? whose "villa" is it? is it Plumly's? does he own it? is he renting it? is it a hotel, or what?

"We’d closed up shop on the work for the day"— who the fuck is "we"?

Me, Stanley Plumly, and who else?

and what on earth is this line saying, literally I mean—

what work? "we" are working on what?—

("closed up shop"—what does "closed up shop" mean? is this cliche phrase meant to foreshadow the "shop" at the end of the poem:

"Judith was already in the pasticceria"

(and who the fuck is "Judith"?))

.....

these incomprehensible first two lines

are followed by utterly boring and banal descriptive blather—

oh yeah that "stone switchback path" down which we make "the long descent" from our swanky "villa"

is just so elegant, don'tcha know—

jesus yuck.

O'Hara's digressive aporia in the Holiday poem are at least well written/intriguing/interesting, and filled with evocative suspense depending/suspending from the ominous title,

but Plumly's inconsequential trivia is just maddeningly pointless: its "poignancy" is calculated derivative and a worn-out literary device . . .

...

depressing to me that Edward Byrne finds merit in this trite verse . . .

Byrne's book "Along the Dark Shore" is a book I admire and have reread at since its publication—

Ashbery contributed a foreward to it, in which he aptly praises the "particulars" of Byrne's poems . . .

**

contrast Plumly's specious, dishonest smarminess

with a poem by a real poet—this one by Robert Pinsky:

9/11

We adore images, we like the spectacle
Of speed and size, the working of prodigious
Systems. So on television we watched

The terrible spectacle, repetitiously gazing
Until we were sick not only of the sight
Of our prodigious systems turned against us

But of the very systems of our watching.
The date became a word, an anniversary
That we inscribed with meanings–who keep so few,

More likely to name an airport for an actor
Or athlete than “First of May” or “Fourth of July.”
In the movies we dream up, our captured heroes

Tell the interrogator their commanding officer’s name
Is Colonel Donald Duck–he writes it down, code
Of a lowbrow memory so assured it’s nearly

Aristocratic. Some say the doomed firefighters
Before they hurried into the doomed towers wrote
Their Social Security numbers on their forearms.

Easy to imagine them kidding about it a little,
As if they were filling out some workday form.
Will Rogers was a Cherokee, a survivor

Of expropriation. A roper, a card. For some,
A hero. He had turned sixteen the year
That Frederick Douglass died. Douglass was twelve

When Emily Dickinson was born. Is even Donald
Half-forgotten?–Who are the Americans, not
A people by blood or religion? As it turned out,

The donated blood not needed, except as meaning.
And on the other side that morning the guy
Who shaved off all his body hair and screamed

The name of God with his boxcutter in his hand.
O Americans–as Marianne Moore would say,
Whence is our courage? Is what holds us together

A gluttonous dreamy thriving? Whence our being?
In the dark roots of our music, impudent and profound?–
Or in the Eighteenth Century clarities

And mystic Masonic totems of the Founders:
The Eye of the Pyramid watching over us,
Hexagram of Stars protecting the Eagle’s head

From terror of pox, from plague and radiation.
And if they blow up the Statue of Liberty–
Then the survivors might likely in grief, terror

And excess build a dozen more, or produce
A catchy song about it, its meaning as beyond
Meaning as those symbols, or Ray Charles singing “America

The Beautiful.” Alabaster cities, amber waves,
Purple majesty. The back-up singers in sequins
And high heels for a performance–or in the studio

In sneakers and headphones, engineers at soundboards,
Musicians, all concentrating, faces as grave
With purpose as the harbor Statue herself.

......

Thursday, August 20, 2009

how would someone feel

*

here's a quote from Jonathan Mayhew's blog, "Bemsha Swing", date 09-28-2007:

Georg Trakl, César Vallejo, and Juan Ramón Jiménez were not "surrealists." I'm going off the "deep" end next time I see a quote about how James Wright translated "surrealist poets" like these! Whether Lorca was a "surrealist' is at least open to debate. It kind of depends on what your definition of 'Lorca" is. The "American Lorca" was a surrealist. The friend of Dalí, the Lorca of the drawings, might have been. The author of Diván del Tamarit was not.

Vallejo wrote an autopsy of surrealism, explaining its failings. Trakl killed himself 10 years before the surrealist manifesto. How would someone feel if encountering a list of "Language poets like Ron Silliman, Robert Hass, Frank O'Hara, and Bill Knott"? Would it matter that some died before language poetry existed, some hated it? The logic seems to be (1) Robert Bly and James Wright translated Trakl and Vallejo. (2) Robert Bly liked surrealism around this time. (3) Therefore these poets are surrealists.

*

*

—Mayhew's question in which my name appears made another question occur to me:

How would I feel if someone called me an "avant-garde" poet, which Robert Pinsky did indeed call me in his Wash Post column . . . ?

I would feel, and I did feel, hurt and insulted, (and I know Pinsky meant it to be an insult)

since I do not consider myself an avantgarde poet, I have never wanted to be an avantgarde poet, and in fact I dislike almost all avantgarde poetry:—

which means that if Pinsky is right in his aspersion, then I have failed in my ambitions and aspirations as a poet . . .

—Well, that is to say, I mean, I know I've failed: I am a failed poet, period; but if his pejorative label should somehow be correct, it would mean that I've failed even more, even worser than I think . . .

*

reprint

*

I'm reprinting an old post below . . .

(In asserting my civil right to end my life when and as how I choose, I may be transgressing the social norms, which of course poets have never done!

It seems to me that poets especially should appreciate and support this right. I'm not excluding other vocations, sculptors for example could receive such benefits from the Sculptors League, and etcet for every field of endeavor,

but I demand that the Poetic Institutions should aid poets particularly in this matter.

I demand their patronage at this acme of climacteric: they owe me (and needless to say, all other poets like me, we who have overpaid our lives into that metaphorical fund devotionally and are now due our parting pension) that much, they owe me this assisted demise.

This bequeath of death.

I can of course do it via the usual violent methods, but I feel that as a poet I deserve a painless deliverance granted by the Academy of American Poets or the Poetry Society of America or the Poetry Foundation or the Ingram Merrill Foundation or the heiratic Bollingen or similar endowers of poetic endeavor—

Or is it hopeless to expect succor from such evil and corrupt bodies? Must poets form their own self-help groups, auto-euthanistic societies. If those malevolent cabals listed above will not help poets in this quest, must I turn to poets themselves and beg for their individual or collective mercies . . .

I can attend poetry readings with a sign around my neck asking for contributions of the right prescription strength . . . I can write pleas to famous poets begging them to scrape their medicine cabinets for a bolus of panacea, a perk of peace ...

Yes it would be useless of me to protest picket the offices of the Academy of American Poets et al, though I will continue to proclaim that they are in arrears to me, that they are obligated to accord me this compensatory quittance in return for my lifetime of service.)

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Once they get to a certain age, poets should be put to sleep; I don't mean all poets, not real poets, successful poets: but poets like me, second-raters, third-raters, whether run of the mill SOQhack like me or superannuated avant, we should get it in the neck. Our poems are already dead; we might as well follow.

Because what's the point. We're not going to write anything important now: I'm not going to, that's for sure. I'm through, I know it. Why hang on and keep going through the motions, which is all I'm doing now as anyone can see who reads the work I've posted here on this blog over the past year.

But there should be an easy out for old poets who've failed. A graceful goodbye, a painless dispensation. We should be helped to put ourselves away quietly. A "terminal dosage" should appear on our doorsill from some anonymous generous patron of the arts, to honor not our accomplishment but our sustained devotion to the bright cause. We don't deserve a prize for our lifelong failed poetic attempts, but surely by those laborious efforts we have at least earned a charitable bottle of sleepingpills! The American Academy of Arts and Letters could spare an OD, don't you think?

Is it too much to ask the Poetry Society of America and the Academy of American Poets to help euthanize the exits of old failed poets like me? Can't they set up a discretionary fund, an in-house Hemlock Society, to assist and sponsor such acts of mercy? If they had hearts they would.

Seriously, with all the millions the Poetry Foundation has, Christian Wiman can't take a little of that money and establish an Euthanasia outreach program for extinctist poets like me?

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Expunge us from the scene. Wipe us off the screen. We're (I'm) just taking up space and attention that would otherwise and should indeed be going to younger poets.

I'm just taking up space a younger poet should be filling. My job, my publisher(s), my readership (all 12 of them) should be going to that younger viable poet.

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Can no one hear us old failed poets begging for surcease? "Put me out of my misery" we whimper. Have pity on us. Is there no kind Benefactor who will aid our quietus, who will press into our hand the nepenthean vial?

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(The CIA issues suicide pills to its agents. . . the CIA used to fund under-the-table most USA artistic institutions. . . why can't someone from the myriad Academies of American Coldwar Culture call up their former or current conduits in the CIA and say, Hey we got all these old failed poets cluttering up the mis en scene, can't you lend us some "escape-capsules" to help us delete this mess. . . The Academy of American Poets could benefit AmerPo most by scoring cyanide cocktails for terminal poets like me. . . .)

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The CEO of Home Depot just retired with a 210 million dollar payout. I wasn't the CEO of PoBiz Inc, I was only a minor clog in the company: I don't expect 210 million, but can't they at least give me a crummy bottle of barbituates, some goodbye-Bill pills to ease my demise?!

If everybody reading this would scrounge their medicine cabinet and vouchsafe me a tab or two. Or if only some wealthy patron of the arts would find it in their hearts to mercifully anonymously endow me with the Terminal Sedation that would balm and dose me to a close.

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