Sunday, June 21, 2009

don't you dare

. . .

Please don't stick me on any list with Russell Edson.

I've seen my name included alongside Edson's in groupings by various critics and commentators re the USAPO scene, and it gripes me . . .

because I have zero in common with that wealthy gentleman Russell Edson.

Rich poets, upperclass poets, huh—

Edson, Louise Gluck, William Matthews, C.K.Williams, Mark Strand, Richard Howard et al,

money rolling out of their childhoods,

cash propping their educations at the best schools,

trustfunds supporting their poetic practices—

I hate them all. I curse them for a penny—

They are nothing to me.


uh this first poem

the horror


I've whined and complained earlier on [a previous] blog about the demeaning coverage my last theoretically-real book received from Poetry (Chicago) Magazine.

Until that hackpiece appeared in early 2005, they had not critiqued any of my books for 33 years, in fact since the May 1972 issue where my book “Nights of Naomi” was savaged as part of an omnibus review by Charles Molesworth.

Anyway, between 1972 and 2005, between the time of these two bookend reviews by Molesworth and Meghan O’Rourke,

I published what, 6 or 7 books, none of which Poetry Magazine deigned to take notice of.

Different editors, yes: Daryl Hine in 1972, and Christian Wiman in 2005: but it’s interesting to note that the magazine’s editorial policy toward me did not change in that time.

Just as they used the 2005 “review” to spread vicious gossip about me, so they did the same in 1972. The 1972 review set the tone for the 2005 one.

Here’s an excerpt from the Molesworth:

“Rumor has it that Knott’s habit of giving his birth and terminal dates together originated when he realized he could no longer face the horror of a poetry reading he was scheduled to give.”

So, here’s the sequence:

in 1972 Poetry Magazine prints a rumor that says in effect that I’m afraid to give (I can’t face the horror of) poetry readings—

And guess what happens then, after that "review":

My reading invitations dry up.

No one asks me to read. From that point on, for the next 3 decades,

I barely manage to get an average of about one reading a year.

I receive almost no requests to give readings because everybody knows,

everybody has heard that I can’t “face the horror of a poetry reading.”

Hey: it said so right there in Poetry Magazine.

After they printed that nonsense

—oh yes, they labeled it a “rumor,” but everybody knows how such floaters spread and take on the facsimile of fact—,

after Poetry Magazine used the venue of what was ostensibly a book review to, to,

what’s the term I’m looking for . . . well, what would you call it?

One thing's for sure: after that May 1972 issue appeared, my reading career was destroyed.

There is an alternative truth to this tale:

perhaps my "reading career" was aborted/ thwarted not by this review in Poetry Magazine,

but by the fact that no one liked my crummy lousy poetry enough to invite me to read:

or by the fact that I was no good at giving poetry readings—

I can remember hearing, as I eavesdropped from bathroom stall or around a corner, audience members commenting about how boring and bad my reading was:

I can never remember being praised by anybody in those minuscule groups who attended my infrequent readings,

those scowling scattered-seat-fillers who scuttled so quickly once I had grimaced out my final words—

. . . in fact, the more I think about it, I realize that the reason I didn't get invited to give any (or hardly any) readings

was simply that people hated (hate) my poetry, ergo why should they invite me to read . . .

In fact, I probably got as many invitations as any other fourth-rate poet like me.

Just one question: Poetry Magazine has in its long history published hundreds maybe thousands of reviews of poetry books:

have they ever, in the text of any of those reviews,

printed rumors and gossip about any (living) poet other than me?

Is there a single instance, can you remember a similar case

where the reviewer paused in the course of his or her consideration of the book under review,

parethetically paused to share some precious oddment of rumor gossip about the poet whose work they were supposedly appraising—

can you recall another such incident in the pages of Poetry Magazine?

I haven’t read all those reviews, so I can’t say for sure, but I think not.

I think I am the only one to have been so honored.




What is the motivation of those print poets who insert a lot of dead space into the body of their poems?—

Who spread a poem out over ten pages when it could be printed on two or three with normal stanza and section breaks.

Have you seen the poems that do this?

A few piddly words or phrases appear, clumped or sprinkled on the length and width of each page:

these fragment/segments are surrounded or interspersed by as much blank empty white space

as the size of the book format affords.

Surely their purpose is to use up as much paper as possible, to kill as many trees as they can.

Isn't that why Michael Palmer puts double spaces in between his lines,

so his poems can fill up twice the space that regular poems use, so they can fill up twice the number of pages,

and use up twice the amount of paper, and thereby kill twice as many trees?

(And oh yeah: double his bibliography)—

(Oh but of course it's not

*ecocidal egomania*

that causes these poets to claim more page-space for their poems than others use,

no, it's an esthetic choice doncha know.)


make it nuke


T.S. Eliot (looking back in a 1953 lecture) asserted that "[T]he starting-point of modern poetry is the group denominated 'imagist' in London about 1910." If that's true, then—

modern poetry begins with Pound's "In a Station of the Metro":

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

Pound's note on this poem quotes a trans. of a haiku ('The fallen blossom flies back to its branch: A butterfly.') by Arakida Moritake (1472-1549).

The fallen blossom soaring back to its branch: the petals on a rain-wet bough.

Both images kigo-ize Spring, the season of beginnings.

Or rebeginnings: April is the cruellest month [because it] stirs dull roots with Spring rain.

Roots and branches. Fore and after.

After World War Two, the foremost movement of new poets to emerge in Japan are called the Arechi, or Waste Land Group. . . . (their eponymous magazine is founded by Tamara Ryuichi). . . .

The fallen blossom flies back to its branch: the Bomb falls on Hiroshima: its vaporized bodies rise: the apparition of the crowd is now a cloud that will rain nothing but ends upon us.

No rebirth, no emergence of poetry movements. The cycle does not continue. The nuclear winter gives way to no Spring, no point of departure . . .

Eliot: "The point de repère usually and conveniently taken as the starting-point of modern poetry is . . ."


he ain't my dada


Here's how Geof Huth, at "dbqp: visualizing poetics" starts his review of a Kenneth Koch book:

Thursday, June 24, 2004
The Impossible Comics of Kenneth Koch

I’m not that familiar with Kenneth Koch’s poetry. I often see him as the spiritual father of Bill Knott, though Koch’s lines are generally more rambling and freer than those of Knott’s.


This is really bizarre.

Koch didn't like me and vice versa.

Koch admirers would gag at the above statement.

If anyone claims Koch is my "spiritual father," I demand a paternity test.



Jeffrey St.. Clair, over at the "counterpunch" site (edited by St. Clair and Alexander Cockburn), said, in a review of one of my books (Laugh at the End of the World, that "Knott resides on anarchist left."

In the same review, he also says "Bill Knott is the funniest poet since J.V. Cunningham,"

though—surely—he wouldn't have said that if he had read

PoChiMag's latest humor-winner Alfred E. Goldbarth!

here's the quote, with source:

Bill Knott is the funniest poet since J.V. Cunningham and, like Cunninghan, at times his humor can have a deliciously vicious edge. Whereas Cunningham (Exclusion of Rhyme) seems to have been something of a rightwinger, Knott resides on anarchist left.