November 29, 2009

do i dare to eat a peach?

really, this poem is so much more awesome than the wasteland. ezra pound said that with the simile that compared the sky to "a patient etherized upon a table," modern poetry was changed forever. i love the lines where the speaker seems to unravel a bit: "The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,/ And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,/ When I am pinned and wriggling on a wall,/ Then how should I begin/ To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?/ And how should I presume?"
the whole poem is so mysterious. it's full of alienation and mobility, like you're walking through a haunted house and peeking inside each bizarre room. everything is anthropomorphized. love song? who is j. alfred prufrock?

i grow old. i grow old. i shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

November 16, 2009

he slit a zoo full of animals

something really special happened today.

i was reading arda collins' book on the metro north this morning. it was picked by louise glΓΌck (swoon) for the yale series of younger poets prize. as i was reading the book, i realized i really can't read exciting poetry in public anymore because i just want to jump up and down/punch myself in the knee/clap and make other weird noises. another thing i really want to do is grab people and say, "please let me read you this one poem!!!!!!!" on second thought, maybe i should just go ahead and grab the stranger and force him to hear the poem. maybe then people will stop with all this "i don't understand poetry" business. that would make a great documentary actually. me, reading strangers poems in public places, punching myself in the face because the poems are so good, and trying to redeem their poor souls. i'll be like one of those jesus guys on the subway. yeah!
but anyway... back to arda. i'd never read this book before, and let me tell you i was loving it. as i was reading it i kept thinking that i felt some connection to her, like we have a lot in common. then i got to a poem, and one part of it seriously blew my mind. she put a sandwich in her poem. BUT NOT JUST ANY SANDWICH. my staple, go to sandwich that i always get in delis when i can't get down with an egg and cheese. and i quote,
exciting indeed!!!!!! i was freaking out. i bounced up and down in my seat. i'm sure it was really embarrassing, but i didn't really notice. do you know that i love sandwiches? of course you do, because 1) everyone who reads this blog is probably my best friend, and 2) who doesn't love sandwiches!?!?!?! i have entire relationships built on the appreciation of the sandwich, as many of you know and have experienced first hand. and there it was. my preferred sandwich. in poetry form. look at how she pairs the sound of the "tomato" and the "mayo" and then also the the "swiss" and the "lettuce." from now on i will always order the sandwich by listing its components in the most poetic form i can think of. it was too much. it was all too much. other things arda and i have in common are that she is scared of her microwave and she hates showering (there i said it.) i am going to write to her and let her know that i love her book and i love her sandwich.

here's a poem.

It Is Daylight
by Arda Collins

I called my house from a pay phone
down the street before I went home.
I needed to check on the empty situation.
It was daylight,
still here.
My shadow looked large and unschooled.
The sidewalk was yellow in the sun.
I was thinking that I wasn't anyone
and that my future would be a trajectory
leading further away.
The lilacs were out. They looked like a detail
from a bucolic story or tableau
where people are naked, eating picnics,
grapes, kissing, and drinking wine
while playing musical instruments. It seems made up,
but it's not. It must be based on a world
something like the one that's here while I'm walking.
Many houses are abutted by hedges.
I don't like this, but I wouldn't take them away.
The hedges are often surrounded by beds of woodchips.
The sight of them is a silent story about the dead.
I was filled with yearning
to sit against the side of the house
between two hedges.
I don't know how to pray but I would try.
I felt somber and excited about to go into my house.

Some people come down the street.
They're very dressed up.
I can see them from my bedroom window.
My house is quiet,
as though it isn't mine
but was given to me
by something other than myself.
The dressed up people cross the street
and walk under the lilac trees.
They look very nice and awful. The young woman
wears a peach dress with cream-colored heels.
She's with a young man wearing a dark blue suit
and a turquoise shirt. How unfortunate
that they have to go out in the daylight
and see themselves
out among trees, streets, and open sounds.
Walking through my house, I love the doors
best. Waking up the other day I went downstairs
and banged my face into the doorframe
of a closet. It hurt. It was an accident,
but I ended up in tears.
Now with this bump on my forehead,
I'm grateful.
I wash the dishes, clean the bathroom, vacuum.
Over the course of several days
I feel satisfied that my apologies have run themselves out.
I don't know when it's time to stop
but eventually I do, and I do other things.

November 15, 2009

for every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you

today i went to a free poetry workshop in the bronx. the workshops are every sunday, and you don't have to sign up in advance, or any silliness like that, which i like. they also come across really great people to teach them. the workshops are mostly for generative purposes, meaning the teacher throws out exercises or prompts and you work on those. i'd never been to one before, because i kind of figure i get all the poetry i really need up at sarah lawrence, but i have two poems "due" on tuesday and hadn't written any, so i figured this was a good time. and you know, i did write and it was a good group and all, but one thing was sort of strange to me.

in the beginning of the workshop the teacher passed out index cards and we each had to write one secret that related to ourselves or not, one secret that did relate to ourselves, and one thing that we're afraid of. so then we passed them back in and he read them aloud, but before he read them aloud, he told us to write down the ones that we found striking as we heard them. so we did. and then afterwards he told us to write starting from the lines we liked.

now WAIT A MINUTE. this was weird. the poem that i wrote didn't end up using any of the lines that i had heard off the index cards but some people who read their poems at the end had my lines in them, and i didn't like it. all of a sudden you see your "secret" in someone else's poem, but also, like, fuck! that's my line motherfucker!
yeah, alright. it's ok because everyone took what they took and made it their own, but i had a sort of uncomfortable feeling about the whole thing. like i just wrote down three lines for other people to steal them. whatever.
i know poetry is all about stealing. i steal all the time. sometimes my friends say things that wind up in my poems, but i only do this to my nonpoet friends, because whatever, it's not like they were gonna write a poem anyway. and we steal from the world don't we? blah blah blah BLAH.

the lesson is obviously that the only thing you should ever steal is a hamburger, and even then, even then, man.

happy 50th blog post, you guyz!

November 9, 2009

my vocabulary did this to me

poems in levi's commercials!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
poems in the newspaper!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
it's all happening, you guys!!!

poetry is trickling its way into the lives of many. the ny times op-ed asked nine poets to write something inspired by the fall of the berlin wall, which was 20 years ago today. i like this trend of poetry as a means to communicate about history/current events.

check out the poems here.

November 4, 2009

each year harder to live within, each year harder to live without

anyone happen to catch this article by daniel nester? it's about poets in new york city. siiiiigh.

what nester writes about is his own experience as a young poet in new york. basically his bubble burst. he moved out of new york and stopped writing poetry. and who does he blame for this? other new york poets. siiiiiigh.

here's what i think. i think he shouldn't project his own experience onto every other poet living in new york. i think he blames the fact that he stopped writing poetry on the social scene that surrounded it, but why should you renounce poetry because of the social scene that surroundsit in one city? here is one part of the article that got to me:

"In New York, it is a self-licking ice cream cone that depends on untalented poets to keep the system going. The more paranoid poets regarded their skills as a threat to those toward the bottom of the Ponzi scheme, whose worship of higher-ups were not adequate enough to rise a level on the Poetry Chain of Being."

um, ouch? and also, what? can you really just say that about Poetry In New York? wait, self-licking ice cream cone? is that some kind of, uh, euphemism?

"I wanted to embody what one of my heroes, Allen Ginsberg, called candor; I wanted to give Too Much Information. But TMI was out of fashion; what was in fashion was aloof disengagement.... So I became a mimic, lived in fragments, forged together lines like everyone else was doing, played word games, engaged in what Keats calls, "unpleasantness without exciting any momentous depth of speculation," and crossed my fingers, hoped I would pass as one of them."

i believe it was rilke, and probably a lot of other poets, who said that you don't become a poet because you want to, you do it because you have to. i know that this is a romantic notion, but it also makes complete sense to me. so i have to conclude that daniel nester was never a poet. i think he really, really wanted to fit in with the new york poetry scene, but ultimately couldn't make a space for himself, and he blames it on the "scene" because his poetry wasn't trendy enough. basically because his poetry was meaningless, and he was trying to be like everyone else, it must mean everyone else's poetry was meaningless. a likely story, nester.

so he moved out of new york. problem solved, right? get on with the program! no, he still stopped writing. of course the new york poetry scene is frustrating. have you been to the bowery poetry club lately? sometimes i just want to shudder, other times it's great. when i go there, i just like to listen. talking to people is hard. i have to put on a poetry mask and everything i say through the mask has to sound imaginative and fresh. siiiiiiigh. but then you see them get up there and do an open mic, and it's oh yeah, why did i care about impressing these people in the first place?

the thing is, real poets are freaks. the good ones, in my experience, always seem the most socially awkward and twisted. so why get hung up on what it's like to go to a bar with other poets? i'm looking to insert some clever joke here about poets walking into a bar...

3 poets walk into a bar and start to cry....
2 poets walk into a bar. first poet says "i'll have a beer." second poet says "i'll have a scotch." bartender (also a poet) says, "nice anaphora."

ok, these are terrible. someone throw out some good poets in bar jokes.