Friday, September 28, 2007

Leaving the Live Poets Behind For a Moment -

Robert Graves may have been something of a fruitcake - what with his multi-colored goddesses and his strange affair with Laura Riding (who literally moved in with him and his first wife, Nancy and their family. A bizarre bit of threesome which eventually drove Laura into a failed suicide attempt before the first wife bowed out and Laura and Robert packed up and moved to Majorca. ) Still in all, as with countless other dead poets - he shines every bit as brightly today as he did all those long years ago.

However, knowing the history of Robert, Laura and Wife #1 - it kind of puts the following poem in a whole new (and somewhat creepy) light, doesn't it?

The Cool Web

Children are dumb to say how hot the day is,
How hot the scent is of the summer rose,
How dreadful the black wastes of evening sky,
How dreadful the tall soldiers drumming by.

But we have speech, to chill the angry day,
And speech, to dull the rose's cruel scent.
We spell away the overhanging night,
We spell away the soldiers and the fright.

There's a cool web of language winds us in,
Retreat from too much joy or too much fear:
We grow sea-green at last and coldly die
In brininess and volubility.

But if we let our tongues lose self-possession,
Throwing off language and its watery clasp
Before our death, instead of when death comes,
Facing the wide glare of the children's day,
Facing the rose, the dark sky and the drums,
We shall go mad no doubt and die that way.

Robert Graves

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Resignations and Accusations Reign

at The Poetry Society of America. Are we or are we not entering a period of McCarthyism and rampant unrepentant conservatism?

Not only that but just who in the hell is John Hollander and why haven't I heard of him before today?

Whoever-he-is, he apparently has made some remarks over the years which some voting board members considered to be racist. Other board members said they felt that such comments were not characteristic of Mr. Hollander’s views or had been misinterpreted. Mr. Louis-Dreyfus said that even if the comments were representative, they were irrelevant criteria for judging the Frost Medal, just as he would argue that Ezra Pound’s anti-Semitism should not detract from the literary appreciation of his work.

Mr. Louis-Dreyfus (whom I've also never heard of) runs an international commodities trading and shipping firm and dabbles (how the hell does one "dabble" anyhow? Either you do something or you don't) in writing poetry, said he resigned partly to protest what he regarded as an “exercise of gross reactionary thinking” among the other board members who left in the wake of the award to Mr. Hollander, a retired English professor at Yale.

Regardless of all that, I'm miffed because I thought I knew all the damn suspected and/or well-known bigots in the poetry world.

The point is - Mr. Louis-Dreyfus is right. Judging a person's character is different than judging that person's poetry. One should have no bearing on the other.

Be that as it may, I probably wouldn't buy a book of Mr. Hollander's poems for the same reason I wouldn't buy a portrait of a clown from John Wayne Gacy or stand in line at the book store to buy the latest copy of O. J. Simpson's new book (regardless of the fact that he won't ever collect any royalities from it) or wear a pair of Michael Vick running shoes or (although Dan disagrees with me) go stylishly jogging while sporting a light gray hoodie bearing the name of Bill Belichick or pay good money to listen to Don Imus on the newest pay-for-listen radio show - simply because there are too many other damn good clown portraits, novels, radio shows, running shoes, jogging hoodies and poetry books out there to choose from.

The way I figure it - why encourage stupidity when it's so simple (and so much cheaper) to avoid it?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

If You Think There's Honor In Poetry

read what Seth Abramson and Quincy Lehr have taken the time to write about Heather McHugh and Joesph Salemi. Then tell them both "Thank you." What a heart-breaking, myth-busting, gut-sickening confirmation of everything you've already suspected about the poetry world!!

Seth Abramson


Quincy Lehr

When you're done reading, ask me why I no longer care to submit poetry to anywhere or anyone.

Tell me if you're still comfortable doing it yourself.

Why do we tolerate this sort of crap in poetry? Would sports fans turn a blind eye if Bill Belichick suddenly pulled Tom Brady out of the QB position and stuck his recently-graduated-from-high-school nephew in the Super Bowl? Would we tolerate a member of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee awarding himself the prize? When President Bush consistantly appoints no one but his best friends and highest campaign contributors to high places, tell me, honestly, what is it that even his die-hard supporters understand explicitly?

I'll tell you what I think - I think that President Bush and his Republican cronies have nothing on The Live Poet's Society. Nothing at all.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What Hemingway, cummings, Hammett and Stein Have in Common

This is quite interesting. I have no idea what it means, but it's interesting.

I've got some thoughts, of course, but nothing's really formed enough for words as of yet.

My biggest wonder is this - what comes first? The fascination with death/chaos or the proximity to it? Do certain people end up writing about it after they've inadvertently seen too much of it or do they deliberately seek it out beforehand?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

No Winter Wheat For the Working Wicked

Ugh. Scratch the entry below. Dan and I will not be presenting anything come November. Reality bites and it bit us in the ass again. Work commitments prevent our running off on a poetry jaunt for a long weekend at that particular time. Sometimes having a job is just a minor annoyance and sometimes it really sucks.

On the plus side, we've promised ourselves a different weekend away - with no poetry commitments, no family commitments, no work commitments. We will commit to nothing but a decent hotel room with room service, a hot tub, a fifth of gin, a bottle of vermouth, a bunch of olives and one another. (I'd say a bottle of coconut scented bubble bath, too, but I tried that once in Pittsburgh and found out the hard way that bubbles and hot tub jets just don't mix well. Or rather, they mix way too well.)

Meanwhile, it's Sunday - are you ready for some football????

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Winter Wheat Festival of Writing

It's offical, Dan and I will be jointly presenting a program at Winter Wheat Bowling Green University in Bowling Green Ohio, on November 10, 2007, tentatively called "Poetry By and For the Common Man" focusing on poetry written by poets without formal education. We also hope to offer discussion on how poets can still manage to obtain a poetic perspective without the benefit (or drawback) of a classroom setting.

It's a topic near and dear to my heart for obvious reasons and I'm excited to have the opportunity to share the concept.

Sunday, September 02, 2007