Monday, June 29, 2009
Saturday, June 27, 2009
An Excuse for Not Returning the Visit of a FriendMei Yao Ch'en [1002-1060]Do not be offended becauseI am slow to go out. You knowMe too well for that. On my lapI hold my little girl. At myKnees stands my handsome little son.One has just begun to talk.The other chatters withoutStopping. They hang on my clothesAnd follow my every step.I can't get any fartherThan the door. I am afraidI will never make it to your house.[trans. Kenneth Rexroth, from One Hundred Poems from the Chinese (New Directions, 1971).]
Friday, June 26, 2009
A small R.I.P. for the era of Farrah and Michael Jackson.
No, I didn't have the haircut. Yes, I wanted it.
Yes, I bought Thriller when it came out. No, I haven't listened to it for 20 years. But the Jackson 5's "ABC" and "I Want You Back" are two of the greatest pop songs ever.
from the digital re-release of The Reckless Pedestrians Walk the Dog
1. Empty Bed Blues
We debuted in a dorm basement
painted dirt green,
with low ceilings and dollar beers.
All our songs were covers of Carpenters tunes
that the lead singer had learned in high school chorus.
We were trapped by the past—
the effervescent desires
of Casey Kasem,
the static buzz of AM radio.
What options did we have?
You hear folks bad-mouth the Carpenters,
but try to sing like Karen
if you’re a fat nineteen-year-old boy
with glasses and a narrow range.
Nothing works out the way you hope,
as we discovered that night,
the room emptying out fast, folding chairs
parked against the walls, blank as a bus station.
It was depressing,
but we’d read enough Kafka
to accept misfortune.
Confusion is chronic;
and anyway, only the Japanese
are doing Carpenters covers these days.
2. Seven Day Fool
In the eighties the natural place for a girl
in a band was on bass,
except if you were the Go-Gos.
We were past that Linda McCartney-and-Wings shit.
In our yellow-curtained apartment
we embraced our instruments like babies,
trying to force three chords
into the lush harmonies
of Burt Bacharach.
The cat yowled; neighbors quarrelled
far into the night. Only
when the drummer began fiddling
morosely with the zipper on Sticky Fingers
did the answer come to us,
the last notes of “Close to You” fading
swiftly into the forgotten past,
Mick Jagger’s threat to remove his trousers on stage
rising like a phoenix—oh, we were young,
and in love, and happy to take ours off too;
and we could play all the notes!
It was like seeing Rothko for the first time,
then turning to the nearest stranger
What the fuck have I been doing with my life?
3. Look What Thoughts Will Do
The guitarist stored a tattered copy
of On the Road in his case
and randomly read aloud from it
between sets. The bass player
toiled through every break;
her fingers toughened like a farmer’s,
while the guitarist, pacing,
intoned Kerouac at the ceiling:
“ . . . arc, pop out, brake in, run. . . .
Somewhere along the line the pearl. . . .
‘Terry,’ I pleaded with all my soul. . . . ”
The roadies kept quitting,
the bathrooms smelled like puke,
and even “Freebird” can get you down
on a rainy night in March,
far out in the Amish wasteland.
It was the gulag, but we were alive:
catching the last train to the city,
dropping our cases on the stairs,
rolling into bed at dawn
with the crows outside just starting
to quarrel and the garbage men
slamming their loads
in the tender morning light.
4. Love Is the Drug
And here we all send our thanks
to Jon Bon Jovi for his good advice
about shopping-mall acoustics,
which served us so well in the years
spent traveling from one Ground Round
to the next, bodies fueled by Coors
and dry yellow popcorn, fan club asleep
on the jukebox, the rest of us pounding out
ballads at two a.m. like this was the last
honkytonk on earth, fluorescent lights
faltering off one by one: bulldozers
could be moving in from the west
to destroy the place by morning,
and only electricity would save us—
AC bleeding through the wires,
guitar solos fervent as Jesus,
drummer hunched over, dripping with sweat,
and the lead singer taking off his glasses
to rub his eyes, calm and exalted,
like Socrates waiting for hemlock.
5. Baby Let’s Play House
Some say Walk the Dog is the worst album we ever made.
But intonation aside, this was a record about love:
the purest, most pop-driven kind—
four happy people in a band, kissing each others’ hands
on the train, waking up at noon,
eating cornflakes without milk and playing our record collection
in alphabetical order because that kind of asceticism
would make us great.
Listen to every Boston album, and you’ll soon learn
how much eleven-year-old boys crave beauty,
in whatever surreal form.
We had the big picture in our heads—
rock-and-roll as undergraduate abstraction:
life spent cheek to jowl,
the guitarist’s head in the drummer’s lap,
King Lear parked upside-down on a speaker,
unread, hissing and muttering under his breath,
all of us singing “Sweet Jane”
as if Lou Reed had written it with us in mind—
screeching so loud that the little girl next door
banged on the wall in ecstasy
while her parents, on their knees,
begged her to think hard, honey, and please,
please, remember where she’d hidden the Moped keys.
[from Boy Land & Other Poems (Deerbrook Editions, 2004)].
Thursday, June 25, 2009
from On Poetry & CraftTheodore Roethke"There is a kind of teaching shorthand: a possibility of suggestion which can be far more powerful than the ablest analysis: for analysis is, after all, a negative function. . . . To make them feel and think simultaneously. To make the thought as real as the sight and smell of a rose: the growth of the student who can be reached in this way is much more rapid."
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
JanuaryThe winter sunlight when it gleamsSo cold and fair;Makes silver rivers of the roadsAll straight and bare,And singing birds in misty treesAre no more dumb,They sing of warmer days; I wishThat they would come.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
"A poem would be no good that hadn't doors I wouldn't leave them open though.""Our ruling passion is to mind each others business""Everything that is a thing is out there and there it stands waiting under your eyes until some day you notice it.""Mrs Eleanor Roosevelt says every girl should learn to carry her liquor.""From politeness to trees I always rounded a circle to the right instead of to the left when I got lost in the woods."
Monday, June 22, 2009
For most people, let alone for most writers, it’s enough to deal with our own pain in this world. Even as we grieve for others, we remain central to ourselves, the first-person character of our own stories.
Baron Wormser is not this kind of writer. Beginning with the publication of his first book, in 1983, he has undertaken that most difficult of tasks: he has struggled to inhabit other people’s suffering and disbelief and confusion and panic. In his poem “The Suicide’s Father,” the grief-frozen father tells himself, “I have/Committed a crime but I am not sure/What it was./It is a crime of meals, presents,/Postcards, worries, lullabies.”
Let me tell you: such lines, in their simplicity, in their familiar, gut-wrenching details, are not easy to write. But this kind of clarity appears everywhere in Baron’s writing: in his poems, in his stories, in his essays. This is not to overlook his wit, nor his irony, nor his scathing intelligence. But even at his most ironic, as in his Carthage poems, which deal with a fictional, incompetent, and strangely familiar U.S. president, he finds ample room for sympathy and affection. When President Carthage notices that his women advisors “tend to be a little flat chested,/Probably from being so brainy,” we comprehend not only his foolishness but also his innocence. I go back to Baron’s poems again and again precisely for this reason . . . because they are incisive and exact and because they are deeply, viscerally humane.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
from Letters on CezanneRainer Maria Rilke (trans. Joel Agee)It's strange to walk through the Louvre after two days in the Salon d'Automne: you notice two things right away: that every insight has its parvenus, upstarts who make a hue and cry as soon as they catch on,--and then, that perhaps these aren't particularly illuminating insights at all. As if these masters in the Louvre didn't know that painting is made of color.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
1. How does stockpiling ammo relate to copying out all of Paradise Lost?2. Why do women throw frying pans in public places?3. What are the root reasons behind the Harmony boys' inability to win basketball games?4. How do elementary-school students manage to perpetually confound their teachers?5. Is it true that an old AC/DC album can equal love?6. Why does growing older make everyone cry?
Monday, June 15, 2009
Eclogue IIIAll the long day, rain
down the blurred glass,
gardens succumb to forest,
half-ripe tomatoes cling
hopelessly to yellow vines,
cabbages crumple and split,
but who cares?
Let summer vanish,
let the tired year
shrink to the width
of a cow path,
soppy hens straggle
in their narrow yard,
and every last leaf
on the maples redden,
shrivel, and die.
Nothing needs me,
today, but you,
cupping the bones
of my skull. Alas,
poor Yorick, picked clean
as an egg.
How rich we grow,
bright sinew and blood,
my eyes open, yours
[forthcoming in How the Crimes Happened (CavanKerry Press, 2010)]
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
The Triple FooleJohn DonneI am two fooles, I know,For loving, and for saying soIn whining Poetry;But where's that wiseman, that would not be I,If she would not deny?Then as th' earth's inward narrow crooked lanesDo purge sea waters fretfull salt away,I thought, if I could draw my paines,Through Rimes vexation, I should them allay.Griefe brought to numbers cannot be so fierce,For, he tames it, that fetters it in verse.But when I have done so,Some man, his art and voice to show,Doth Set and sing my paine,And, by delighting many, frees againGriefe, which verse did restraine.To Love, and Griefe tribute of Verse belongs,But not of such as pleases when 'tis read,Both are increased by such songs:For both their triumphs so are published,And I, which was two fooles, do so grow three;Who are a little wise, the best fooles bee.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
FROST PLACE POETRY READING SERIES – SUMMER 2009
All readings are free and open to the public
Annual Conference on Poetry and Teaching
June 28-July 2 – Readings at 7:30 PM
Sunday, June 28 Dawn Potter and Baron Wormser Monday, June 29 Elizabeth Powell Tuesday, June 30 Geof Hewitt Wednesday, July 1 Charlotte Gordon
Sunday, July 5 – 2:00 PM
Storyteller extraordinaire Willem Lange
and Poet in Residence Rigoberto González
Frost Place Advanced Seminar
August 3-7 – Readings at 8:00 PM
|Monday, Aug 3||Favorite Poems Reading: |
Seminar Participants read poems
written by other poets
|Tuesday, August 4||Jeffrey Harrison|
|Wednesday, August 5|
Jeanne Marie Beaumont
and Rigoberto González
|Thursday, August 6||Martha Collins|
|Friday, Aug 7|
Group Reading by Participants
in the Advanced Seminar
from SongJohn DonneTeach me to heare Mermaides singing,Or to keep off envies stinging,And findeWhat windeServes to advance an honest minde.