what poetry are you reading

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed

i'm reading david antin's talking at the boundaries. what poetry are you reading?

mustread guy (schlump), Tuesday, 31 December 2013 17:58 (six years ago) link

it would maybe need a caveat before being uncontroversially included in a poetry thread; maybe it's better in a which erratically typeset books are you reading discussion. i love him talking around marriage, in a private occasion in a public place, & this loose solution he found to wanting to use poetry without reciting poetry, to be able to digress to make himself understood, this long memory of a girl he was involved with in new york & what it is to him now & then the interruption of trying to remember what it was to him then.

suppose you sign another agreement
that is you decide that you have a relationship with each other
which is of such an order that you have
appetite for each other
interest in each other fondness for each other
whatever the word means you love each other so to speak
but you dont have any control of each other
that is
as soon as anybody feels some other impulse he/she goes makes it with whoever he/she wants
you can try that
its difficult
and i know this kind of experience
its the kind of experience that takes away
a kind of evenness
a kind of funny unpressured life
that is
it puts life at the pressure of a romantic adventure
because anything can dissociate into its separate parts at any moment
you can always at the moment of an adventure disappear from somebody else

mustread guy (schlump), Tuesday, 31 December 2013 17:59 (six years ago) link

i'm reading sharon olds too. i can only read one or two a day, they're so intense. & for days on end i would go back & read robert creeley's please. i think i first read it on ilx? it felt powerful to pick it up everyday & need to read it for comfort.

for James Broughton

Oh god, let's go.
This is a poem for Kenneth Patchen.
Everywhere they are shooting people.
People people people people.
This is a poem for Allen Ginsberg.
I want to be elsewhere, elsewhere.
This is a poem about a horse that got tired.
Poor. Old. Tired. Horse.
I want to go home.
I want you to go home.
This is a poem that tells the story,
which is the story.
I don't know. I get lost.
If only they would stand still and let me.
Are you happy, sad, not happy, please come.
This is a poem for everyone.

mustread guy (schlump), Tuesday, 31 December 2013 18:02 (six years ago) link

i'm reading anthony hecht 'collected later,' which has in it the transparent man, flight among the tombs, and the darkness and the light

also p stoked to have a copy of thom gunn's fighting terms on the way.

creating an ilHOOSion usic sight and sound (BIG HOOS aka the steendriver), Tuesday, 31 December 2013 18:12 (six years ago) link

Hypnos Waking - Rene Char Early surrealist who later was a major figure in the Resistance, contains complete translations of 'Leaves of Hypnos' his war journal and Le Poeme Pulverise
Figured Image - Anna-Marie Albiach Translated by Keith Waldrop Rough going with this gal who is concerned with language and the body in a very textural/french way. Post Apollo Press does an excellent job with their books, I'd like to find everything by them.
Mute Objects of Expression - Francis Ponge Translated by Lee Fahnestock One of my favorite french poets who writes about objects or nature.
Early Poems 1947-1959 - Yves Bonnefoy Translated by Galway Kinnell and Richard Pevear Contains a complete translation of 'On the Motion and Immobility of Douve' one of the most beautiful poems I have read. I never tired of him.
Breathturn - Paul Celan Translated by Pierre Joris I also really like Sun & Moon Press, I have a few more Celan books but I'm completely lost, Maybe I need to read German, I took a break from him and Think I'll take him up again this year.

JacobSanders, Tuesday, 31 December 2013 18:25 (six years ago) link

is the motion and immobility of douve a book length thing, jacob? i feel tentative with long poems, & reading what you both read it feels like you're maybe a lil more ambitious.

i just e-mailed my friend & included a jack gilbert poem & was so pleased to find it online, on a tumblr ("stillgreen"), because it's so specific, so gently transportive,

Trying to Have Something Left Over
Jack Gilbert

There was a great tenderness to the sadness
when I would go there. She knew how much
I loved my wife and that we had no future.
We were like casualties helping each other
as we waited for the end. Now I wonder
if we understood how happy those Danish
afternoons were. Most of the time we did not talk.
Often I took care of the baby while she did
housework. Changing him and making him laugh.
I would say Pittsburgh softly each time before
throwing him up. Whisper Pittsburgh with
my mouth against the tiny ear and throw
him higher. Pittsburgh and happiness high up.
The only way to leave even the smallest trace.
So that all his life her son would feel gladness
unaccountably when anyone spoke of the ruined
city of steel in America. Each time almost
remembering something maybe important that got lost.

mustread guy (schlump), Tuesday, 31 December 2013 19:57 (six years ago) link

re celan: i think if german is needed then it's a reaaal fluent german, in which case i'm screwed. i've found that it helps to be able to parse the german, at least, maybe because it helps to sort of justify some of the choices in the english (absent which they can sometimes have a tinge of, come off it, pal to them), some of the patterns of sound and syllabation are audible/visible, etc. —but for the most part i just had to reread repeatedly, and be in the right mood. trying to take in the whole sequence of one of the breathturn sequence books seems to be crucial too.


lately i've reread a little creeley. that's all.

j., Tuesday, 31 December 2013 21:54 (six years ago) link

strangely, I've just been reading Celan as well (selected poems, Hamburger trans.)—having previously been of the I'm completely lost, Maybe I need to read German mindset towards him, I now think I'm starting to "get it" a little more...

confused subconscious U2 association (bernard snowy), Wednesday, 1 January 2014 00:40 (six years ago) link

'On the Motion and Immobility of Douve' is a book length poem, but well worth reading. I've also been reading Edmond Jabes's Book Of Questions which are astonishing and sometimes heartbreaking.

JacobSanders, Wednesday, 1 January 2014 18:54 (six years ago) link

I am only familiar with Jabes via Derrida's essays, which made him seem both brilliant & tedious

confused subconscious U2 association (bernard snowy), Wednesday, 1 January 2014 23:56 (six years ago) link

I think I would like to read what Derrida wrote about Jabes, which book is the essay from?

JacobSanders, Thursday, 2 January 2014 00:53 (six years ago) link

Writing & Difference—I believe the title of the essay is "Edmund Jabes & the Question of the Book"—I read it c.college because I was into, like, Borges & 'postmodernism' & shit, so possibly I didn't totally get it... I remember the characterization of the jew as a fold in history(?)

confused subconscious U2 association (bernard snowy), Thursday, 2 January 2014 02:20 (six years ago) link

in that perloff essay (on gass on rilke) i linked on another thread she takes that celan as an epitome of the translatable

i think i'm going to read some celan this year

i've been failing to read 'dear world and everyone in it' for months. dear world and everyone in it, i don't care about your shitty poetry

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Thursday, 2 January 2014 18:03 (six years ago) link

John Berryman - The Dream Songs
Michael Robbins - Alien Vs Predator

Both discovered via ILB.

o. nate, Thursday, 2 January 2014 18:28 (six years ago) link

in that perloff essay (on gass on rilke) i linked on another thread she takes that celan as an epitome of the translatable

She talks about Trakl too, who is also mentioned by Michael Hofmann is given v high praise in this piece on Kraus/Vienna, so his name has been in my mind lately. Hope to track something down.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 2 January 2014 19:33 (six years ago) link

mr bones vs predator, that would be good

j., Thursday, 2 January 2014 19:59 (six years ago) link

Robbins, of course, was not the first to call Rilke a “jerk.” John Berryman did this scandalously in The Dream Songs[1] (first published in 1964). Robbins has absorbed Berryman’s haunting work, the vaguely formalistic structure (rhythmic lines of varying length/beat and ninja rhymes that ambush the reader), frequent references to movies, songs, art, black culture, multiple narrative identities, uninhibited sexual appetites and the brooding sense of loss that lies at the heart of it all, and nuked it till it has bloomed with an acid glow that (&c &c)

confused subconscious U2 association (bernard snowy), Friday, 3 January 2014 05:02 (six years ago) link

TAKING SIDES: Rilke vs. Berryman-Robbins (aka 'Team Snark')

confused subconscious U2 association (bernard snowy), Friday, 3 January 2014 05:05 (six years ago) link

not reading him right now, but closely following developments in this r s thomas on crisp packets story.

woof, Wednesday, 8 January 2014 16:15 (six years ago) link

three weeks pass...

Michael Robbins - Alien Vs Predator

― o. nate, Thursday, January 2, 2014 6:28 PM (4 weeks ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

did you like this? i enjoyed it at first, but once i 'got it' i sort of didn't enjoy it anymore.

i have the new brutal HOOS if you want it (BIG HOOS aka the steendriver), Friday, 31 January 2014 17:48 (six years ago) link

what adrienne rich should i start with, do people think?

i have the new brutal HOOS if you want it (BIG HOOS aka the steendriver), Friday, 31 January 2014 17:50 (six years ago) link

xp haha

flopson, Friday, 31 January 2014 17:50 (six years ago) link

did you like this? i enjoyed it at first, but once i 'got it' i sort of didn't enjoy it anymore

I still like it, yeah. I take it down from the shelf and read one or two every once in a while. Some I like better than others. The best ones hold up well, I think.

o. nate, Saturday, 1 February 2014 02:00 (six years ago) link

I'm not as familiar with Rich's work as I'd like, so I hope others better informed can advise, but Diving into the Wreck is probably a good place to start; I'm also partial to the long poem "Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law" from the book of the same title.


one way street, Saturday, 1 February 2014 02:05 (six years ago) link

In music I'm attracted to ambitious disasters; in literature I'm attracted to larval states, during which poets and novelists haven't found their voices. The Diamond Cutters and Snapshots of a Daughter in Law are my favorites of hers: I love the tension between the glacial severity of her images and barely suppressed anger (the enjambments are harsh and sharp too).

Bryan Fairy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 1 February 2014 02:19 (six years ago) link

you can find a cheap Norton anthology of her selected works that also includes her (essential) essays

Bryan Fairy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 1 February 2014 02:20 (six years ago) link

November 1968

Stripped you're beginning to float free up through the smoke of brushfires and incinerators the unleafed branches won't hold you nor the radar aerials

You're what the autumn knew would happen after the last collapse of primary color once the last absolutes were torn to pieces you could begin

How you broke open, what sheathed you until this moment I know nothing about it my ignorance of you amazes me now that I watch you starting to give yourself away to the wind

mustread guy (schlump), Saturday, 1 February 2014 05:36 (six years ago) link

wait go http://www.best-poems.net/adrienne_rich/poem-43.html for formatting

mustread guy (schlump), Saturday, 1 February 2014 05:39 (six years ago) link

I don't know, I always found Rich really dry, but it was a talk she gave on Emily Dickinson that made me curious about that author. Because before that I thought Dickinson wrote "little girl scout prayers" as Rich put it (possibly not verbatim), while discussing her image.

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 1 February 2014 17:04 (six years ago) link

(I've at least read one of those Norton selected or collected poems of Rich's.)

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 1 February 2014 17:05 (six years ago) link

Her Dickinson essay is fantastic!

Bryan Fairy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 1 February 2014 17:05 (six years ago) link

I heard a recorded talk she gave, presumably close to the essay, or maybe a reading of it. (I don't think I ever went on to read in print form what she had to say about Dickinson.)

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 1 February 2014 17:08 (six years ago) link

'on lies, secrets, and silence' is a good essay collection

j., Saturday, 1 February 2014 19:56 (six years ago) link

i am going to post a short verse of a joseph ceravolo poem when i get home, get ready for it

mustread guy (schlump), Saturday, 1 February 2014 21:40 (six years ago) link

buckle up

mustread guy (schlump), Saturday, 1 February 2014 21:40 (six years ago) link

my *selected berryman* showed up last night and man

those fuckin sonnets

"Maybe our safeties…come for our risk’s sake."

i have the new brutal HOOS if you want it (BIG HOOS aka the steendriver), Thursday, 6 February 2014 16:26 (six years ago) link

aw i'm just about to pick up dream songs, from the library, cause i never tended to berryman much
& then i read something last week on a blog that knocked me for six, like wow

& i didn't post the ceravolo poem because it was too simple, out of context
like you needed the mess of the whole thing
he is really interesting!, i think. maybe because sometimes i am cruising this sorta in-love-with-eileen-myles wave of tumblr poetry that takes this elemental small-scale form as a template but has this maybe predictable voice?, now, like there's not a solipsism but a fixed reach to it? a formula by which it roams. & the ceravolo is crazy, it's like frank o'hara free jazz, i can't believe he gets so far with so little, eschewing so much, relying on you so much
maybe i'll post it later

mustread guy (schlump), Thursday, 6 February 2014 17:55 (six years ago) link

ah yeah i just read that one last night too, damn near devoured the whole little selected in a few hours

so much to chew on

i have the new brutal HOOS if you want it (BIG HOOS aka the steendriver), Thursday, 6 February 2014 19:01 (six years ago) link

those fuckin sonnets

I'm an admirer of Berryman's sonnets, too. He leaves enough of the trad structure intact that it frees his sense of language, imagery and ideas to climb forward, and his plays against the trad sonnet structure gain extra weight because they are so deliberate.

Aimless, Thursday, 6 February 2014 19:02 (six years ago) link

i got halfway through this great long thing on berryman on the bus home last night, stopped reading to start reading the selected, then picked it back up and realized the whole thing is sort of a long-form review of the selected itself. happy accident.

i have the new brutal HOOS if you want it (BIG HOOS aka the steendriver), Thursday, 6 February 2014 19:04 (six years ago) link

man sharon olds' the dead and the living just came in and i tried to read a bit of it before bed

fuckin mistake.

just awful dark stuff, not meant for the pillow.

mary karr's viper rum is winning me over though. every third one or so is a gut punch, like a slightly unstiffened O'Connor. and i like my O'Connor just fine.

i have the new brutal HOOS if you want it (BIG HOOS aka the steendriver), Wednesday, 12 February 2014 21:10 (six years ago) link

This has a lovely cover, but the prose poems it consists of did nothing for me.
I found them facile and pseudo-profound (the nod to Khalil Gibran in Lydia Davis's introduction should have tipped me off), but plenty of people disagree with me.

ornamental cabbage (James Morrison), Thursday, 13 February 2014 01:08 (six years ago) link

there is just so much in Olds; they're not even so panoramic, just so full and imaginable. three a day, max.

mustread guy (schlump), Thursday, 13 February 2014 03:09 (six years ago) link

& wait is TDATL the recent one?

mustread guy (schlump), Thursday, 13 February 2014 03:09 (six years ago) link

nah its one from the early 80s.

i have the new brutal HOOS if you want it (BIG HOOS aka the steendriver), Thursday, 13 February 2014 03:41 (six years ago) link

Petrarch b/w English Alliterative Revival stuff; then a reading of Villon's Testament to close the middle ages

my collages, let me show you them (bernard snowy), Thursday, 13 February 2014 17:25 (six years ago) link

two weeks pass...


xyzzzz__, Friday, 28 February 2014 20:50 (six years ago) link

Seaton's version of Cold Mountain Poems.

Aimless, Friday, 28 February 2014 20:52 (six years ago) link

read a.e. housman's 'a shropshire lad' on my kindle a few weeks ago. uneven but some great stuff.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Friday, 28 February 2014 21:15 (six years ago) link

I've just discovered this thread. I like Hollander's criticism but I've not read his poetry. Where to begin?

I've been reading a bit of Les Murray and trying to ignore his more, ah, buffoonish commentary. Last Hellos is quite a thing.

Good cop, Babcock (Chinaski), Saturday, 16 March 2019 23:15 (one year ago) link

nine months pass...

With the LRB archive open (until the end of Jan, I think) I've been reading some of Helen Vendler's articles. This review of Motion's biography of Keats is scabrous and not entirely fair, I think: https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v19/n20/helen-vendler/inspiration-accident-genius

Loved this review of Hopkins' letters: https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v36/n07/helen-vendler/i-have-not-lived-up-to-it

Life is a meaningless nightmare of suffering...save string (Chinaski), Tuesday, 7 January 2020 20:57 (six months ago) link

Jay Wright.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 7 January 2020 20:59 (six months ago) link

Vendler taught me much about how to think about poetry, and I'm still fond of The Music of What Happens, but she's gotten idk hackish in recent years? She's old too, I suppose.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 7 January 2020 21:01 (six months ago) link

That review of Motion's biography was particularly, huffily critical of Motion's considerations of race, gender and class. It ponged of the anti-PC brigade.

Life is a meaningless nightmare of suffering...save string (Chinaski), Tuesday, 7 January 2020 21:03 (six months ago) link

I've been reading Michael Hofmann's One Lark, One Horse, and also started Rabindranath Tagore's Collected Poems and Plays.

o. nate, Wednesday, 8 January 2020 02:22 (six months ago) link

one month passes...

Late Air by Elizabeth Bishop

From a magician’s midnight sleeve
the radio-singers
distribute all their love-songs
over the dew-wet lawns.
And like a fortune-teller’s
their marrow-piercing guesses are whatever you believe.

But on the Navy Yard aerial I find
better witnesses
for love on summer nights.
Five remote red lights
keep their nests there; Phoenixes
burning quietly, where the dew cannot climb.

I keep thinking about this. I have a mental image of it, which has little to do with the concrete language - something closer to a feeling of late summer. My associative impulse is to relate it to Skunk Hour but there is no sense of psychosis here. And, looking now at the particulars, there's something occult in the references - the magician, the fortune teller, the phoenixes - and, ultimately a hopefulness. Am I parsing that right? I keep staring at the enjambment after fortune teller's, wanting there to be noun in the blankness.

Ngolo Cantwell (Chinaski), Sunday, 1 March 2020 13:41 (four months ago) link

But on the Navy Yard aerial I find
better witnesses
for love on summer nights.

Perfect enjambment

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 1 March 2020 13:46 (four months ago) link

See, I can say that I instinctively agree with you without really being able to - technically - say why that's perfect enjambment.

Ngolo Cantwell (Chinaski), Sunday, 1 March 2020 13:54 (four months ago) link

I've been reading Seamus Heaney's Death of A Naturalist. After reading so much Auden it's both surprisingly prescriptive and, I don't know, loose and roomy - within the space of the lines, at least. As an origin story, it's made me think of the episode of Wordsworth nicking the boat in the Prelude and losing his close ties to mother nature forever, albeit Heaney's loss of nature is much more closely tied to his father and the tradition he was born into (and is partly about the mourning of its loss). There's also something of Eliot's renouncing of Romanticism in there: a really studied look into the eyes of nature in tooth and claw.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Thursday, 5 March 2020 14:36 (four months ago) link

Heaney might be line by line one of my favorite poets of the last sixty years. The brevity of his verse has a music I swoon to.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 5 March 2020 14:48 (four months ago) link

^^ Speaking of music, you should really try and watch the documentary The Music of What Happens (review here) which is brilliant. A touching portrait by the people who were close to and loved him (including students of his in America) and about the music of his verses, in a way.

Le Bateau Ivre, Thursday, 5 March 2020 14:58 (four months ago) link

I missed it when it was on the iPlayer in the UK; now it's in that frustrating declivity between release and DVD etc.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Thursday, 5 March 2020 15:42 (four months ago) link

Would you recommend any other particular volumes of Heaney's poetry? I have a Selected (and Finders Keepers) but it's dawning on me (I have to learn the simple things last) that individual collections are absolutely the way to go.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Thursday, 5 March 2020 16:08 (four months ago) link

This is the good poetry:

Alice Oswald (megaphone visible) supporting striking students. Very proud to have her as our Professor of Poetry. pic.twitter.com/YQUfin3YW9

— Merve Emre (@mervatim) March 5, 2020

xyzzzz__, Friday, 6 March 2020 10:49 (four months ago) link

Would you recommend any other particular volumes of Heaney's poetry? I have a Selected (and Finders Keepers) but it's dawning on me (I have to learn the simple things last) that individual collections are absolutely the way to go.

― Vanishing Point (Chinaski),

North and Field Work, although his selected poems volume is among my most thumbed collections.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 6 March 2020 11:56 (four months ago) link

Thanks, Alfred.

There, in the corner, staring at his drink.
The cap juts like a gantry's crossbeam,
Cowling plated forehead and sledgehead jaw.
Speech is clamped in the lips' vice.

That fist would drop a hammer on a Catholic-
Oh yes, that kind of thing could start again;
The only Roman collar he tolerates
Smiles all round his sleek pint of porter.

Mosaic imperatives bang home like rivets;
God is a foreman with certain definite views
Who orders life in shifts of work and leisure.
A factory horn will blare the Resurrection.

He sits, strong and blunt as a Celtic cross,
Clearly used to silence and an armchair:
Tonight the wife and children will be quiet
At slammed door and smoker's cough in the hall.

This feels like relatively minor Heaney but damn: that subject-less opening line, where the vastness of the docker's object-hood seems to obliterate everything else; the granitic
weight of the nouns and adjectives in the descriptions: cowling-plated, crossbeam, sledgehead; and the not-so-subtle emergence of the social and religious context*; the beautiful metaphor of the scurf of his pint resembling a priest's collar.

*it's a slow creep through the book as a whole, but here, in the figure of the docker, it walks right out in front of you and pokes you in the chest.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Friday, 6 March 2020 18:17 (four months ago) link

He sits, strong and blunt as a Celtic cross,
Clearly used to silence and an armchair

These lines!

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 6 March 2020 18:55 (four months ago) link

one month passes...

Just spent 15 minutes typing "Lisburn Road" into the browser, only to have it vanish, but here it is anyway, a happy marriage of style and subject matter:


o. nate, Tuesday, 7 April 2020 02:20 (three months ago) link

I’m not sure looking at working class people in the pub and stereotyping what they might be thinking is a good starting-point for poetry

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Tuesday, 7 April 2020 02:24 (three months ago) link

that re the Heaney above rather than ‘Lisburn Road’. I have hated Heaney since the one on a poster in my English classroom at age, what, fourteen? which still comes back at intervals and works me into an apoplexy. The one that ends ‘I’ll dig with it.’

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Tuesday, 7 April 2020 02:27 (three months ago) link

what do yall think of denise riley? reading through the nyrb reissue of 'say something back' and 'time lived without its flow' and finding them pretty great. the sense of humor, though not much else, reminds me of rosmarie waldrop a little.

vivian dark, Tuesday, 7 April 2020 03:03 (three months ago) link

Does the fact that Heaney *was* working class people make a difference here? Plus I'm not sure that's what he's doing in that particular poem, at least not only that. There are awe and respect in there too.

That line is from 'Digging' and is a bit on the nose. It's practically juvenalia though and serves him well enough as a youthful manifesto.

I've been reading Elizabeth Bishop's first two volumes - North and South and A Cold Spring. I've struggled with finding a unifying voice in them and need to re-read with a clearer mind, but there are so many stunning poems: Late Air, the Man-Moth, At the Fishhouses, The Fish, Invitation to Miss Marianne Moore.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Tuesday, 7 April 2020 09:54 (three months ago) link

i have nothing not mean spirited to say about heaney so will avoid further comment

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Tuesday, 7 April 2020 10:21 (three months ago) link

what's the best ashbery for a beginner? i've read lots of standalone poems and am finishing up tennis court oath but want to know what the usual entry points are.

vivian dark, Sunday, 12 April 2020 03:32 (three months ago) link

Don’t know if it’s the usual circuit but Chinese Whispers eased me into his late style. Then I dipped backwards into Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror.

coviderunt omnes (pomenitul), Sunday, 12 April 2020 04:21 (three months ago) link

When I asked Alfred on ILB, he rec. Houseboat Days, but I haven't tried it yet. Mostly know him as a critic: v. astute observations here , which became the intro to Once and For All, ace Delmore Schwartz comp. The Lowell poem about Delmore, which Ashbery ends with, got me into Frank BIdart's monster RL collection: https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/the-heavy-bear-on-delmore-schwartz

dow, Monday, 13 April 2020 19:01 (three months ago) link

Any of those mid seventies collections will do: The Double Dream of Spring, Self-Portrait..., Houseboat Days. I'm partial to As We Know and A Wave. But, really, after 1974 a distressing sameness creeps into the work common to poets who finesse their manner.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 13 April 2020 19:10 (three months ago) link

This 1997 poem is my favorite late Ashbery lyric. It's called "Wakefulness."


An immodest little white wine, some scattered seraphs,
recollections of the Fall—tell me,
has anyone made a spongier representation, chased
fewer demons out of the parking lot
where we all held hands?

Little by little the idea of the true way returned to me.
I was touched by your care,
reduced to fawning excuses.
Everything was spotless in the little house of our desire,
the clock ticked on and on, happy about
being apprenticed to eternity. A gavotte of dust motes
came to replace my seeing. Everything was as though
it had happened long ago
in ancient peach-colored funny papers
wherein the law of true opposites was ordained
casually. Then the book opened by itself
and read to us: “You pack of liars,
of course tempted by the crossroads, but I like each
and every one of you with a peculiar sapphire intensity.
Look, here is where I failed at first.
The client leaves. History natters on,
rolling distractedly on these shores. Each day, dawn
condenses like a very large star, bakes no bread,
shoes the faithless. How convenient if it’s a dream.”

In the next sleep car was madness.
An urgent languor installed itself
as far as the cabbage-hemmed horizons. And if I put a little
bit of myself in this time, stoppered the liquor that is our selves’
truant exchanges, brandished my intentions
for once? But only I get
something out of this memory.
A kindly gnome
of fear perched on my dashboard once, but we had all
been instructed
to ignore the conditions of the chase. Here, it
seems to grow lighter with each passing century. No matter
how you twist it,
life stays frozen in the headlights.
Funny, none of us heard the roar

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 13 April 2020 19:14 (three months ago) link

Wowwww, thanks!

dow, Monday, 13 April 2020 22:13 (three months ago) link

getting around to the small contingent of recent poetry books on my shelf: francine j. harris's play dead last week, this week ruth ellen kocher's third voice. it's a weird one. it contextualises itself with quotations from minstrel-show how-to texts every so often; various famous figures of black american history have imagined encounters; a narratorial persona has anxieties. this last is (via the minstrel show bit, i guess) meant to be somehow riffing on the eliotic 'third voice' which i know nothing about. it's all formatted like this:

Skit: Pearl Bailey and Eartha Kitt Revise Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful

Whether we love it or hate it is irrelevant to its worth. We have
heard more women call women whores than we have heard men
call women whores. We have more light than we know what to do
with. Live with it. Some time ago, a Woman asked us for five
women we loved and five women we hated and five women we
hated to love . . . or maybe five women we hated and five women
we loved and five women we loved to hate . . . or both. We haven’t
been able to answer. We’re trying not to sing too easy green and
violet veins meaning moth-winged flower or would it be worse to
say bloom? The shackled hardwood, the ribs of the house, the ribs
of a huge beast, the ribs of a fossil, the ribs of a thing destined to
be stone. We call ourselves Away. Stranded is a place not a thing

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Tuesday, 14 April 2020 12:18 (three months ago) link

(n.b. i tried to read this before last year and gave up because a lot of the poems are single long verse-paragraphs like that but the typesetting leaves two or three lines on the verso of the page and it drove me insane)

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Tuesday, 14 April 2020 12:19 (three months ago) link

First impression is of going for/with hard statements of/as facts/home truths, illuminations, not reductions, casting toward "shackled hardwood" and so on---"we" unity too restless vibrant jittery to be "I" for a while.

dow, Tuesday, 14 April 2020 21:30 (three months ago) link

This is a good tweet.

At the last we want
unit costs plus VAT, patient grading:
made to order, made to care, poised
at the nub of avid sugar soap.

-- J.H. Prynne, The Oval Window (1983) pic.twitter.com/hLsX6fIOmk

— Jeremy Noel-Tod (@jntod) April 16, 2020

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 16 April 2020 12:35 (two months ago) link

is it tho

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Thursday, 16 April 2020 12:45 (two months ago) link

i lazily copied the kocher poem above from elsewhere on the internet and gosh, i just realised they've re-punctuated it

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Thursday, 16 April 2020 12:46 (two months ago) link

A lot of tweets are good not bad imo.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 16 April 2020 12:54 (two months ago) link

sure but in the hierarchy of things tweeted is that really one of the better ones

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Thursday, 16 April 2020 13:02 (two months ago) link

It's got potential in that I nearly picked up my J.H. Prynne's Poems to read the whole thing.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 16 April 2020 13:05 (two months ago) link

yeah i went to google books, my collected prynne is in another country. i'm not sure what point jnt thinks he's making with it but i don't think it stands up to much inspection

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Thursday, 16 April 2020 13:08 (two months ago) link

I read this and a few others by him last night. It's from circa 1934. He chose not to divide it into stanzas:

Valediction by Louis MacNeice

Their verdure dare not show . . . their verdure dare not show . . .
Cant and randy — the seals’ heads bobbing in the tide-flow
Between the islands, sleek and black and irrelevant
They cannot depose logically what they want:
Died by gunshot under borrowed pennons,
Sniped from the wet gorse and taken by the limp fins
And slung like a dead seal in a boghole, beaten up
By peasants with long lips and the whisky-drinker’s cough.
Park your car in the city of Dublin, see Sackville Street
Without the sandbags in the old photos, meet
The statues of the patriots, history never dies,
At any rate in Ireland, arson and murder are legacies
Like old rings hollow-eyed without their stones,
Dumb talismans.
See Belfast, devout and profane and hard,
Built on reclaimed mud, hammers playing in the shipyard,
Time punched with holes like a steel sheet, time
Hardening the faces, veneering with a grey and speckled rime
The faces under the shawls and caps:
This was my mother-city, these my paps.
Country of callous lava cooled to stone,
Of minute sodden haycocks, of ship-sirens’ moan,
Of falling intonations — I would call you to book
I would say to you, Look;
I would say, This is what you have given me
Indifference and sentimentality
A metallic giggle, a fumbling hand,
A heart that leaps to a fife band:
Set these against your water-shafted air
Of amethyst and moonstone, the horses’ feet like bells of hair
Shambling beneath the orange cart, the beer-brown spring
Guzzling between the heather, the green gush of Irish spring.
Cursed be he that curses his mother. I cannot be
Anyone else than what this land engendered me:
In the back of my mind are snips of white, the sails
Of the Lough’s fishing-boats, the bellropes lash their tails
When I would peal my thoughts, the bells pull free —
Memory in apostasy.
I would tot up my factors
But who can stand in the way of his soul’s steam-tractors?
I can say Ireland is hooey, Ireland is
A gallery of fake tapestries,
But I cannot deny my past to which my self is wed,
The woven figure cannot undo its thread.
On a cardboard lid I saw when I was four
Was the trade-mark of a hound and a round tower,
And that was Irish glamour, and in the cemetery
Sham Celtic crosses claimed our individuality,
And my father talked about the West where years back
He played hurley on the sands with a stick of wrack.
Park your car in Killarney, buy a souvenir
Of green marble or black bog-oak, run up to Clare,
Climb the cliff in the postcard, visit Galway city,
Romanticise on our Spanish blood, leave ten per cent of pity
Under your plate for the emigrant,
Take credit for our sanctity, our heroism and our sterile want
Columba Kevin and briny Brendan the accepted names,
Wolfe Tone and Grattan and Michael Collins the accepted names,
Admire the suavity with which the architect
Is rebuilding the burnt mansion, recollect
The palmy days of the Horse Show, swank your fill,
But take the Holyhead boat before you pay the bill;
Before you face the consequence
Of inbred soul and climatic maleficence
And pay for the trick beauty of a prism
In drug-dull fatalism.
I will exorcise my blood
And not to have my baby-clothes my shroud
I will acquire an attitude not yours
And become as one of your holiday visitors,
And however often I may come
Farewell, my country, and in perpetuum;
Whatever desire I catch when your wind scours my face
I will take home and put in a glass case
And merely look on
At each new fantasy of badge and gun.
Frost will not touch the hedge of fuchsias,
The land will remain as it was,
But no abiding content can grow out of these minds
Fuddled with blood, always caught by blinds;
The eels go up the Shannon over the great dam;
You cannot change a response by giving it a new name.
Fountain of green and blue curling in the wind
I must go east and stay, not looking behind,
Not knowing on which day the mist is blanket-thick
Nor when sun quilts the valley and quick
Winging shadows of white clouds pass
Over the long hills like a fiddler’s phrase.
If I were a dog of sunlight I would bound
From Phoenix Park to Achill Sound,
Picking up the scent of a hundred fugitives
That have broken the mesh of ordinary lives,
But being ordinary too I must in course discuss
What we mean to Ireland or Ireland to us;
I have to observe milestone and curio
The beaten buried gold of an old king’s bravado,
Falsetto antiquities, I have to gesture,
Take part in, or renounce, each imposture;
Therefore I resign, good-bye the chequered and the quiet hills,
The gaudily-striped Atlantic, the linen-mills
That swallow the shawled file, the black moor where half
A turf-stack stands like a ruined cenotaph;
Good-bye your hens running in and out of the white house
Your absent-minded goats along the road, your black cows
Your greyhounds and your hunters beautifully bred
Your drums and your dolled-up virgins and your ignorant dead.

A is for (Aimless), Thursday, 23 April 2020 01:42 (two months ago) link

I'm trying to read John Ashbery's Houseboat Days and am intrigued enough to stick around but he doesn't give you much, does he? I like the idea of writing *alongside* meaning and trying to follow the logic of music but it's frustrating and knotty. First noticing: he's opaque with pronouns, which I love; time is everywhere, and passing quickly; there's a Jamesian complexity to his sentences (clause, meet clause); he can stop me dead: '‘The omnipresent possibility of being interrupted/While what I stand for is still almost a bare canvas’ or

You turned your face fully toward night,
Speaking into it like a megaphone, not hearing
Or caring, although these still live and are generous
And are all ways contained, allowed to come and go
Indefinitely in and out of the stockade
They have so much trouble remembering, when your
Rescues them at last, as a star absorbs the night.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Thursday, 23 April 2020 15:38 (two months ago) link

I love "The Wrong Kind of Insurance."

Yes, friends, these clouds pulled along on invisible ropes
Are, as you have guessed, merely stage machinery,
And the funny thing is it knows we know
About it and still wants us to go on believing
In what it so unskillfully imitates, and wants
To be loved not for that but for itself:
The murky atmosphere of a park, tattered
Foliage, wise old treetrunks, rainbow tissue-paper wadded
Clouds down near where the perspective
Intersects the sunset, so we may know
We too are somehow impossible, formed of so many different things,
Too many to make sense to anybody.
We straggle on as quotients, hard-to-combine
Ingredients, and what continues
Does so with our participation and consent.

Try milk of tears, but it is not the same.
The dandelions will have to know why, and your comic
Dirge routine will be lost on the unfolding sheaves
Of the wind, a lucky one, though it will carry you
Too far, to some manageable, cold, open
Shore of sorrows you expected to reach,
Then leave behind.
Thus, friend, this distilled,
Dispersed musk of moving around, the product
Of leaf after transparent leaf, of too many
Comings and goings, visitors at all hours.
Each night
Is trifoliate, strange to the touch.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 23 April 2020 15:41 (two months ago) link

He's got my number

dow, Thursday, 23 April 2020 16:03 (two months ago) link

Yeah, this is magnificent, and 'The message is learned/The way light at the edge of a beach in autumn is learned' could well function as a manifesto from what I've read so far.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Thursday, 23 April 2020 16:28 (two months ago) link

two months pass...

I finally read Leaving the Atocha Station. I didn't love it exactly (I don't know that I needed a novel about a writer's struggle for meaning, couched in ironic distance) but the Ashbery section, that functioned as the centrepiece-as-enacted-criticism, damn well nearly *did* make me fall head-over-heels with it. I've read excerpts of The Hatred of Poetry and think I should read it.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Friday, 26 June 2020 17:23 (two weeks ago) link

'centrepiece-as-enacted-criticism' already makes me want to punch myself in the eye, but it was the best I had for how that bit of buried criticism functioned as a codebreaker for the whole text. I wonder if a stricter editor might have got rid of it because too on the nose?

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Friday, 26 June 2020 17:27 (two weeks ago) link

I've read excerpts of The Hatred of Poetry and think I should read it.

Indeed you should, it's excellent. I can't think of a single similarly titled essay that isn't worth reading (Georges Bataille's own Hatred of Poetry aka The Impossible, Pascal Quignard's Hatred of Music, Jacques Rancière's Hatred of Democracy and William Marx's Hatred of Literature, which I assume has yet to be translated into English).

pomenitul, Friday, 26 June 2020 18:22 (two weeks ago) link

two weeks pass...

Aimless, that Louis Macniece poem is extraordinary

blue light or electric light (the table is the table), Monday, 13 July 2020 01:05 (two days ago) link

I thought it was one of the better things I've read in the past few years. It contains a lot in a little space. I can see where you might find resonances in it that correspond to your own circumstances.

the unappreciated charisma of cows (Aimless), Monday, 13 July 2020 03:11 (two days ago) link

You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.