Sunday, January 24, 2010

Chelsey Minnis - Poemland

Chelsey Minnis
Poemland

Poemland (Wave Books 2009) comes without a table of contents or index of first lines, but with plenty of barcodes. No individual poems have titles (if there are individual poems) but every so often there will be a fully inked page (and barcode) that creates a sort of divider. By looking around online, it seems that each page contains a discrete poem (usually four or five lines long), though ideas continue across several pages. I’m fascinated by the whole thing, and the seeming randomness of application and tone. Here are a few poems (I think), as example. They all come from the same section (if it’s a section!), early in the book.



I like to live a hard life but I know I shouldn’t do it . . .

I should live an easy life or I am a fool!


The sea-crabs try to cling onto anything.


The crab fishermen don’t even want all the crab . . . they want money . . .

Even though their mustaches are covered with ice . . .


+ + +


If you are a person you can also be someone’s goat . . .

I can tell you about it for free . . .


I can long remember a nastie thing . . .

If it is well done . .


+ + +


I look to the left and right with my eyes and then I swing the sharp thing . . .

As you rise out of a cloud on a mechanized contraption . . .


If you open your mouth to start to complain I will fill it with whipped cream . . .

There is a floating sadness nearby . . .


+ + +


Don’t try to walk away from a little girl like me!


This is a recollection of flopped happiness . . .

And it is a fistfight in the rain under a held umbrella . . .


There is a way to smoke your cigarette and look out the window but you’ll never get enough of it.



Chelsey Minnis


12 Comments:

At 1/25/2010 2:40 PM, Blogger Kat said...

I'd really like to read that... to Amazon, I guess.

 
At 1/25/2010 2:43 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

As she writes:

This is like looking too sexy in an incomfortable chair...

This is when you lean over the railing and your hair ribbon falls out....

It is like being slapped in the face with a stack of dollar bills...

I like it like glitter drums!

 
At 1/25/2010 3:28 PM, Blogger Oliver de la Paz said...

Oh, and I love showing ZIRCONIA to my students. It frustrates them, but she's got some killer lines in that book.

Looks like I've got to get this one.

 
At 1/25/2010 3:31 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

The tone is pretty fun to chase around the room. This is the first of her books I've come across. I guess this means I'm going to have to get the others ...

And now all my big buy money is gone. It's back to squares.

 
At 1/26/2010 7:39 PM, Blogger michaeldumanis said...

I like Poemland well enough, but I think her best book is Bad Bad. The long sequence of multiple prefaces knocks me out every time. I assigned Bad Bad in a graduate workshop last year, and really enjoyed teaching and discussing it. I think she's one of the more distinctive and original writers out there, with a poem-logic all her own.

 
At 1/31/2010 3:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it amazing how much people seem to dig CM's poems; I find them so, well, whateverish: yahyah, she's had work rejected etc; isn't that obvious in an un-interesting way (the obvious can be totally interesting, please don't read this quip as a general diss!)--why write poem lines telling us so? This post is really responding to BadBad not Poemland, a self-reflexive title I don't enjoy. The excerpts you've included are sorta fun/clever, but are they really that distinguished?

Adam Strauss

 
At 1/31/2010 3:48 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Adam,

I brought Poemland to a group of young writers last week, and the conversation was all over the place. From praise for the imagination and energy of the deadpan in the book, to hostility and the sort fo reaction you have here, and kind of "whateverish" blandness . . .

One person said it seems like one of the goals of the book is to find a way to irritate as many people as possible, and I found that fascinating. This is the only book of hers I've read, and I've already suggested it to friends, knowing reaction is going to be, again, all over the place. I think there's a value to that.

 
At 1/31/2010 4:02 PM, Blogger adams24 said...

Although I don't like her work, I think she's brilliant at making a reader feel "in the know"--like gabbing with the cool crowd! I think this may be why she has hit a chord with folks. There is no doubt something impressive about this feat, it's just not one I'm interested in. This may be a bit absurd, but I'd love to see CM write on one of my heroes--Naomi Campbell!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

adam strauss

 
At 1/31/2010 4:09 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Well, if she were going to write on her with, say, a permanent marker, I'd like to see that too!

 
At 1/31/2010 4:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm confused: why would anyone want to deface Campbell!

 
At 1/31/2010 4:41 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

It doesn't have to be a defacement. It could be a poem or something. Maybe a nice phrase down her side? Maybe something from Poemland!

 
At 3/04/2010 6:28 PM, Blogger Elise said...

Chelsey Minnis -- I like her poems!

 

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