Friday, October 19, 2012

Teicher/Swensen/Ronk/Benedikt et al

Things really aren’t chugging along all that smoothly here in the center of it all, but things still are chugging.  I have no more time by the end of the day, my friends, but I’ve managed somehow to read a few good books (or am reading a few good books):

Cole Swensen’s most wonderful Gravesend.  Martha Ronk’s just out Partially Kept.  The massive and formidable The Arcadia Project (Corey & Waldrep, eds).  And the new arrivals of Susan Wheeler’s Meme (which I haven't started yet but am looking forward to) and Craig Morgan Teicher’s To Keep Love Blurry. 

Mostly I’m working on the Benedikt project.  There’s a lot to go through.  Right now the manuscript pages are at 134, but I still have some stuff that hasn’t been typed up yet.  When I get that all incorporated, I’ll see what there is and Laura Boss and I will give it a good shake to see if anything falls out.  Hopefully by then I'll know more about presses and such. Hopefully!

It’s been an OK year for music and poetry.  Some good things.  Not as much as some years, more than others.  Neil Young & Crazy Horse have an album coming out in another week or so, so there’s that.  And he’s writing completely sober for the first time in his life, so there’s that too, I guess. 

Here are a couple poems on the writing life that I rather adore:

To an Editor Who Said I Repeat Myself and Tell Too Much
Craig Morgan Teicher

The mouth works all its life to spit a vowel—
some long sound with feeling fenced in
by the sharp stops of a few right consonants, a howl
and a pen to keep it tame, a calm din
that won’t drown out the life it tries
to say, but won’t deny, either, that hell
is the sound we’re all born making, the cry
in the womb, which we tell
and tell—too much, of course—
in the hope of exhausting it.  Stated plain,
there is no other subject—rejoice, remorse,
repress—all words stand for pain.
Over and over I say—what else can I do?
All words stand for pain. Fuck you.

And , to close, something from the Benedikt suitcase:

Michael Benedikt

OK, poems, I haven’t written any of you lately, for what seems like almost at least an eon
To me, although for all I know nobody out there may be exactly throwing, in fits & starts, a random tantrum
About your absence.  Indeed, for all I know, there may even be no
Publisher, like a perpetual vacuum-cleaner
Dying, just, for my latest stardust.  Still, I need you, poetry—your sometimes outrageous explorations, your often preposterous revelations, to tell me, poetry, precisely
Just what I’m doing.  Just What I’m Doing
Sometimes remains hidden from me as if in a silken
Blindfold, like some “Secret Guest Panelist”
On some TV guessing-game; or else concealed worse than some flirt behind her fan, unless a little art, finally
Tells me who what & where I am.  Am I myself, perhaps
“The Scarlet Pimpernel,” who’s got himself into the world’s worst pickle
With his endless, masked disguises?  Have I really
Lived through anything recently, & have I, after all, after all this time

Really learned anything, lately?  Have I been listening to even the least little thing?  &, in the very midst of things, has there been anything happening
Worth mentioning?  Oh, it can pour out such a crazy cornucopia
Of accusation, or (sometimes) occasional confirmation— “It,” (I mean you, poetry)
Which can tell without fail the vast & all-important difference ’twixt a merely hollow silo & a truly perforated void
At the first breath of any reborn metaphor, potent consonant, or vital verb
& Thus uncover a person in all their “guiltiness” or maybe somewhat groggy “glory”
Or else announce some other, maybe smaller, but nonetheless still resounding truth, should neither of those two terms apply. 

Well, we’ve all known those days which seem so externally uneventful
That somehow just noodling around on the psychological saxophone
Is enough—which is why, personally, I like you, poetry, you’re friendly;
You hang around with even spiritual drifters, on even the meanest of streetcorners
& Act sometimes like the kind of just-for-kicks pickpocket
Who will klepto your watchfob, then return it;
& Slap you on the back thereafter; & buy you a beer. 

So, for your curious gentleness, too, poetry, I guess there’s a lot to be said for you (or at least there certainly should be)
Even though in those thoughts & words you may sometimes bless the best
There may be all the discretion, & some of the forbearance, of the professional strangler. 
Monolithic, stoney sorrow, or merely floppy joy; & in general, a pure if possibly unpopular admixture
Of things yet-to-be-revealed, or maybe better yet, left unsaid. 

Poetry, you don’t just come right out & say: “Look, baby, today I looked over & across all of reality
& Also athwart your heart, where the whole of this great big world including a whole lotta things lots more obvious than you
Had been pressed up quite hard against it
& Found that a great big hole was starting to form in it!”

—Which is nice of you, poetry, whom I hope will remain my friend. 


Thursday, October 11, 2012

2012 National Book Award in Poetry + The Nobel


David Ferry, Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations (University of Chicago Press)
Cynthia Huntington, Heavenly Bodies (Southern Illinois University Press)
Tim Seibles, Fast Animal (Etruscan Press)
Alan Shapiro, Night of the Republic (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Susan Wheeler, Meme (University of Iowa Press)


Laura Kasischke, Dana Levin, Maurice Manning, Patrick Rosal, Tracy K. Smith

In other news:

Chinese author Mo Yan wins Nobel literature prize

Chinese writer Mo Yan has been named the winner of the Nobel Prize in literature.
The Swedish Academy, which selects the winners of the prestigious award, on Thursday praised Mo's realism, saying it "merges folk tales, history and the contemporary."

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