Saturday, April 30, 2016

Poetic Influences -- Nick Flynn

I remember seeing this poem in an anthology and being very excited about it.  Here was a poet who used cartoons as a metaphor for death.  This is stuff I wanted to be doing.  I looked for his book "Some Ether" soon after and it became one of my prized books (like around the same time I was starting to dig Broken Social Scene, Stars, etc.)  Although my tastes have changed a little, I still see Flynn's work as something that helped initiate me into the world of poetry.   
Cartoon Physics, part 1

Children under, say, ten, shouldn't know
that the universe is ever-expanding,   
inexorably pushing into the vacuum, galaxies

swallowed by galaxies, whole

solar systems collapsing, all of it
acted out in silence. At ten we are still learning

the rules of cartoon animation,

that if a man draws a door on a rock
only he can pass through it.   
Anyone else who tries

will crash into the rock. Ten-year-olds
should stick with burning houses, car wrecks,   
ships going down—earthbound, tangible

disasters, arenas

where they can be heroes. You can run
back into a burning house, sinking ships

have lifeboats, the trucks will come
with their ladders, if you jump

you will be saved. A child

places her hand on the roof of a schoolbus,   
& drives across a city of sand. She knows

the exact spot it will skid, at which point
the bridge will give, who will swim to safety
& who will be pulled under by sharks. She will learn

that if a man runs off the edge of a cliff
he will not fall

until he notices his mistake.

"Cartoon Physics, part 1" by Nick Flynn from Some Ether. Copyright 2000 by Nick Flynn. Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press.
Source: Some Ether (Graywolf Press, 2000)

Friday, April 29, 2016

Recent Work -- The Human Ocean

Here's another draft of a poem.  It'll be removed in one day.

"poem taken down"

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Music to Read By -- Huffer by The Breeders

The Breeders may be my favorite band.  I saw them in 1993 in Dayton, Ohio, and then at the 9:30 Club and the Black Cat about 5-6 years ago.  I think Title TK is an under appreciated album, especially this song.  Like the Unicorns, they seem to be chaotic, but everything, every strange note, is purposeful.  I'd like to write a poem like a Breeders' song, that is ramshackle, threatening to fall apart, but is still the best thing you've ever heard.  The Breeders have taught me to write for wrong "notes", to follow mistakes, to realize that the disjointed is wonderful.  Enjoy!

Breeders -- Huffer

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Accessibility and Poetry

One of the blurbs (Gerry LaFemina's) I received for my chapbook, "The Art of Dissolving," said that I combined common language and wild imagery.  This is definitely what I'm trying to do.  I want to combine weirdness with language that's accessible to anyone.  I feel pressure to try more hybrid, experimental work, but it doesn't really suit my nature.  I have family and friends who don't read poetry, and I want to discover ways to include them in my readership.  As much as I admire Ben Lerner, John Ashbery, and other poets like them, I feel most comfortable aiming for a different audience.  Like Kafka, I don't want the readers to have to bring anything to the page than their open minds.

Recent Work -- Mourners

A quick draft of a poem.  It'll be taken down in one day.

"poem taken down"

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Response to Justin Boening at NPM Daily

"As a reader, however, I find, especially in this moment—a moment when we ask our poems to be useful, to be active (politically and socially), in a moment when we demand, even, that a poet know what her poems might mean—I cleave to that trait of poetry that originally, when I was fifteen years dumb, invited me in. Sure, poetry cast its spell on me through its usual avenues—its strange collision of recklessness and order, ecstasy and sadness, conservation and revolution, et cetera—but, without a doubt, the quality that kept roping me back toward it was that I didn’t have the slightest fucking clue what any of it meant."  --Justin Boening at NPM Daily.

I really like this quote by Justin Boening.  I resist in my own work the demand that it be useful, that it be understood.  I think of initially reading Charles Simic and being weirded out by the poetry.  It's enough that poetry is beautiful in some way and some form, I think.  Thanks, Justin, for promoting this view of poetry.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Recent Work -- Reject the Trash

Wallace Stevens' work has been a big help lately; it's incredibly rich and interesting.  Some of his phrases, lines, titles have inspired some interesting poetry.  For example, the following poem (which will be taken down in a day):

"poem taken down"

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Recent Work -- Fruit

A draft of a new poem.  Will be taken down in one day.

"poem taken down"

Friday, April 22, 2016

Personal and Political at Georgetown Reading, Draft of a Poem

I went to hear a poet read last night in Georgetown, and I was impressed by her work.  Not only was it experimental and accessible at the same time, she managed to mix the political and personal perfectly, such as her poem on landlords that matched resistance against paying rent to revolution on a wider scale.  I'm almost her opposite, in that I write what I feel are surreal parables that don't have a lot of political content.  On the one hand, I contemplate trying what she does, seeing if I can follow her brilliance in that area.  On the other, I feel O.K. in the niche I've placed myself in.  Sure, I don't have work with political resonance, but I think I talk about the universal, the situations that affect everyone.  Here is a draft poem that is an example of my weirdness.

"poem taken down"

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Music to Read By -- Into Eternity by Jens Lekman

A master of the love song, Lekman's work straddles the line between earnest and irony.  (I've seen him twice in concert, with each one seeming kind of Disco and cheesy in parts).  He can be so over the top that I'm not sure how to take it.  But I love his music, mostly, and this is one of his prettiest.  I think Lekman has showed me that everything doesn't have to be dark humor.  You can come out and say what you want, even if it's about happiness, longing, and love.  It can be hard to do that in poetry, but the more joy we have in it, I think the better off we might be as far as readership goes.

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Into Eternity

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Recent Work -- Autumn's Absence

Here's a new draft of a poem.  Will take down in a day.

"poem taken down"