Next Tuesday, September 4 on Amazon.com!
You can also download the 70+ page reader's guide (which is also a traveler's guide through the Goodnight-Loving Trail) for free. Download it at marymccray.com.
Next Tuesday, September 4 on Amazon.com!
You can also download the 70+ page reader's guide (which is also a traveler's guide through the Goodnight-Loving Trail) for free. Download it at marymccray.com.
....so then we found out we had to move. On top of everything else. Criminy! The fact that this book is coming out this year is a miracle. It's been rough. The last few months have been packing and planning a move. Not what I had in mind for this year at all.
But we've had a lot of help from friends and family and I'm grateful for that because it's kept things with this book on track, but barely.
But I would not advise putting out a book of any sort in the same year you have to move. It's financially and physically not a good idea. Had I known.
Anyway, I also want to point out how many edit drafts this process went through. If you don't love editing, don't self-publish. End of story.
This manuscript was originally written in 2014 and went through two (2) drafts of editing by myself and Monsieur Big Bang way back then.
This year the manuscript was professionally edited (probably the most expensive part of the venture apart from cover design). That was edit number three (3). Then I edited the manuscript one final time as I was laying it out for proofs. That was the fourth (4) edit.
You can see from the post-it notes above, proofs needed many edits too. As of today there have been six (6) rounds of proof editing.
We're at a total of twelve (12) rounds of edits. In the very last versions, you're often only editing one or two things, but it's time consuming. And you have to enjoy making small changes over and over again. Which I actually do. I really enjoy editing. I find it relaxing and productive. You wouldn't know if from all the typos in this blog but if I had the time I would take every post through 4-5 rounds of editing. But it's a free blog, so you get what you pay for.
This book isn't free and it needs to be error-free.
I’m really excited about the latest essays I’ve been reading. At the end of last year I concentrated on books by Louise Glück, starting with American Originality: Essays on Poetry (2017). I was prepared to not like it because of one reviewer claimed it was a defense of American Narcissism. The reviewer turned out to have read only the first short essay, (lame reviewer), and Glück was not even defending narcissism, but explaining how America got hooked on it.
In any case, I was forced into a crash course on reading Glück prose, which is difficult and abstract and even though her essays are often short and tiny, they always required slow, concentrated reading. She reminded me of C.K. Wright in that way, their dense, packed gems of thinkings.
There’s also a big of sexism in me that prickles when women write like word-tangled academics, as if being complicated is an attempt to keep up with "Professor Guy," who throws his weight around with unnecessarily big words and complicated sentences, doing little to communicate anything but intimidation to his readers. I said the word obtuse earlier incorrectly but I was searching for willfully obscure and esoteric. Inaccessible.
Stupid me, this is not what Louise Gluck is doing at all. She is just very precise and particular. In fact, I came away thinking Glück prose is probably the smartest, most perceptive writing on poetry I’ve yet come across. And I fully appreciated her willingness to write about modern poetic realities instead of the same ole easy targets, like lamenting the state of current readerships. Her ability to parse modern conundrums might just take the top off your head.
Well, at least half of it will. The other half contains introductions to book contests Glück has judged over the years. Although including them in these essays feels like a generous impulse, book introductions are hard to like. They’re not journal or magazine reviews, which tend to be more holistic about a writers life or themes. Introductions are also not fully satisfying out of context and if you haven’t read the book’s they refer to, the quotes leave you feeling more disoriented than enlightened. They also don’t quite whet your appetite for the book the way book reviews do. That said, in many of these introductions Glück presents a formal or stylistic challenge each writer has overcome and you get a few paragraphs on the drawbacks of each style or form, including some good conversation around things like nonsense writing and irony, (“Irony has become less part of a whole tonal range than a scrupulous inhibiting armor, the disguise by which one modern soul recognizes another…characterized by acute self-consciousness without analytical detachment, a frozen position as opposed to a means of inquiry”). See what I mean? It’s tough chewing but worth slowing down for that.
Other big topics she tackles: American ideas of originality and self-creation and how ironically the “triumphs of self-creation (and uniqueness) require confirmation, corroboration,” confessional poetry and self-absorption and what is narcissistic and not narcissistic: “the sense that no one else is necessary, that the self is of limitless interest, makes American writers particularly prone to any version of the narcissistic. Our journals are full of these poems…a net of associations and memories, in which the poet’s learning and humanity are offered up like prize essays in grade school.”
She talks about what being really smart means and the thirst to be perceived as a smart poet: “Central to this art is appearance: less crucial to think than to appear to think, to be beheld thinking.” And later she says, “This means that certain brilliantly intellectual writers are not treated as intellectual writers because they don’t observe the correct forms…it does not conform to established definitions of intellectual daring.” In this, she includes poems that are “too lively” or “grammatically clear” or “not on the surface difficult.” This reminded me of the New York Times Magazine’s essay on “thirst.”
You could also say all the same things about comedy writing and the false hierarchy of value in all forms of writing and thinking.
She also covers language poetry and fragments: “in the absence of context, fragments, no matter how independently beautiful, grow rapidly tedious: they do not automatically constitute an insight regarding the arbitrary….[they are] a strange hopefulness…born of a profound despair, the hope that, in another mind if not one’s own, these images will indeed cohere…the hope that if one has enough memories, enough responses, one exists….the longer the gesture fails, the more determined the poet becomes.”
She even lists out the tactics of language projects: incompleteness, focusing on the what-is-missing in human communication, aborted attempts, gaps, the unspoken. She tracks how quickly those strategies “turn rote, how little there is to explore here.” She says, “the problem is that though the void is great the effect of its being invoked is narrow.” She says, “the paradox is that the named generates far more complex and powerful associations than does the unnamed.”
This is particularly good: “The unfinished alludes to the infinite…the sense of the perpetually becoming is conceived as a source of energy, also a fit subject for intellectual speculation. The problem is that there is nothing to say once the subject has been raised.” At the end of the day, “the experience of reading a stanza is not different from the experience of reading forty stanzas.”
It’s sort of shocking to me how old these essays are (late 90s) and how we’re still being asked to read forty more stanzas of the same language experiments year after year.
She also covers myths, personas, narrative, image poetry, fear of closure and the embrace of chaos. And her comment here jives with what David Foster Wallace once said in defense of sentiment: “Distance for sentiment, anxiety at the limitations of the self, create contempt for feeling, as though feeling were what was left over after the great work of the mind was finished.” Yes! Thank you!
She talks about political poetry, too often compared, she says, to the lyric and she feels these “distinctions are a matter of degree.” She talks about the cult of beauty’s lack of insights versus projects that explore puzzles and arguments.
Probably the most moving section covered why we write: the idea of personal growth and healing compared to reflections on loss and suffering, unhappiness in art, true risks of happiness, authenticity, the creative being and suppression of all other selves. Contrary to the idea of the troubled artist, Glück says the happy spirit, “fortified, can afford to go more profoundly, more resourcefully, into the material, being less imperiled.” “Well-being,” she says, “seeks out the world, a place likely to be more varied than the self.”
Wow. All this in a 200 page book!
My favorite quote from this book: “Poems do not endure as objects but as presences. When you read anything worth remembering, you liberate a human voice; you release into the world again a companion spirit. I read poems to hear that voice. And I write to speak to those I have heard.”
This year in the New York Times Book Review I read about a book that combines my interests in haiku and electronic poetry. It's called Comes the Fiery Night by David H. Cope. The author compiled 2,000 haiku (yes, two thousand), some of which were written by human haiku masters, (Issa, Basho, Buson), and some which were composed by a machine.
The challenge, according to Cope, was to figure out which haiku had meaning and which were "worth while." In the preface, he directed you to look for humor, pith, happiness, sadness, and history. He also warned you that his computer made typographical mistakes.
So I looked for all that and also decided to look for connective tissue between the three lines, an overarching story or lesson across three lines (preferable a Buddhist or Zen lesson), cohesion in grammar, tenses, repetition or sense, what might seem too abstract for ancient haiku writers, indefinite pronouns, and common subjects of haiku (like nature). I felt I had a pretty strong rubric going for me. Although some days of reading were easier than others, I must say I felt pretty confident that I could track the real McCoys.
I went the extra electronic step and purchased the book for my Kindle. This made the process extra challenging because Cope's eBook kept crashing my Kindle after poem 200. So I stopped after getting 500 done and emailed the author with my guesses. Cope won't give you the exact answers, but he will tell you how many you got right or wrong.
I got 21 out of 221 right! Can you hear my heart breaking? That's a pretty intense brain whopping I just got from a machine. If it's any consolation, the proceeds of the book go to Greenpeace, saving the environment and not poetry machines.
I’ve always been a very slow learner. It took me a long time to learn to tie my shoes, use a zipper, tell time on anything non-digital, read, figure out what boys wanted, crack the mysteries of office politics. Really painfully slow.
But, and this is a big but, when I figure things out sudden enlightenment comes like a big aha and I go from the bottom of the hill to the peak instantaneously. I’m in remedial reading one day and not improving and then I’m in National Honors Society the following Tuesday and all my brainiac friends are like “WTF are you doing here?”
Okay, so tying my shoes is a bad example. I still can’t really do that very well. But in general I spend a lot of my time confused and in the dark and then…bingo….I get it.
And The New Yorker Magazine is another example of this. When I was at Sarah Lawrence all my writer friends seemed to be reading The New Yorker. I tried it then but there weren’t enough pictures. The text was oppressively text-y. The poems seemed obtuse. I even tried multiple times over the years since then. If some pretentious person had the magazine displayed prominently on their coffee table or if my writer friends still were subscribing, although always with the comment, “I love this magazine but I never have time to read it.” And then recently at CNM even my coworkers were talking about it and sharing links to it. Huh. What is wrong with me? You can’t force these things.
But suddenly in 2016 I was offered a deeply discounted short subscription to the magazine through the college and I’ve been glued to it ever since. All the other magazines coming into the house, (I’m being gifted quite a few right now), are being literally ignored, except for the celebrity rag I’m reading in the bathtub because I don’t care if it gets wet. I even stopped my subscription after 6 months because I was feeling anxious that it would take me two years to get through just 2016 issues and I didn't want to miss anything. So I cancelled it because I liked it.
My favorite articles are pieces about visual artists and writers. There have been three good articles on poets and writers so far.
Like The New Yorker, I’ve often tried to like Wallace Stevens. People I know who love Wallace Stevens love him very passionately. They work hard to understand the poems and they feel like extra time is worth it. Two classes I've recently taken in Modernism helped me find a few poems to get into, my favorite is probably "The Man on the Dump." But I’m not rushing out to find any Wallace Stevens books. This book review didn’t really change that feeling but it was very interesting for two reasons:
For uncovering his political beliefs:
“Stevens made haplessly clumsy allusions to social and political tensions of the time, though he was “a Hoover Republican,” Mariani writes, and also an admirer of Mussolini for rather longer than is comfortably excused as a common myopia of the time. He was no better than most white men of his class in point of casual racism and anti-Semitism, though fewer such toxins leak into his poetry than into that of Eliot or Pound. In verse, Stevens transcended anything mean or petty in himself, but for art’s sake; he wasn’t much given to moral scruple."
And his office personality:
“Stevens continued to go to work each day into his seventies, even after surgery for a stomach obstruction revealed a metastasizing cancer. He was too august at the firm to be let go, but he was never popular there. His boss remarked, “Unless they told me he had a heart attack, I never would have known he had a heart.”
This was another good piece of biography which also covered the reasons why Goethe isn’t so popular now with English-speaking readers, possibly due to his obsession for leading a mentally healthy life. That sort of impulse is not very en vogue with us this century after we re-imagined our judgements about mental illness. In our time, artistic madness is appreciated, the whole “living on the edge” thing. The author compares the sentiment around madness before and after Beethoven, a contemporary of Goethe, came on the scene. Fascinating.
Another good one in these times of political anxiety: Adrienne Rich’s Poetic Transformations.
Like Wallace Stevens, I’ve also struggled to connect with Adrienne Rich, although I appreciate writers' appreciation of her. I had a book signed by her once at The Dodge Poetry Festival back in the 1990s and she seemed a bit stern and cold while signing books. But coming across Rich in continuing education courses keeps me trying.
Someday I’ll get it.
Ann Cefola's new book-length poem, Free Ferry on Upper Hand Press, is about the secrecy behind the development of plutonium alongside poems about growing up in 1960s suburban America. The plutonium and family pieces are separate but Cefola creates a matrix between them which explores the impact of scientific development and cold-war fears on living families. Cefola drew material and inspiration from technical publications and her father-in-law, who worked on the plutonium project.
The plutonium story runs along the bottom of the book's pages--Cefola calls this the "bottom narrative" which interacts with the more traditionally displayed family poems on each page. The architecture works like an assemblage, where ideas from the plutonium fragments are collaged next to relevant family stories. This structure gives you all sorts of opportunities to read the poems horizontally and vertically. Hot and cold contrasts are explored, dichotomies between the vibrant and the flat, intellectual science transposed next to suburban parties. Two stories are being told at once, woven together and they ultimately merge.
Cefola investigates emotional exposure and chemical exposure, tenderness and brittleness, disasters both emotional and physical, and rivalries between siblings and poems. The family poems themselves are a vibrant survey of 60s Americana: television (and love of TV dinners), dishwashers, vacations, neighborhood lawns and personalities.
When Cefola uses details, they are always heavy with extra significance, like the wine glasses in the cabinet stacked as if in the middle of a can-can dance, or the idea of "children like lava" over the death of a dog, or Ed Sullivan pronouncing 'show' as 'shoe." This reminded me of Sonny & Cher's first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show where Sullivan mispronounced Cher's name as 'Chir.'
And then there's a scientific formula printed in all its glory at the climax of the book. The ending leaves us with the smell of firs and the desire to protect all that has been explored, the physical and emotional vulnerabilities, the fireflies.
There is no other poet like Cefola. Her tight, article-free lines zero in on ideas like a microscope and the style of brevity intensifies the action. She sprinkles in italics where ideas almost glow.
Buy Free Ferry
I’ve continued with explorations of digital poetry as I'm still interested in how readers process narratives, multi-sensory experiences and the playful and participatory. I'm also getting my mind blown by the frame busting.
I’ve just started to read the textbook, New Media Poetics: Contexts, Technotexts, and Theories, edited by Adalaide Morris. It's just as nerdy as you would expect but I'm really lovin it.
I also recently tried to introduce a digital novel into my Difficult Book Club (more on that below). Before I mistakenly chose the books we read, I tried to contact a few members of the Electronic Literature Org to find out what they might recommend for introducing to book-bound club to electronic literature. But I consistently received no response so we picked a PDF novel with a image archive and the group choked on it. They hated it. Granted the execution of the narrative wasn’t very good, but they weren’t even interested in the concept of it or the opportunities for escaping the limitations of their chosen media.
Since then, I’ve received a copy of the digital novel Wallpaper (now touring in art installations in Europe) but I haven’t been able to run it yet, finding too many technical limitations from one computer to another. You can see some online “short stories” from the story's creator at Dreaming Methods. Click 'Portfolio' in the top menu.
Monsieur Big Bang and I are also going to tackle House of Leaves shortly after we finish the Gormanghast novels. I know this sounds more like The Masochist’s Book Club than just The Difficult Book Club but you can peruse our evolving reading list.
I’ve also been reading more about poet Stephanie Strickland. Here is a good example of her work: “Sea and Spar Between”
The poem is based on Emily Dickinson poem “each second is the last” below:
Each Second is the last
Perhaps, recalls the Man
Just measuring unconsciousness
The Sea and Spar between.
To fail within a Chance –
How terribler a thing
Than perish from the Chance’s list
Before the Perishing!
Unlike Emily Dickinson poems, this one is 225 trillion stanzas long (yeah, you heard that right), impossible to read fully which is part of the point. It’s still fun to “skim across the surface” of it and experience the responsiveness of your computer mouse as the poem’s stanzas flutter away. You can use your A and Z keys to zoom in and out.
Here is Strickland’s essay from the Poetry Foundation website, “Born Digital,” where she lists 11 ways to identify and conceptualize digital poetry.
I’ve also come across The Iowa Review Web that seems worth exploring, an online journal of digital pieces from 2000-2008. Browse the archive: http://thestudio.uiowa.edu/tirw/vol9n2/judymalloy.php
These three recent reads also classify as difficult if you're feeling adventurous.
A Poetical Dictionary by Loren Green (Amazon)
When I first started to read this, I gave up. I wasn’t in the mood to read something that slowly. It’s all timing with these difficult books. A year or two later, I started again. This is a short book and well worth the effort of going slow with but its only 42 words long. Fascinating if you’re in any way into etymology (or the study of words). Word nerds, dictionary nerds.
Don’t skip the preface, it’s full of prose poetry. Beautifully printed, pronunciation tips that are pure poetry, historical word history followed by lyrical explorations of the chosen words. A sprinkling of dictionary abbreviations I had to look up…I’m no dictionary snob. So observant. We should all do this exercise with our favorite words.
Don’t miss the charts at the end! Never have I found charts so moving.
Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History by Franco Moretti (Amazon)
I read this book and then lost it in my book-stuffed house (which makes me a hoarder). Google Books explains this book well,
"The 'great iconoclast of literary criticism' ("Guardian") reinvents the study of the novel. Franco Moretti argues heretically that literature scholars should stop reading books and start counting, graphing, and mapping them instead. …For any given period, scholars focus on a select group of a mere few hundred texts: the canon. As a result, they have allowed a narrow distorting slice of history to pass for the total picture. Moretti offers bar charts, maps, and time lines instead, developing the idea of "distant reading" into a full-blown experiment in literary historiography, where the canon disappears into the larger literary system. Charting entire genres - the epistolary, the gothic, and the historical novel, he shows how literary history looks significantly different from what is commonly supposed…”
Not everybody's chosen literary vantage point but it is well-suited for a data-obsessed culture. And there are some surprising trends you can see when you look at data from outside the matrix (and contemporary lit criticism is nothing if not a matrix). This book is not for the faint of heart. It’s a data set story and my eyes glazed over more than once. That said, it’s a revolutionary look at how the novel has evolved…using real data. A new story emerges.
Some examples. Click to enlarge.
Metaphors We Live By by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson 1980 (Amazon)
A common theme in the American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Where Lyric Meets Language (2013) with a few of the language poets represented were comments around the failures of metaphor in language and the capricious pursuit of newly minted metaphor.
Lakoff and Johnson’s book is lots of theory but the book dissects how metaphor is absolutely ingrained not only in our language but in the very way we conceive of abstract ideas, even simple ones. The authors categorize orientation metaphors (happy is up, sad is down), motion metaphors, war metaphors.
Metaphor construction is a “fundamental mechanism of the mind” and one that language poets like to toy with. Could we communicate without them?
Yesterday I even came across the 2012 Lexicon Valley podcast on the same topic, episode #23, "Good Is Up." One listener to the show commented that "much of language is fossilized metaphor.” A very metaphorical response. The podcast covers Lakoff and Johnson book and also interviews James Geary who has probably a much easier read on the topic, I Is an Other: The Secret Life of Metaphor and How It Shapes the Way We See the World. (How the paperback is more expensive than the kindle version, we'll never understand.) But Geary says every 1-25 words. The differentiate between literary metaphors, intentional metaphors and unintentional so ancient and subconscious metaphors. During the podcast, the hosts quote from three poets. In trying to describe metaphors of time, Bob Garfield, (who you may recognize as the host of NPR's national show "All Things Considered") found this quote from Ralph Hodgson poem "Time, You Old Gipsy Man"
Time, You Old Gypsy Man
Will you not stay,
Put up your caravan
Just for one day?
Mike Vuolo found this quote:"Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day" from Pink Floyd’s lyrics to “Time” to which Bob replied, “Okay you win; I am a nerd loser.”
The culture positioning between songwriters and poets is constantly happening.
Later Mike Vuolo quoted Virgil: "But meanwhile it flees: time flees irretrievably, while we wander around, prisoners of our love of detail," (I could not find a good source for that translation). to explain the metaphors of time as movement, where time moves forward (for humans who walk forward) and from left to right on line graphs, which takes us back to Graphs Maps and Trees!
I came upon this article recently, “Poems of Resistance: A Primer” in The New York Times and it talks about a “tsunami” of poems coming out right now, both new poetry and readers looking for political resistance poetry. Such an amazing time to be writing and reading. That article points to another piece, “American Poets, Refusing to Go Gentle, Rage Against the Right.” Also in January 2017, Poetry Foundation printed its list of favorite protest poems we should all work through.
I myself have purchased multiple volumes of political anthologies.
If You Can Hear This: Poems in Protest of an American Inauguration (2017) – these are some hot-of-the press reactions to the Trumptastrophe by a diversity of writers including plenty of LGBT writers. I just finished it. It’s full of amazing poems. Some very dark, some very inspiring. Some of my favorites:
H.K Hummel’s “A Brief History of the Leer”
“Pirate Jenny” by Erik Schuckers
Jeremy Brunger’s “Gay Sex Kills Fascism”
“Pigeon” by Isiah Vianese
And the final poem, “We Know How to Do This” by Mary E. Cronin
Love Rise Up: Poems of Social Justice, Protest and Hope (2014) I just started this one and beyond some disconcerting typos, I’m amazed at how many poems are relevant and seem apropos of the current Trumptastrophe like “Seven-Hundred Mile Fence” by Eliot Khalil Wilson and “Lawrence Learns the Law” by Margaret Rozga, a poem that predates Black Lives Matter and media coverage of the black victims of police shootings but illustrates exactly the arrest issues that were occurring in Ferguson, Missouri. There are also “after-the-election" poems but they’re about Obama’s inauguration and serve to remind us of what that election meant. Trump not even a blip in the anthologies consciousness, although he had already been racist-ing it up in 2014 with his birther propaganda.
Speaking of Black Lives Matter, the beautiful anthology, Of Poetry and Protest: From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin (2016) is an amazing book of art and poetry by contemporary black writers and artists. If you’re looking for a coffee table book on Black Lives Matter as signal to your right-wing friends and relatives, this is the book. I found many new poets in here I’d like to research more, like Thomas Sayer Ellis (“The Identity Repairman”), Reginald Harris (“New Rules of the Road”), Terrance Hayes (“Some Luminous Distress”), Major Jackson (“Rose Colored City”), Quraysh Ali Lansana (“statement on the killing of patrick dorismond”), Haryette Mullen (already on my radar but is represented here with “We Are Not Responsible”), Evie Shockley (“x markst the spot”) and Lamont B. Steptoe (“Such a Boat of Land”).
Also, don’t forget Claudia Rankine’s book Citizen and Ligatures by Denise Miller.
Against Forgetting: 20th Century Poetry of Witness is an old standby, with over 700 pages of protest. This is literally the textbook on protest poetry but it can also serve as an international anthology. I’ve known about for a while but was never tempted to dive into it. Then I did a search recently for political poetry and I found a class in International Political Poetry from Portland Community College (unfortunately not available online) which listed the book in its syllabus. I’m reading it next.
It’s organized by categories of atrocity: Armenian Genocide poems, (watch for more on these poets in my Cher blog), World War I and II poems, Soviet Union revolution and repression poems, Spanish Civil War poems, Holocaust poems, repression in Eastern and Central Europe poems, dictatorship in the Mediterranean poems, Indio-Pakistani War poems, Middle East War poems, repression and revolution in Latin America poems, American civil rights and liberties poems, Korean and Vietnam War poems, African apartheid poems, and democracy in China poems.
And there’s nothing like extreme right-wing wig-outs to send you into the arm of Warren Beatty and Reds. There were pros and cons of watching this movie again since the first time at 10 years old when my parents dragged me to it. It was much less boring this time. The old talking heads are hilarious now, completely contradicting each other and misremembering history. They aren’t the stodgy authority figures I remembered them to be. Jack Nicholson: his best performance IMHO. He totally inhabits playwright Eugene O’Neill. But on the other hand, I’m also not completely “in awe of the epic” as I once was. Beatty’s direction seems a bit too much like a Woody Allen rip off now, (note the outdoor walking-and-talking scenes particularly).
I love to watch movies about writers, especially if there are scenes of them actually trying to write. Beatty, as journalist John Reed, does have scenes struggling over writing and editing, critiquing Louise Bryant’s writing (which she doesn't handle well), debating ideas (almost as much fun to watch as actual writing). There was a journalism poem recited in the movie I started looking for. I tracked down the book The Complete Poetry of John Reed. It was disappointing. His poems are amateurish and oddly un-political. “America 1918” is mostly a Whitman redux. Reed was a famous journalist and although he’s often listed as a poet, his complete works are literally only 60 pages. There’s a good poem on Manhattan. The movie Reds references two of his poems: “This Magazine of Ours” about his work for the communist magazine the Masses but it’s a frustrating read with too much abstractness about ultimate truth. The other poem referenced is his final poem before his early death, “A Letter to Louise.”
Other new resistance and protest poetry anthologies are coming out as we speak!
Poems for Political Disaster (Chapbook)
Resistance, Rebellion, Life (Out May 23)
Narcissism is in the news big time right now. It's as if the years of self-absorption have finally come home to roost. It seems like a good time to plug, Writing in the Age of Narcissism again. But first some recent articles on the topic:
Trump is an extreme narcissist, and it only gets worse from here (The Boston Globe)
Narcissists In The Workplace (Psych Central)
Me! Me! Me! Are we living through a narcissism epidemic? (The Guardian)
World events call for a change in attitude. If you're a former gunslinger looking to turn good, this is a place to start:
If you’re a poet or writer in any other form or genre, you’ve probably witnessed many modern, uncivilized behaviors from fellow students, writers and academic colleagues—their public relations gestures, their catty reviews and essays, and their often uncivil career moves. Like actors, visual artists and politicians, cut-throat pirate maneuverings have become the new normal. It’s what occurs whenever there are more people practicing an art than any particular economy can support.
The difference with writers is their ability to develop highly conceptualized, rationalizations in order to prove their worth and ideals. This isn’t a new phenomenon, but it has reached a critical mass in meaningless attempts to pull focus in a society obsessed with the show-biz spotlight.
Writing in the Age of Narcissism (72 pages) traces how the narcissism epidemic affects writers, including our gestures of post-modernism and irony, and proposes an alternative way to be a more positive writer, critic and reader.
Last Christmas I received this anthology of erotic poems, Poems to F*ck To, edited by Jason Brain (2015).
Here’s is almost 200 pages of sex poems that are much better than the red-faced, skin-blotched, badly-lit, very unromantic or sexy cover photograph implies.
Another surprise, this book was very professional laid out, (no pun intended), and, in fact, I found zero typos. Zero! This is an amazing feat for a CreateSpace book. And the anthology was lacking the many clichés I was anticipating. Some very creative descriptions and various types of sexuality were represented. There were ars poeticas and many literary references including some to Shakespeare and Georgia O’Keeffe.
These were very present poems, meaning they mostly took place in a present tense. They explored bodies, gender, and even philosophy. There were free verse poems and forms, including a memorable villainelle. Many poems were not only lustful but very wishful thinkings. But some smart poems in here, a few that reminded me of the best of Eric Jong.
I kept track of the authors and the gender breakdown (as far as I could determine):
The book was pretty evenly represented.
For such a large anthology, curated sections would have been helpful (and pleasurable).