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Jordan Davis
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I reject the suggestion that Koch needed distraction gambits to win at table tennis. He was an extremely focused competitor who used all of the table. As for his ranking, I have not had it confirmed whether he ever played ping pong against Ron Padgett, Gary Lenhart, or Chris Edgar, three tennis-playing New York School poets. I'll ask.
I first met Alison Stine in Austin, Texas, six years ago, having just missed being introduced to her two years before that in Chicago. Her poems are unlike any I'd known before then -- as her teacher Brigit Pegeen Kelly once remarked, she has a perfect ear. She is the author of two collections of poetry, the Vassar Miller Prize-winning Ohio Violence (UNT Press), and the Brittingham Award-winning Wait (Wisconsin). We spoke at our home in southeastern Ohio at ten p.m. last night. Q. So when did you first realize you could work out the ends of stories in the... Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
Thanks, David. Envy is a constant in Poetryland, most definitely, and as toxic there as anywhere else. If I were going to have a complaint, which I'm not, but speaking hypothetically, it would be that poetry can always be grander, livelier, and truer than it has been. The concern with status and the next opportunity each poet feels seems, hypothetically of course, to get in the way of everyone's total focus on being delightful. As we know, and contrary to this hypothetical complaint, poetry is too strong too resilient to be kept down by poets for too long. It breaks through.
Required viewing for today's post: Flarf. Not a lot of middle ground in Poetryland on flarf -- you either hate it or you quote it. Even the name is rage litmus. I’ve given up defending it -- as a logical consequence of language poetry, as a healthy reaction to the moralizing one-upmanship of poetry communities, as a way out of what I’ve referred to elsewhere as the cul de sac. Now I just watch it filter into the culture. Not much else to do, really -- flarf is dead. I caught up with flarf co-founder Gary Sullivan last week for... Continue reading
Posted Feb 24, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
“Hello America let’s tell the truth!” -- Peter Schjeldahl, “To the National Arts Council” The correct answer, when asked about any poet living or dead, is “I love them.” Ask any poet you’ve ever heard of about any other poet you’ve ever heard of, and if they know what’s good for them, that’s how they’ll respond. (If they don’t, you probably won’t hear of them much longer, at least not about their poetry.) That said, I have never yet met a poet entirely satisfied with the state of affairs in Poetryland, myself excluded. I love it and know it to... Continue reading
Posted Feb 23, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
Whew! I forgot how much work blogging is. Thank goodness it's Wednesday, half time. Speaking of which -- great billboard at the MD/WV border showing the WVU logo and the score from the Orange Bowl, with the legend: "Seventy isn't just our speed limit." Still here? Let me get out the good stuff. (Don't tell everyone who left early that they missed out. Actually, yes, tell them.) Here's poet-musician (and the houseband of my old talk show) Franklin Bruno singing "Two Knives." More writing tomorrow, and more videos after the jump... Kris Kristofferson is a natural resource, on a level... Continue reading
Posted Feb 22, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
“She read my mind and slapped my face...” -- Bill Cox and Cliff Hobbs Here’s the thing: whatever you feel when you’re writing comes through for the reader, whether you or the reader are conscious of it or not. We have a mockingbird who comes to the porch feeders. Back when we had a bluebird house, the mockingbird ran off all the cowbirds and brown-headed blackbirds that monopolized the feeders and tried to substitute their eggs for the ones the bluebirds left. He’s got some nerve, and he keeps his own schedule. Months go by without a song, then he... Continue reading
Posted Feb 21, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
For “obscure poetry” read “dignity.” Read “personal information.” Say exactly what you mean, tell it exactly as it happened. You don’t have to hedge on specifics out of fear the reader won’t know what you’re talking about. Whatever provoked the poem, whatever cliff face you clung to in the night after your saint’s day, name it. Any strange name will be found, now. Here, have some Kaiserschmarrn. That time you fell asleep on the subway. Days in Zuccotti Park. The spectacular breakup and the aftershocks, the friends egging each of them on. Or just the overdue fines on Irony, Contingency... Continue reading
Posted Feb 20, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
Eighty is a mild road. There are a few scraped hills that verge on picturesque, there are cooling towers, there are valleys strewn with silage and barns. The speed traps all telegraph themselves a mile away except for that one hummock outside Buckhorn. Tree-covered ridges look nice in sun, clouds, mud, best of all after an ice storm, of which I think there must have been one a week all winter last year. But the monotony! The changes -- in elevation, in landscape, in the local papers -- are so gradual they don't take any effort. The highway food doesn't... Continue reading
Posted Feb 19, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
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Feb 17, 2012