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I live and work in DC.
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This inspires me to pick up Paz again. Thanks.
I'm enjoying these posts. I think poets need to work on their spoken delivery. And I say this as a stutterer who never reads out loud but who thinks a lot about the best way to read out loud. I think poems should be delivered with as little verbal drama as possible. If the poem has power then it does not need any verbal drama to propel it. I don't speak my poems, but I hear them clearly, and I can hear myself in my mind delivering them to an audience in a slow, even manner. Not necessarily too dry or too dignified or uppity in any way. Just devoid of drama. Many people associate poetry with drama or handwringing or mere complaint. I think poets can do a lot to improve the image of poetry if they instill some discipline into their delivery.
What a great post. I've been very troubled by the yellow journalism that attends the BP oil spill. Reading AP articles, it seems as if BP is a favorite sports team pitted against a particularly truculent opponent, go team.
>>>People feel at home doing things that they watched their parents do when they were growing up. I am very conscious of it, and since my parents / stepparents did so many nonproductive or detrimental things, I try hard to NOT be like them. It is sometimes a struggle to not respond as they to a given situation, or behave as they in an ongoing way. My father has become a gentle, kind, and wise man and most often I try to do what he does.
Over the past couple of nights I read a favorite from childhood, A Wrinkle in Time. As swell as ever. If you never read it, or if you know a ten to fourteen year old who's never read it, I recommend. It's a book I will push on niece and nephews as they get older. Bleak day in London, pasty sky, bits of rain.I got a little lost walking around today and briefly I felt a stranger's isolation, and I fell into one of those weird and useless ruminations about humanity's position in space and time. One day we will be dust, no one to remember us, the planet we walk on will be sunmelted, etc. All true (I believe) but it's pointless to worry about it. The fat red sun will eat Shakespeare, the battle of Hastings, the cowtown of Londinium, and every other English thing and every other thing on earth too. And if time is an illusion then all of this bad news has already happened, is happening now. Boo! None of this is new thinking, but when I feel lost or isolated my tendency is to think about dust, the sun, and time. To take a very large scale view of my troubles. Not too strategic and I always pull myself out of it and think more useful thoughts like Ask for directions Bourland or Why not step out of the rain, pull out the fucking map, and figure out where you are? Today I center on English things because I am in London for a few days. A lot of violence has landed on or sailed upon this island for as long as humans have lived here. Another thing about England is, it makes me think of foxes, by which I mean the small to medium-sized canids that run around the countryside, and of fox hunting, which began in England. Which makes me think -- I'm just explaining the path I took to get to the poem, below -- of Ms. Clifton's great poem A Dream of Foxes, which has nothing at all to do with England and the last part of which I give here. Enjoy. Thanks to Stacey and David for letting me write here for a while. I hope you got a chuckle out of it. a dream of foxes (last section of larger poem, A Dream of Foxes) by Lucille Clifton in the dream of foxes there is a field and a procession of women clean as good children no hollow in the world surrounded by dogs no fur clumped bloody on the ground only a lovely time of honest women stepping without fear or guilt or shame safe through the generous fields. from Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988-2000 American Poets Continuum --Eric Bourland 29 May 2010 for BAP Continue reading
Posted May 29, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
Reporting from London. Late post today. It is still Friday on the USA east coast so Friday's post is shamefully late but conceivably is still Friday's post. I spent much of Friday getting from Chicago to London by way of Ottawa, then finding my temporary living quarters here, a tucked-away hole in the wall in East Croydon. Supposedly EC is a seedy part of town but it is no seedier than places I have lived in Chicago. It feels very friendly. I think the local term for the drunk lads shouting in the street below my window is yobbos. I'm fascinated by the history of London -- it's an ancient, mystical place. It used to be a Roman hamlet. Its origins are pagan, prechristian, arguably magical. You are magic yobbos! I want to shout out the window. For a poem, which I had better post fast since the last sliver of Friday's almost gone, I've got something appropriately old and magic and a little depressing from one of the illuminated texts of William Blake. London by William Blake I wander thro' each charter'd street, Near where the charter'd Thames does flow, And mark in every face I meet Marks of weakness, marks of woe. In every cry of every Man, In every Infant's cry of fear, In every voice, in every ban, The mind-forg'd manacles I hear. How the Chimney-sweeper's cry Every black'ning Church appalls; And the hapless Soldier's sigh Runs in blood down Palace walls. But most thro' midnight streets I hear How the youthful Harlot's curse Blasts the new born Infant's tear, And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse. More about the poem -- Eric Bourland 28 May 2010 for BAP Continue reading
Posted May 28, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
Write a dream, lose a reader, so they say. I have a dream to report and it contains a lot of nudity. Would you keep reading for the promise of nudity? But without photos, only more or less descriptive text? What if the text contained enticing words like proud or well-formed or the very exciting word, wobble? I'm thinking about the Greenaway film Prospero's Books: "Knowing I lov'd my books he furnished me from mine own library volumes that I prize above my dukedom." The dream was a dukedom of books. Books and naked people (both genders, many ages), paper, wind, water and, somehow in a wet windy environment inimical to candles, candles. I won't record it here anymore, don't worry. Still reading? Here's a poem by Merrill about a dream. An old favorite. Try not to nod off! I hope you are enjoying your day. Read about Merrill at the Poetry Foundation. The Mad Scene by James Merrill Again last night I dreamed the dream called Laundry. In it, the sheets and towels of a life we were going to share, The milk-stiff bibs, the shroud, each rag to be ever Trampled or soiled, bled on or groped for blindly, Came swooning out of an enormous willow hamper Onto moon-marbly boards. We had just met. I watched From outer darkness. I had dressed myself in clothes Of a new fiber that never stains or wrinkles, never Wears thin. The opera house sparkled with tiers And tiers of eyes, like mine enlarged by belladonna, Trained inward. There I saw the cloud-clot, gust by gust, Form, and the lightning bite, and the roan mane unloosen. Fingers were running in panic over the flute's nine gates. Why did I flinch? I loved you. And in the downpour laughed To have us wrung white, gnarled together, one Topmost mordent of wisteria, As the lean tree burst into grief. from Collected Poems Alfred A. Knopf, 2001 -- Eric Bourland 27 May 2010 for BAP Continue reading
Posted May 27, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
It is easy to preface a text, any text, with an aphorism or three to lend the text a little gravity. When I see a book whose individual chapters are chaperoned by aphorisms I get a little worried about the book. Should I read the chapters or just the aphorisms? A carefully chosen aphorism can shape a reader's understanding of a story in a pleasing or surprising way. But most of the books I have loved as a reader don't need supporting aphorisms. I have three aphorisms to share. After the aphorisms, a dubious and lightweight text that requires the gravity which these aphorisms have been recruited to lend. The aphorisms and the DALT are about: wobbling. In walking, just walk. In sitting, just sit. Above all, don't wobble. -- proverb, attr. Yunmen Wenyan Whatever you are, be a good one. -- Abraham Lincoln If you want to do something, do it! -- Plautus My left leg is an inch longer than my right, which makes me stand lopsided. This discrepancy in leg length was more pronounced -- an inch and a half I think? -- when I was younger. Then the left leg got broken and when it knit back together I still stood lopsided, listing to starboard, but less so. When I stand straight I stand on the strained extension of my lifted right foot and the flat certainty of my left. This is my ongoing effort to not wobble. Do I wobble sometimes? I'm wobbling as I write this. If you absolutely never wobble then you are, well, a sociopath or a machine. I think a controlled wobble is productive and nourishing. (Also I have only nine toes, which startles some people, but I think of my tetradactyl right foot as a key that fits a lock somewhere. That's a weird internal ideation I won't bug you with anymore.) The proverb says Don't wobble. I think it is OK to wobble but sometimes you should wobble privately, and in public stand or sit up as straight as your legs or spine allow. Here's another aphorism about wobbling, this time from Ozzy Osbourne, who sang: Everyone goes through changes. Looking to find the truth. Don't look at me for answers. Don't ask me. I don't know. Hmm. That's not too helpful from Ozzy. But here is a beautiful poem by Adam Kirsch I hope you enjoy. Indecision by Adam Kirsch What more on a summer afternoon Could I require? Light without heat, my work-week done, A free desire, And the world from my balcony composed Like a Renaissance Picture, the elements disposed With significance Too obvious to miss: the trees Are Nature's beauty; My notebook the imperious Summons to Duty. Neither could Lust's abrupt demands Have been omitted: A sunbathing girl on the next roof stands, My gaze permitted As though she did not notice it; and last The stereo Is playing Mozart's movements, fast Then aching-slow, A sign for the already adequate Engrossing Past. Everything's given, though... Continue reading
Posted May 26, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
I used to work in the corporate world, I worked hard for them, numbing work in the service of well-cloaked mendacity, and in exchange for my crumpled-in soul they offered me something called an IRA. They kept offering me the IRA and I kept refusing because if I took the IRA then that would mean I acquiesced to a crumpled-in soul, to mendacity, but they were real worried that I did not have the IRA and they kept pushing it at me like a piece of pie. What the heck is an IRA? I asked them, genuinely baffled and curious. Individual retirement account. OK then. What is that and why do I need it? I kept asking them. I had a meeting with them. Human Resources was there, looking so dapper and friendly I wanted to punch him. Finance was there, taking a break from his powerful job of managing money. Human Resources wore a gold tie; Finance, a red tie. Greedy cocksuckers. I wanted to punch them. I get real violent around greedy condescending cocksuckers like that. I wanted to lunge teethfirst across the table at their throats and make the evening news. Two corpses and broken teeth! I asked, What is an IRA? They could not tell me. They described in vague terms the various benefits that an IRA would give me over time but they were never able to articulate in plain English the definition of an IRA. An IRA is? I prompted them. An IRA is? They could not finish the sentence. That was because they did not know either. It took me a while to figure that out about them. The Finance Guy did not know what an IRA was. The Human Resources guy did not know. They did not know then and probably now they still do not know. They don't have to know. They can do their jobs perfectly well without knowing. That was a long time ago. I'm smarter now, I play ball, I'm nonviolent, except when I scream and throw shit. Like just now I got real mad thinking about condescending greedy cocksuckers in gold ties and condescending greedy cocksuckers in red ties and I went into the living room and picked up the couch and pitched it out the window, the glass busted out, the screen busted out, the couch went flying out the window. I just defenestrated the fucking couch. Raaaaaah! I hope I crushed a greedy cocksucker. I still don't know what an IRA is. But now, see, in agreeable middle age I do have an IRA and each month I send money to it. I send money and the money gets swallowed away in a nilspace with an audible gustatory belch and, barrupp! it's gone. But that gone-ness, that pecuniary insider-trading wink-nudge old-boy nilspace emptiness, puts me in a place where I can hazard a definition of an IRA. An IRA is a tesseract. No, that won't do. It is not a tesseract. But it is an... Continue reading
Posted May 25, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
In my life there has been more than one woman I wanted to telephone over and over one thousand times in the space of 24 hours and propose feverish marriage. Guess how fast any of those ladies would have slapped a restraining order on me? I love you! I perish! Why is the sheriff here? "...and ask her if she'll marry me in some oldfashioned way." I won't even get into the dangling modifier. Because I have the sense of humor of a twelve year old, "Sting's Dangling Modifier" is pretty funny to me. Sting is debonair, wealthy, talented, and famous. I bet he can call his lady one thousand times in a single day and she puts up with it as long as he calls on his own mobile minutes. I've never called anyone a thousand times, not even Blue Cross Blue Shield last April when they screwed me out of three thousand dollars, those stingy bastards. Sometimes I'm punctilious to a stupid degree about grammar. It annoys the hell out of everybody. Makes people self-conscious. But Sting gives us: Every little thing she does is magic Everything she do just turns me on Even though my life before was tragic Now I know my love for her goes on Kinda gets ya right in the heart doesn't it? Sting is fabulous. And, now, the complete text of all of Sting's romantic lyrical masterpieces -- kidding! How about one of my favorite poems, called Marriage, by Gregory Corso. It ain't Sting but I hope you enjoy. (Learn more about Gregory Corso at the useful Poetry Foundation web site.) Marriage by Gregory Corso Should I get married? Should I be good? Astound the girl next door with my velvet suit and faustus hood? Don't take her to movies but to cemeteries tell all about werewolf bathtubs and forked clarinets then desire her and kiss her and all the preliminaries and she going just so far and I understanding why not getting angry saying You must feel! It's beautiful to feel! Instead take her in my arms lean against an old crooked tombstone and woo her the entire night the constellations in the sky -- When she introduces me to her parents back straightened, hair finally combed, strangled by a tie, should I sit with my knees together on their 3rd degree sofa and not ask Where's the bathroom? How else to feel other than I am, often thinking Flash Gordon soap -- O how terrible it must be for a young man seated before a family and the family thinking We never saw him before! He wants our Mary Lou! After tea and homemade cookies they ask What do you do for a living? Should I tell them? Would they like me then? Say All right get married, we're losing a daughter but we're gaining a son -- And should I then ask Where's the bathroom? O God, and the wedding! All her family and her friends and only a... Continue reading
Posted May 24, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
We've read Bukowski. Awful man. Drunk, violent, pornographic. Obsessed with redheads. Reviled in the academe. Time magazine called him a laureate of American lowlife. Look at him. What a gluttonous face. He can't consume enough. On the other hand most of his poems get it right. Some of those poems kick you in the gut and you ache for the rest of the day. That's what this reader gets from Bukowski anyway. A few weeks ago because I could not find my old copy of it I bought another copy of Bukowski's Love is a Dog From Hell. When I opened the book what fell out was a Safety Information Notice for a Clear Glass Aquarium. No date given. No explanation. It was Bukowski's Safety Information Notice for a Clear Glass Aquarium, weird and random and falling out of the book like it demanded to be noticed and read. Here are excerpts (language warning): The filled weight of an aquarium is approximately 10 to 12 pounds per gallon. When you fill your aquarium use ROOM TEMPERATURE BEER. (typical aquarium set-up condensation warning --EB) Use an approved aquarium stand. The filled weight of the fucking aquarium is 10 to 12 pounds per gallon of beer. Don't just put it on the fucking bookshelf. It will fall the fuck over. Don't fuck around with the aquarium. Put water in it, put fish in it, fill it with booze for chrissakes just don't fuck around with it. The aquarium's the one thing you got going for you. No fucking on the aquarium. You find the sonofawhore who stole my Volks you contact me I'm gonna come there chop off his head put it in the aquarium for the fucking fish to eat. Fuck. A redhead can do anything she wants with the aquarium. She wants the aquarium, even if she wants to dump out all the fish and all the water and smash the aquarium to a thousand pieces in the street outside your fleabag room cause she's pissed about something you said, just give her the aquarium. It's hers, just like you. Here's Bukowski's like a flower in the rain. like a flower in the rain by Charles Bukowski I cut the middle fingernail of the middle finger right hand real short and I began rubbing along her cunt as she sat upright in bed spreading lotion over her arms face and breasts after bathing. then she lit a cigarette: "don't let this put you off," and smoked and continued to rub the lotion on. I continued to rub the cunt. "you want an apple?" I asked. "sure," she said, "you got one?" but I got to her -- she began to twist then she rolled on her side, she was wet and open like a flower in the rain. the she rolled on her stomach and her most beautiful ass looked up at me and I reached under and got the cunt again. she reached around and got my cock, she... Continue reading
Posted May 23, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
Go Bill. I'm glad he's reading, and takes it seriously.
It looks like a really great time. Wish I coulda been there.
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Mar 14, 2010