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The Best American Poetry
Welcome to The Best American Poetry blog. We launched this blog in January, 2008, to create a place where we and friends can exchange, discuss, and argue about poems and poetry. We soon discovered that it would be even more fun to post about anything that fuels our passions, be it movies or sex or baseball or ballet or cocktails or finance or music, because these are, after all, the same subjects that generate poems. Then we flung the doors open and invited others to join in. And we decided that contributors to the blog need not be poets as long as they share a love of good writing and poetry. The only things we ask our regular and guest bloggers to avoid are personal attacks. You'll find enough of that stuff elsewhere. We celebrate freedom of expression. The opinionS of our contributors are their own and not necessarily those of the blog's editorial team or of other contributors. We welcome comments as long as they keep within the bounds of civil discourse. Our roster of correspondents is always changing. We are large! We contain multitudes! Please visit often.Our roster of correspondents is always changing. We are large! We contain multitudes! Please visit often.
Interests: music, food, finance, cocktails, movies, baseball, sex, poetry, mad men.
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From the 2013 issue of Virginia Quarterly Review: <<< In the heady days leading up to and including the catastrophe of World War I, when Paris was the capital of modern art, the poet Guillaume Apollinaire (1880–1918) stood at the vital center of a gang of writers and artists who embraced the future with such tremendous energy that avant-garde became an adjective of glamour and prestige. Apollinaire—whose circle included painters (Picasso, Derain, Vlaminck) and composers (Satie, Poulenc) as well as poets (Blaise Cendrars, Max Jacob, Pierre Reverdy)—was a superb activist and agitator. He championed Cubism and gave Surrealism its name. In 1917, his edition of Charles Baudelaire’s poems linked the two men as kindred spirits, city poets who doubled as art critics; Baudelaire prefigured Apollinaire as the latter prefigures Frank O’Hara. Also in 1917, Apollinaire issued his manifesto, “The New Spirit and the Poets,” making the case for innovation as a transcendent value. Poetry had to keep up with the technological advances of the day—the cinema, the radio, the motorcar, the flying machine. Driving with a friend from Deauville to Paris in “La Petite Auto,” Apollinaire writes that “the little car had driven us into a New epoch / and though both of us were grown men / it was as if we had just been born.” Apollinaire experimented with audacious techniques for generating verse. On occasion he would sit in a café and weave overheard phrases into the composition. For his book Calligrammes, he made shaped poems—poems that looked like a mirror, a heart, the rainfall, a pocket-watch. In his most ambitious discursive poems, he wins over the reader by modifying his self-pity with his wit and ebullience. There is a rare combination of enthusiasm and melancholy in Apollinaire’s self-presentation. A line from his poem “Les Collines” (“The Hills”) is etched into his tombstone at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris: “Je peux mourir en souriant”—“I can die with a smile on my face.” “Zone,” the central poem in Apollinaire’s career, prefaces his collection Alcools, the title of which translates literally as “Spirits” in the alcoholic sense though I would argue for “Cocktails.” Alcools is in any case an apt title for one who likes to boast that he has “drunk the universe” and chanted “songs of universal drunkenness.” Published in 1913, the year Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring had its Paris premiere, “Zone” is chronologically the last poem in the collection to have been written. The poet was thirty-three years old, the age of Dante embarking on his tour of the afterlife. The poem doesn’t so much praise its objects of futurist desire—the Eiffel Tower, airplanes, a railway terminal—as treat them like pastoral motifs. The heart of the poem is not in the future at all but in a past recollected in anxiety and sadness. “Zone” heralds a striking new direction in Apollinaire’s work. He discards punctuation to good effect. He refers to himself sometimes as I, sometimes as you (both tu and vous in French), a habit that held... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at The Best American Poetry
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Dear Amy, The finale: Is Om the answer? Let’s start with the montage of images at the end. There’s Don standing before the mighty Pacific Ocean, a smile on his face, possibly devilish, possibly just a smile. Then there’s Don in a group of a dozen men and women in lotus position receiving the blessings of the morning sunlight and chanting Om. The trinity of images is completed with what is arguably the greatest TV commercial of all time: a chorus of multinational kids singing “I’d like to teach the world to sing / in prefect harmony” and “I’d like to give the world a Coke” and then the tag line, “It’s the real thing!” The commercial made its TV debut in 1971. The ambiguity of the ending is perfect for our hero, who may, reverting to his character as we’ve come to know it, return to Madison Ave. armed with a new vernacular derived from his experience at Esalen in Big Sur, or wherever Don and Anna Draper’s niece Stephanie have gone for spiritual healing and group therapy. On this view, Don gets to work on the Coke account after all and this is what he comes up with – a good idea made great by the composer and writer of the jingle. (As it happens, McCann Erickson produced the commercial.) But it is also possible, as no causality is given, that doing such work for Coca-Cola is precisely what our rootless wanderer has renounced in his journey westward – first to Racine (which means “root” in French), Wisconsin, and then to various locales in the Midwest and finally to California, up the coast from LA -- as he discards his property, his clothes, his car, and reaches the ideal nothingness of Existentialism or King Lear from the Fool’s point of view. Is Om the answer? In that case, as Gertrude Stein would say, what is the question? I have to interrupt myself. When the commercial came out I was living in Paris. At the time there were commercials before the feature film in Paris movie theaters, and it is was in its French translation, in a Left Bank theater, that I first heard the Coke jingle – “Soif d’aujourd’hui” (“Thirst today” or “Today’s Thirst”) to the tune of “it’s the real thing.” That same year I read Henry James’s story “The Real Thing.” I had the idea of writing a piece comparing the two things, the Coke “real thing” commercial and the James story. I still think it’s a good idea, though I never brought it to fruition. It was, by the way, a Coke machine that Don fixed in last week’s episode, showing off his mechanical prowess. A second digression but quicker: how well do I recall the obnoxious encounter groups of the period! Phony, embarrassing, fascistic in their drive toward conformity, power struggles concealed beneath a veneer of gentleness and concern, nasty revelations (“I kidnapped my girlfriend's son and drove past state boundaries”) papered over and... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at The Best American Poetry
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"There is nothing perhaps so generally consoling to a man as a well-established grievance; a feeling of having been injured, on which his mind can brood.” -- Anthony Trollope, Orley Farm Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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(Ed note: this message comes to me from my dear friend Paul Tracy Danison, an American who has lived and worked in Paris for decades. He offers this service, which I encourage you to try during your next trip abroad. sdh) Take a Paris walk American, I am a management coach living and working in Paris, France. When I am feeling up or down, I walk. When I need to think, I walk. When I need to walk, I think. A good walk irons out most small and big existential wrinkles. Paris is the best place I've ever been for this. It enables food, drink, new ideas and entertainment between the pricklier points on the psychic map. All this is why, all-American that I remain, I live in Paris. The walking is good and the city lends some of its elegance and beauty to conclusions, decisions & actions. I would like to offer you the opportunity to try a coaching based on my personal practice. Here's how to set it up. Send me a theme - a single word will do: 'Balzac' - and I'll send you a walking proposition (street corner to street corner) as well as whatever recommendations might come to mind, and coordinates, conditions and tariffs. Contact email: walktotalkitthrough@gmail.com We'll then do a short telephone interview to clarify needs & expectations. Aller se promener à Paris Américain de pure souche, je pratique le coaching professionnel à Paris où j'ai choisi depuis longtemps déjà de démarrer une nouvelle vie. Quand le blues et/ou la joie, majuscules, me gagnent, j’aime marcher pour me remettre en mouvement, me donner une perspective. Ainsi, quand j'ai besoin de réfléchir, je marche. Et quand j’ai besoin de marcher, je le mets à profit pour réfléchir. Une bonne balade me redonne du sens, de la cohérence, retisse le fil de la réflexion. Paris est la meilleure ville au monde pour la marche, la mise en mouvement personnelle et historique. Cette ville laisse toujours l’empreinte de sa beauté et de son élégance aux décisions prises et aux actions engagées. Je voudrais proposer à mes clients l'opportunité de se faire accompagner selon ma pratique personnelle: faire un bout du chemin ensemble – (belle phrase de la RATP). Voici comment je vous propose de procéder. Envoyez moi une idée, un thème - un mot, 'mousquetaires', fera l'affaire - et je vous renvoie une proposition de balade, de déambulation, de réflexion (carrefour à carrefour) aussi bien que des recommandations, s'il en y a, et mes coordonnées, et mon tarif. Contactez-moi par mail : walktotalkitthrough@gmail.com Nous ferons un petit entretien téléphonique afin d'établir vos besoins et vos attentes avant de s'engager. Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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Jewish Poets on Jewish Poets Thursday, June 11 | 6:30–8pm Free with Museum admission; $5 after 5pm. Bill Berkson envisioned this night of local Jewish poets reading the work of deceased Jewish Poets*. Readings by CJM Chief Curator Renny Pritikin, Maxine Chernoff, Suzanne Stein, Alan Bernheimer, Susan Gevirtz, Norman Fisher, Norma Cole, Alli Warren, David Meltzer, and Bill Berkson. Presented in conjunction with Bound to be Held. *Some of those likely to be included: Gertrude Stein, Allen Ginsberg, Edmund Jabes, Joel Oppenheimer, Charles Reznikoff [pictured, above left], Carl Rakosi, Louis Zukofsky, George Oppen, Emma Lazarus, Nelly Sachs, Paul Celan, Adrienne Rich, Max Jacob, Robert Desnos, Samuel Menashe, Heinrich Heine, Osip Mandelstam, Boris Pasternak, Delmore Schwartz, F. T. Prince. Dorothy Parker, Kathy Acker, Kenneth Koch, and illustrious others. . . , Goldman Hall Contemporary Jewish Museum 736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 415.655.7800 Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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Dear Amy, As we approach the end of the season, end of the series – game, set, and match -- I move that we keep in mind that a “terminal” is a noun as well as an adjective, a bus depot and therefore a place of origin as well as a destination and an end. It’s like the bus stop in the middle of no place where we see Don at episode’s end. You almost expect him to be ready to run across cornfield while a crop-duster attacks, like Cary Grant in North by Northwest, another handsome urban advertising man in a perfectly tailored suit. Betty is, alas, terminal in the nasty sense of the word. There will be no new beginnings for her. Joan has lost her job and maybe her career in advertising. But Joan is nothing if not resourceful, and her talents, too good for the paleolithic types at McCann Erickson (ME for short), are such that she may re-launch herself spectacularly. But Betty is through. Lung cancer. Betty will die because of the product that Don’s firm used to service. And oddly enough, Betty – a tireless complainer and natural plaintiff – is OK with the dire forecast. Almost serene. Maybe it’s because of the Freud she’s been reading. Or maybe she is a belated convert to stoicism. Pete is an apparent convert to Boy Scout ethics and he seems so boyishly earnest it looks like he’ll get the fabled American second-chance to make a go of it with Trudy. The pair and their toddler will uproot themselves to go where Pete’s new job takes them: Wichita, Kansas. The job comes with great perks – a company jet! – but still. For those of us who cannot forget the disgraceful, or conceited, or bullying, or malignant, or just clueless and gauche way he has behaved, Wichita may seem like punishment enough. The bars close early in Wichita, Pete, and they don’t measure up to the places you’re accustomed to, where you can close a deal over martinis and shrimp cocktails, moving your finger in a circle to signal to the tuxedo-clad waiter that it’s time for another round. “Wichita is beautiful – and wholesome.” Indeed. But this wholesome new life isn’t necessarily terminal. Would you bet on the marriage of Trudy and Pete in the heart of Kansas? Henry, in denial over the death sentence Betty accepts, is not a convert to anything. He remains as sweetly loyal as a retriever and must have something going for him beyond his steadfast attachment to Betty, whom he sincerely worships. He remains an adviser on Rocky’s staff – that’s the governor of New York we’re talking about, and the most consequential man to hold the post in the last century. Henry has influence. He is not stupid. He can see right through Lindsay, who was able to walk through Harlem with his head held high and an amiable grin when other cities (Newark, Detroit) were hosting riots, because... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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The day hostess at the Washington, DC Smith & Wollensky was a former Playboy Playmate named Elaine. Well into her 60s, her waist still curved in suggestively. Her breasts were high-set and firm (whether by push-up bra or genetics, I don’t know, though I’m guessing a mixture of both). When I was hired as the evening hostess, she eyed me with a look of both contempt and intimacy - she hated me, she hated herself, etc. “How long have you been working here?” I asked. “Since my last husband,” she said. There was no indication of how much time had elapsed within the word “since”, no clue as to whether he was dead or simply no longer her husband. I took the job at Smith & Wollensky the summer I graduated as a stop-gap between college and my “dream job.” I stayed well into winter, even after I procured the 9-to-5 at a small publishing house on Capitol Hill. Having not worked in food service since I was 16, adult restaurant life was an ongoing sitcom of sex and late nights and making fun of people who made more in a day than most of us made in a year. Though I never consciously entertained the thought, I know I believed I’d find a rich husband working there. It was one of the fanciest, most storied steakhouses in Washington, DC - just off the main drag of powerful law firms and NGOs on K Street. Evenings saw a regular patronage of attorneys, chiefs-of-staff, senators. A German prince dined there every time he was stateside, wearing a floor-length fur coat even in warm weather. Once, Governor Mitt Romney came in with his detail, a cast of muscled young Boston men straight out of Good Will Hunting. There was also a glut of pharmaceutical executives, newly wealthy and almost always slimy, hosting over-the-top parties in our event rooms. I was regularly tipped for no reason or given a bottle of expensive champagne with a wink from some some sweaty, tie-loosened bro on his way out the door. My powerfully feminist ideals were dulled by the starched glamour of the Smith & Wollensky clientele. This, coupled with the reality of being on my own for the first time. I had just moved in with my boyfriend, who was still an undergraduate, and felt that sudden rush of post-grad loneliness. He still had the structure of school, the promise of a future that academics offers. I was angry with him, regularly, for living a reasonable life. I also developed a crush on one of the waiters. His name was Joshua - not Josh, but Joshua. He was a struggling writer (of course), working there only until he finished his novel. He had a dog named Sundown. Unlike most of the other waiters, who were gassy and brash and had accepted a life of high-end servitude, Joshua and I were still young and bright. We were in on the joke, not the butt of it.... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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Friday May 15th 7:00pm – 9:00pm Address: 3620 Mt. Diablo Blvd. Lafayette CA 94549 Phone: 925.284.1485 eMail:jp@jenniferperlmuttergallery.com This just in: Jennifer Perlmutter Gallery is hosting award winning writer, poet Amy Glynn for a reading / talk / degustation. The topic: the apple, its complex symbolism and what it can teach us about human behavior. There will be drinks. There will be snacks. And there will be TAROT READINGS by the lovely Benebell Wen, whose book “Holistic Tarot” is a great resource not only for the card-curious but for writers, philosophers, and anyone interested in the role of archetypes in the human psyche. What a pairing! THIS WILL BE A FUN ONE! -- sdh Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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Since the inception of the MFA in Creative Writing program at The New School, alumni from each graduating class have gone on to create influential websites, magazines, and presses. Here is a representative — though far from comprehensive— look at some of those projects. Continue reading to discover which publications should be on your nightstand . . . Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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Michael Lally scores big with his new collection, Swing Theory, just out from Hanging Loose Press. Lally's fans have come to expect certain pleasures from this gregarious, theatrical, funny, sometimes pugnacious master of the contemporary American idiom. The new book opens with a brilliant and very characteristic effort, "Before You Were Born." The recurrence of that phrase (or variants thereof) structures the poem. The assertive speaker refuses "to give up / the life of a poet and get a job, / but I already did that / before you were a gob of spit / hanging from the lip of / Charles Bukowski who had a / nice secure job at the post office back then." There's a double surprise here -- first the "gob of spit," then the invocation of Bukowski as either a role model or an anti-hero. It's funny but there is sadness, too, in the opposition of the speaker to a "you" who is younger and -- if only by implication -- less original, less daring, and more glibly "avant-garde." Lally's poems flow from his refusal to give up "the life of a poet" and his determination to annotate it. But it is not only this cri de coeur, important though it is, that aligns him with the New York School. A hallmark of the New York aesthetic is the interior monologue projected outward into a theatrical soliloquy. Frank O'Hara was the master of this maneuver -- all conversational grace and ease. One of Lally's major strengths is his skill as a conversationalist in verse. He is totally engaging -- chatty, direct, boastful as Whitman but ironically self-aware in the manner of O'Hara. To clinch the deal, or to illustrate it cunningly, I would give you the final part of "The Geese Don't Fly South" -- the part that may be said to begin with the line "Thank God for Turner Classic Movies" and to continue for sixty-eight more lines in which these subjects come up: the armed services, heroes, Hollywood, family trees, Hurricane Katrina, the novels of Walter Scott, and the war journalism of Martha Gellhorn -- but rather than quote it, let me encourage you to acquire the book, and I will just say here that there is a second New York School quality that Swing Theory exemplifies, and that is the reconciliation of the colloquial with the use of verse forms to restrain and give focus to the imagination. Lally has a particular affinity for the sonnet and the sonnet sequence. In Swing Theory you will find "The Jimmy Schuyler Sonnets" (a group of five), "The 2008 Sonnets" (eleven), and "The San Francisco Sonnets (1962)" (five). From the last named, consider this nugget: "She said if I read Herman / Hesse's Steppenwolf it would change my life." The statement will catapult you back to the mind-set of the early 1960s whether you had the experience in real time or not. Jerome Sala is on the mark when he speaks of the "jazzy rhythms... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
I just heard Bobby Darin sing "Beyond the Sea" -- wonderful song translated from the French of Charles Trenet -- followed by Sinatra's "Summer Wind." It seems worth pointing out that neither song was on the "A side" of its 45 rpm record. For 200 Monopoly dollars and the pleasure that goes with being absolutely right, identify the songs on the A sides of "Beyond the Sea" and "Summer Wind": 1) "Love Me Tender" and "Witchcraft" 2) "Splish-Splash" and "Hey Jealous Lover" 3) "Mack the Knife" and "Strangers in the Night"4) "Dream lover" and "High Hopes" Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
I continue to be inspired by Auden, Stevens, Bishop, MacNeice, Marianne Moore, Dylan Thomas, etc., the list goes on, but I don’t often read them. Once something has inspired you, that’s it. Somebody (maybe me) once described the situation as like standing on the deck of a ship that’s pulling away from shore, smiling and waving at friends who are waving back at you. They still love you and vice versa, but they can’t come along. -- sdh from the New York Times Book Review, May 7, 2015 Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
We're having a simile contest -- a contest for the best short poem that is simile-driven. Either a poem consisting of all similes or a poem that goes to town with just one. Consider these thoughts from "Next Line, Please," the part of the American Scholar's website devoted to our weekly contest: <<< Similes are underrated in contemporary writing. Well, maybe all rhetorical figures are underrated. The neglect of rhetorical devices, verse forms, rhyme, and other “adjuncts or ornaments” (as Milton would have it) is lamentable, but it does create a compelling opportunity for contemporary poets eager to embrace change and renew a past tradition. You can distinguish yourself from your peers just by making good use of similes. A great simile opens a poem or narrative in a vertical way—it doesn’t advance the argument or plot so much as it deepens it. Whether introduced by “like” or “as” or through some other means (“the size of a grapefruit”), the simile adds a complicating element even as it appears to clarify matters. It can resemble a detour—or a shortcut. It should surprise and should not repeat expressions already in use. Paradoxically, the simile can work to illustrate a thought or image—which is, after all, its stated function—yet it can overshadow the thought or image to which it was supposedly a subordinate element. Like the bridge in a jazz standard, it can surpass in beauty or inventiveness the primary melody, as happens in “Body and Soul” and “Skylark.” For brilliant similes, albeit in prose, I would recommend Mary McCarthy’s The Company She Keeps—in which she tells us, for instance, that her heroine was the victim of a certain man’s “conscience, as Isaac very nearly was of Abraham’s.” The religious and philosophical concerns of this author are front and center in a sentence that very surprisingly uses scientific means to explain a moral proposition: “To know God and yet do evil, this was the very essence of the Romantic life, a kind of electrolytical process in which the cathode and the anode act and react upon one another to ionize the soul.” An enterprising professor could build half a college course around that sentence. Nearly every page of A. J. Liebling’s great book on boxing, The Sweet Science, can boast a refreshing, inventive simile or two. Example: “But Attell, who looks at you with cold eyes around his huge beak that is like a toucan’s with a twisted septum, is not a sentimental man.” >>>For more about the simle -- and the contest -- click here. Please enter! -- DL Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
Here, from Poetry Daily, are the opening paragraphs of the foreword of The Best American Poetry 1992. From David Lehman's book, just out from the University of Pittsburgh Press,The State of the Art: A Chronicle of American Poetry, 1988-2014. I remember when the Carter administration invited several hundred poets to the White House for a celebration of American poetry. There was a reception, handshakes with the president, the pop of flashbulbs. Concurrent poetry readings in various White House rooms capped off the festivities. In each room a few poets had been asked to read. The rest of the poets, the ones who hadn't been asked to read, could attend the reading of their choice. A year later, Jimmy Carter lost the presidency. I used to think that this incident was a parable for poetry in our time. It seemed to make the point that poets were the only real audience poetry had and that they were implicitly in different camps, having to contend with one another for what little audience there was. I no longer feel so defeatist about poetry's prospects. I believe that American poetry has a true readership beyond its own practitioners and that furthermore it would be impertinent to behave as though this readership were necessarily restricted to an academic ghetto. This is not to deny the existence of a problem but to suggest that perhaps the problem has been ill defined. It is not that American poetry lacks distinction or variety or potential readers; it is that the task of reaching this readership requires a plan as imaginative in its way as the verse on the pages of the books that publishers continue to publish, with reluctance in some cases and with something like ardor in others. To continue click here http://poems.com/special_features/prose/essay_lehman_1992.php Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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Today's comic is from the last line of Shelley's "Epipsychidion," of which David Lehman writes in The State of the Art: "Just as Shelley's outburst of self pity can blunt the wondrous force of his enjambed couplets, so the unsavory facts of his personal life (he abandoned the young bride, who committed suicide) have acted as a check on a young poet's enthusiasm for the author of 'Ode to the West Wind,' 'Ozymandias,' and 'The Triumph of Life.'" NA Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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Katsushika Hokusai's "The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife" Dear A., I can’t resist opening with Jenny Factor, who met “Mad Men” show-runner Matt Weiner at a Harvard symposium last week. Jenny was armed with a planted question: “Given that Don's real name is Whitman, and that Michael Ginsberg has the same name as Allen, was Matt thinking of Harold Hart Crane when giving a name to media maven Harry Crane?” Matt shook his head no; he wasn’t thinking of poets’ names. He said, “Whitman was quite simply “White Man.” He added: “Don’s fundamental questions are ‘Is this it?’ and ‘What’s wrong with me?’” Meanwhile, Don Draper’s latest love hails from Racine, Wisconsin – Racine (French for “root”) being the name of one of France’s most honored dramatists. But no doubt this is entirely a coincidence. To this observer, the abhorrent treatment of Joan at the hands of the McCann Ericson creeps was the dominant note in episode #5. First there’s Dennis, who fails to read the briefs Joan has prepared, interrupts her phone conversation with her client, and offends him, the Atlanta-based Avon man confined to a wheelchair, by suggesting that they play a few rounds of golf at Augusta. Dennis has ruined the telephonic encounter —and then he has the gall to be testy when Joan calls him on it. So Joan brings her problem to Ferg Donnelly. Bad choice. Ferg is only too happy to get Dennis off the case, but he nominated himself instead and leeringly proposes that the and Joan fly to Atlanta together – to apologize to Avon but also to have a good time and get to know each other better. He doesn’t have to spell it out, the fucker; Joan knows exactly what he means, but is disinclined to play the fuckee. So now she goes to Jim Hobart, the head of McCann, who cannot be said to be sympathetic and whose most memorable line, in the context of McCann’s clout, is that the New York Times would print Mein Kampf on its front page if McCann ordered it – an interesting figure of speech not only because of what it says about McCann (Hitler Lite!) but because of what it says about the venerable newspaper of record (“comme ils sont putains”). Jim makes it clear that Joan’s accounts are too small for him to care about; that if she expects to succeed at McCann, she had better learn to play ball; and that he’d be happy to be rid of her, and her half a million dollar contract, on a fifty-cent a dollar buyout. However repugnant, it’s deal she will have to take, although there’s a part of her that would like to fight it out in a court of law, perhaps with a class action lawsuit. The diaspora of Sterling Cooper personnel is at hand. Goodbye, Joan. Goodbye, Shirley, the second African-American secretary to be employed at Sterling Cooper, who is taking a job in insurance and thanks Roger for being... Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
<<< To laugh properly you must sound slightly surprised. So that’s what this child works on tonight as she practices laughing, trying to sound natural. -- from "Childhood" by Amy Gerstler in the Spring 2015 issue of DMQ Review skillfully edited by Sally Ashton >>> For more -- including work by Betsy Johnson-Miller, Brian Clements, David Lehman, and others, click here. Continue reading
Posted May 9, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
Because all's well that ends well. And also because causality is underrated.
Jim just loves to garden, yes he does. He likes nothing better than to put on his little overalls and his straw hat. He says, "Let's go get those tools, Jim." But then doubt begins to set in. He says, "What is a garden, anyway?" And thoughts about a "modernistic" garden begin to trouble him, eat away at his resolve. He stands in the driveway a long time. "Horticulture is a groping in the dark into the obscure and unfamiliar, kneeling before a disinterested secret, slapping it, punching it like a Chinese puzzle, birdbrained, babbling gibberish, dig and destroy, pull out and apply salt, hoe and spray, before it spreads, burn roots, where not desired, with gloved hands, poisonous, the self-sacrifice of it, the self-love, into the interior, thunderclap, excruciating, through the nose, the earsplitting necrology of it, the withering, shriveling, the handy hose holder and Persian insect powder and smut fungi, the enemies of the iris, wireworms are worse than their parents, there is no way out, flowers as big as heads, pock-marked, disfigured, blinking insolently at me, the me who so loves to garden because it prevents the heaving of the ground and the untimely death of porch furniture, and dark, murky days in a large city and the dream home under a permanent storm is also a factor to keep in mind." "The Definition of Gardening" from Shroud of the Gnome by James Tate (Ecco / HarperCollins,1997) -- sdh Continue reading
Posted May 9, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
The singer is Ruth Etting, the piano player is Harold Arlen, the year is 1933. Sing Hallelujah, c'mon get happy, Continue reading
Posted May 6, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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Heartfelt happy birthday wishes to Willie Mays born today, on May 6, 1931, echoing the birthday of Sigmund Schlomo Freud on May 6, 1856. The fact that the father of psychoanalysis and the Giants' great center-fielder shared a birthday (1) would have been deemed inevitable to a student of their natal charts who was also a watcher of the skies. (2) begs the question. (3) dares one to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion (4) proves that the best and most natural of center-fielders was playing unconscious in a sense Freud may be said to have uncovered in his studies of geniuses who had been naughty boys, like Goethe (5) reminds me of the little-known fact that Mays argued against the view that Freud's thought resembled the Russian Revolution inasmuch as it is said to have betrayed itself from the start, in Freud's case with the concept of the Oedipus complex. (6) leaves even the most ardent advocates of the children of Taurus convinced that the two had nothing in common but their greatness, but Isn't that enough? -- DL Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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This week we welcome Marc Smith as our guest author. Marc is the creator and founder of the International Poetry Slam movement. As stated in the PBS television series, The United States of Poetry, a “strand of new poetry began at Chicago’s Green Mill Tavern in 1986 when Marc Smith found a home for the Poetry Slam.” Since then, performance poetry has spread throughout the world, exported to over 500 cities large and small. Chalking up more than 2,500 engagements in nightclubs, concert halls, libraries, universities -- and on top of the occasional hot dog stand -- Marc continues to entertain and inspire audiences as diverse and eager as any to be found in the realm of fine arts. He has performed at the Kennedy Center, the Smithsonian Institute, Galway’s Cruit Festival, Denmark’s Roskilde Festival, Ausburg’s ABC Brecht Festival, and the Queensland Poetry Fest in Australia. He has hosted over 1000 standing room only shows at the Green Mill’s original slam and has been featured on CNN, 60 Minutes, and National Public Radio. He narrated the Sourcebooks releases Spoken Word Revolution and Spoken Word Revolution Redux . Marc’s volume of poetry Crowdpleaser (Collage Press) and his CDs It’s About Time, Quarters in the Juke Box, and Love & Politics are available through his website www.slampapi.com. For further information and a list of Marc’s appearances and events, please view Marc’s website at www.slampapi.com. Welcome, Marc. -- sdh Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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Today's comic is inspired by Chapter 2013 in David Lehman's The State of the Art, which features Shelley's poem, "The Dreariest Journey. " David points out that the poem "is a remarkable statement even for a century whose novelists subjected the institution of marriage to unprecedented scorn." NA Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2015 at The Best American Poetry