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Tanya Larkin
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Congratulations on making it through...and on your baby! I couldn't agree with you more...experience, experience. TL
He was the funniest man I've ever known and so concerned with being taken seriously, which is maybe why the reaction to Dr. Fun. I remember him talking about just starting out as a teacher and that he was too funny. It got in the way of the teaching...You have done so much, David, in this respect. His poetry is taken pretty seriously.The Pleasures of Poetry! You're Amazing!
I was writing this really serious comparison/contrast between Rilke’s Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge and Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner, which is a very good book, especially the first fourth or so and there are sentences throughout that are stunners ( I was disappointed the narrator didn’t change at all but I think that was a problem of not depicting other characters besides the narrator very roundly or deeply. Oh I really got into it, and I didn’t even say what I just said.) But then I went to band practice and the thought of continuing this essay thing…Ugh. I’d rather talk about music and my night. And so I present what I was listening to on the way home, an album that only ripens, as it’s the perfect critique of hyper-capitalism and love in capitalism and gender stupidity and intelligence and all the music perfectly enacts the lyrics and the lyrics match the music. More Songs About Buildings And Food, folks, by The Talking Heads. Listen to the whole album. All the songs are of a piece. So many strident, dramatic, in medias res first lines: Oh baby you can walk, you can talk just like me…if that’s what you want to do. "Damn that television...what a bad picture!" "Don’t get upset, It’s not a major disaster." When I came home from practice, my roommate had just gotten home too. She had been visiting her family in Townsend and was exhausted from driving back in the rainstorm, which was the true rainstorm to break the heat wave. She had had to pull over in the rainstorm and pee in a cup she was telling Little T and me, Big T. (We’re both Tanyas and thusly distinguished thusly) Isn’t this the kind of detail people put in blogs? Like PR for the world? Anyway, there were rainbows I had missed but they had pictures they assured me. J was exhausted but she had a bunch of love letters boys had written her, well mainly one boy, and an all purpose, meaning without dividers! (sic) notebook from ninth grade. On one page is a poem, on the next notes from science (Importance of Rivers) , the next notes from math (“I never leave a radical on the bottom!”), the next from Spanish (Hispanic Location: Costa Rica..visited during: Spring Vacation…enjoyed: the animals, beautiful water( (la agua fuy muy bonita)), the people)…future plans to see people: next verano), the next from math (**All repeating numbers are rational!), songs lyrics (Hold me/Like the River Jordan), notes from science, you get the idea, then a draft of a long break up letter which might have only served as preparation for a pretty intense breakup (As you will see, J. had some Loves.) I won’t include the letter, but I will a little of everything else. Forget about the Notebooks of Malte, here is the notebook of my roommate, J. But first a love poem: My soul cries every time we depart I leave... Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
Movies that break heat waves: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid..."Well we are involved, Etta..." Continue reading
Posted Jun 22, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
From The Art of the Possible, by Kenneth Koch Continue reading
Posted Jun 21, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
Yesterday I taught The Rite of Spring and Jonah Lehrer’s excellent essay on Stravinsky from his first book Proust Was a Neuroscientist. It’s about how difficult it is for the brain to accept new sounds even when those new sounds are the only sounds that make us feel. Every time I teach it I can’t help thinking of the great poetry that goes neglected by publishers year after year perhaps for the same reason. We are pattern-loving, meaning-making creatures. That stuff makes us happy. Not least because we depend on it for survival. When we can’t recognize a familiar pattern of sounds, our brains and bodies revolt. Our pupils dilate, our blood pressure rises…we freak and we feel, and for the most part, we don’t want to do that. My favorite book of poetry from the last several years isn’t a book. It’s a manuscript—a book length poem called The Palisades by Gillian Kiley, a spacious, dynamic meditation that mines every register of grief, occupying it all with a tremendous wingspan and exploring its terrible incommunicability. In that regard, the poem becomes about the inability to communicate the most private, vulnerable parts of ourselves, especially in this speedy culture that seems intent not to give us the time and space to feel, let alone articulate those strange feelings: People will be afraid to talk to you if you insist on remaining humid and alert to detail. It’s through elliptical, unflinching, and sustained discussion of our inability to convey these deeper hidden feelings that Kiley manages to do so. The boundary between any two sovereign nations is also the point of contact. The poem responds to her father’s death, and part of that response is a mid-life reckoning. The speaker asks how has she been of use? Did a tragic sense of decorum keeping her from loving deep and far enough? I remember feeling so lucky to hear the old stories. To me it seems the speaker goes as far into death with the loved one as it can go and because it is death and things become impersonal in that territory, that speaker feels like all of us. In some zones, the rain that came was an almost unnoticeable quiet, words that never broke on the tongue. I am guessing this book hasn’t been published because it’s a book-length poem and about grief. Grief isn’t cool, and Kiley’s unsentimental treatment of it doesn’t fit neatly into any camp or category of poetry we’ve seen before. Besides, who wants to feel sad? Well, I do. Really and truly. It makes me feel human by making me feel close to other humans. First Kiley and then the rest of you. Throughout the book, there is not only sadness but rage, a rage for separateness and a desperate yearning for distance from the event--the relief of perspective. And then there is all the intelligence that was used to overcome that rage and sadness. To give someone advice is to show a complete lack... Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
Hi Nin--I love your comics. So funny and sad. I don't know if I am your neighbor. I live in Somerville, MA, now--a suburb of New York, four hours north of the city...Thanks for reading my book!
Thanks. A couple years back, an Italian cousin came to visit Boston. At my suggestion she had taken one of the Chinatown buses from NYC (I took a Bolt Bus Monday...there are outlets, which means movies, which meant La Strada on the way down to NYC on Friday.)When I intercepted her at the bottom of the bus steps, she was like, "Squalido!" The Bolt Bus is usually not that squalido. But yes I prefer the Quiet Car on the Acela...Ludlowville sounds nice. I imagine a post office...
Nearly everything reminds me of fracking these days. On the bus home from New York this morning, there was the usual offender, a woman having a long, loud conversation on her cell phone. I put in my ear plugs. Then someone in the back, probably in the bathroom, decided to smoke a cigarette, holding us all hostage to his or her desperate addiction for a couple of hours as the smoke settled into the upholstery and our lungs. I didn’t have nose plugs. Besides, nose plugs wouldn’t have worked for my lungs. Why didn’t I walk the length of the bus and ferret out the smoker and demand him or her to put out his or her cigarette pronto? I don’t know. Everyone was pretending like it wasn’t happening. Soon enough I was calmed by the busload’s indifference, their eerie denial. Rilke was getting interesting again. Do you see where I am going with this? I used to come from the Rust Belt, but now I come from the Frack Belt, fifteen miles east of Youngstown, Ohio, where fracking wastewater pumped back into the ground caused a series of earthquakes this New Year’s Eve. The media tends to characterize the natural gas boom as either environmental disaster or economic panacea—a technology that has arrived just in time to save small farmers from foreclosure and provide jobs for those who have been struggling without them. But the people I know who have sold leases to their land to the energy companies are doing just fine. They are doctors, professionals, small business owners, large business owners. They are not on the brink of disaster. They own McMansions, send their kids to private schools (or don’t… because they don’t really believe in education that much and would rather pocket the money rather than waste it on sensibility or whatnot.) Consider the country club where my parents golf and swim. Does it really need the extra dough from the gas in the bedrock under their land? Of course it does. That way it can pay off its bills without raising members’ dues. My father, a recently retired doctor and Goldwater Republican has a complex relationship to the industry which has swept up his town. In theory he believes in deregulation, in a person’s freedom to determine his or her own entire fate, financial or otherwise, but he also doesn’t want people to die of cancers caused by the chemicals the fracking companies pump into the ground (benzene, toluene, the list goes on…) or the chemicals and metals that fracking draws up (arsenic, uranium, etc.) In the Rabbit room of the country club, a room where men go to smoke cigars and gossip—yes, only men—he has raised concerns about these agents and by-products of the fracking process known to cause cancer. What if they pollute the acquifer as they have been known to do at many sites? What if fracking on the property of a family who has sold the rights to their land pollutes... Continue reading
Posted Jun 18, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
"I don't want to talk about love, I just want to make it." (D'amore non voglio parlare, lo voglio solamente fare.) I hear this Patrizia Cavalli line, made famous in Kenneth Koch's poem "Talking to Patrizia" and think, I don't want to talk about poems, I just want to make them. And yet here I am talking about poems. And I will talk about them endlessly (the way Patrizia wound up talking about love in Koch's poem)...or at least until the end of the week. This reminds me of a Kenneth Koch comic I have up in my bathroom. I'll scan and post The Italian Cabdriver Comics and maybe a few others in the next couple of days. It goes like this: The Italian Cabdriver said Poetry? Poetry in English?...Nay Nay Signore...Poetry, in Italian!...What is your word for nature, for example?..."Nature," I weakly said, knowing I was defeated...Ah hah! driver Luigi Piccione hailing from Paestum, Lacania...But now resident in Rome..."In OUR language...IN OUR LANGUAGE," HE SAID"..."IT IS"...LA NATURA! I've been to Paestum. My sister and I went on a wild boat and bus trek there about 15 years ago. It's home to the enchanting Tomb of the Diver, a fresco of a diver painted on the interior of a tomb. At first people thought it was the tomb of a diver. Then, given the things they found in the grave, a musician. Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
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Jun 14, 2012