I'd Like To Give A Shout-Out To Paul Muldoon For Making Me Want To Read New Yorker Poems!

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Or publishing readable poems in the new yorker. or something. i'll leave it up to experts whether the stuff he is putting in the mag is world class or whatever, but it's certainly more entertaining as far as i'm concerned. when alice quinn was the editor i mostly just played my favorite game of Tally The Water Imagery. (i think i hit 50 references to water in some form in one issue's poems once.) this one caught my eye recently. and it NEVER would have graced the pages of the magazine prior to muldoon. tell me what you think of it:

Poem by the Bridge at Ten-shin
by Frederick Seidel October 20, 2008

This jungle poem is going to be my last.

This space walk is.

Racing in a cab through springtime Central Park,

I kept my nose outside the window like a dog.

The stars above my bed at night are vast.

I think it is uncool to call young women Ms.

My darling is a platform I see stars from in the dark,

And all the dogs begin to bark.

My grunting gun brings down her charging warthog,

And she is frying on white water, clinging to a log,

And all the foam and fevers shiver.

And drink has made chopped liver of my liver!

Between my legs it’s Baudelaire.

He wrote about her Central Park of hair.

I look for the minuterie as if I were in France,

In darkness, in the downstairs entrance, looking for the light.

I’m on a timer that will give me time

To see the way and up the stairs before the lights go out.

The so delicious Busby Berkeley dancers dance

A movie musical extravaganza on the staircase with me every night.

Such fun! We dance. We climb. We slip in slime.

We’re squirting squeezes like a wedge of lime!

It’s like a shout.

It’s what minuterie is all about.

Just getting to the landing through the dark

That has been interrupted for a minute is a lark.

And she’s so happy. It is grand!

I put my mobile in her ampersand.

The fireworks are a fleeting puff of sadness.

The flowers when they reach the stars are tears.

I don’t remember poems I write.

I turn around and they are gone.

I do remember poor King Richard Nixon’s madness.

Pierre Leval, we loved those years!

We knocked back shots of single malt all night.

Beer chasers gave dos caballeros double vision, second sight—

Twin putti pissing out the hotel window on the Scottish dawn.

A crocodile has fallen for a fawn.

I live flap copy for a children’s book.

He wants to lick. He wants to look.

A tiny goldfinch is his Cupid.

Love of cuntry makes men stupid.

It makes men miss Saddam Hussein!

Democracy in Baghdad makes men think

Monstrosity was not so bad.

I followed Gandhi barefoot to

Remind me there is something else till it began to rain.

The hurricane undressing of democracy in Baghdad starts to sink

The shrunken page size of the New York Times, and yet we had

A newspaper that mattered once, and that is sad,

But that was when it mattered. Do

I matter? That is true.

I don’t matter but I do. I lust for fame,

And after never finding it I never was the same.

I roared into the heavens and I soared,

And landed where I started on a flexing diving board.

I knew a beauty named Dawn Green.

I used to wake at the crack of Dawn.

I wish I were about to land on Plymouth Rock,

And had a chance to do it all again but do it right.

It was green dawn in pre-America. I mean

Great scented forests all along the shore, which now are gone.

I’ve had advantages in life and I pronounce Iraq “Irrock.”

The right schools taught me how to tock.

I’m tocking Turkey to the Kurds but with no end in sight.

These peace tocks are my last. Goodbye, Iran. Iran, good night.

They burned the undergrowth so they could see the game they hunt.

That made the forest a cathedral clear as crystal like a cunt.

Their arrows entered red meat in the glory

Streaming down from the clerestory.

Carine Rueff, I was obsessed—I was possessed! I liked your name.

I liked the fact Marie Christine Carine Rue F was Jewish.

It emphasized your elegance in Paris and in Florence.

You were so blond in Rue de l’Université!

The dazzling daughter of de Gaulle’s adviser Jacques Rueff was game

For anything. I’m lolling here in Mayfair under bluish

Clouds above a bench in Mount Street Gardens, thinking torrents.

Purdey used to make a gun for shooting elephants.

One cannot be the way one was back then today.

It went away.

I go from Claridge’s to Brands Hatch racing circuit and come back

To Claridge’s, and out and eat and drink and bed, and fade to black.

The elephants were old enough to die but were aghast.

The stars above this jungle poem are vast.

To Ninety-second Street and Broadway I have come.

Outside the windows is New York.

I came here from St. Louis in a covered wagon overland

Behind the matchless prancing pair of Eliot and Ezra Pound.

And countless moist oases took me in along the way, and some

I still remember when I lift my knife and fork.

The Earth keeps turning, night and day, spit-roasting all the tanned

Tired icebergs and the polar bears, which makes white almost contraband.

The biosphere on a rotisserie emits a certain sound

That tells the stars that Earth was moaning pleasure while it drowned.

The amorous white icebergs flash their brown teeth, hissing.

They’re watching old porn videos of melting icebergs pissing.

The icebergs still in panty hose are lesbians and kissing.

The rotting ocean swallows the bombed airliner that’s missing.

scott seward, Sunday, 2 November 2008 23:16 (fifteen years ago) link

Put them all together, they spell 'M-O-T-H-E-R', a name that means the world toooooooo me.


Truly, it is a difficult task to write that many short, novel, jam-packed lines of poetry. For the duration of reading that poem, it is quite entertaining. At the end, three seconds after reading the final line, you are left with a flaccid beanbag from which all the beans have leaked.

Aimless, Monday, 3 November 2008 04:57 (fifteen years ago) link

i read that poem and enjoyed it also scott! how long has paul muldoon been the editor?

t_g, Thursday, 6 November 2008 12:53 (fifteen years ago) link

um, since last year i think? yeah, 2007.

scott seward, Thursday, 6 November 2008 19:38 (fifteen years ago) link

three weeks pass...

I don't read any of the poetry in the New Yorker, a deeply ingrained habit based on its being so terribly dull for so awfully long. Nice to think they've got someone new at the desk, and yeah, that poem would NEVER have run under Alice Quinn (editor since the late 80s). It's great is what it is. Not sure that it adds up to any more than the sum of its parts (and probably a good deal less), but the parts are so damn wonderful that I don't care. Love how it's not just slyly funny, but aggressively jokey, and how it honors traditional poetic virtues while seeming to mock them. I'll pay a bit more attention from here on out.

contenderizer, Monday, 1 December 2008 23:25 (fifteen years ago) link


I matter? That is true.

I don’t matter but I do."

Beth Parker, Monday, 8 December 2008 16:44 (fifteen years ago) link

I agree -- I think he has really improved the quality of NYorker poetry.

And I'm a fan of Frederick Seidel in general, too. Scary dude on paper.


Eazy, Wednesday, 10 December 2008 21:33 (fifteen years ago) link

three weeks pass...

The unofficial New Yorker Poem blog:

D.S. Loney seems to know who the poets are, which can be helpful. This week he does Liz Waldner's poem

donald nitchie, Tuesday, 6 January 2009 14:24 (fifteen years ago) link

i REALLY liked the Waldner poem a lot. was gonna post it here and forgot. thanks, donald!

A Sensible Life
by Liz Waldner January 5, 2009

In the beginning

there was a meanness and it spread.

Perhaps I absorbed it, so that whatever I saw

was filtered through the meanness.

I don’t mean “stingy,” stinginess,

as do British novelists, by the way.

Although a lacking generosity—

the ability to will that there be

someone Other than Oneself was certainly

a kind of cause.

In the beginning, then,

it was willed that I not be.

This shamed me, however good

an act I learned to put on.

And now it is fifty years later.

I have a profound interest in freedom, I notice,

and an urgent sense of little time.

Little time. Near Little Gidding.

I ween ken reckon have on

the British women novelists I have loved.

I have to mean their novels, of course.

“Queen of the Tambourine.” “The Vacillations of Poppy Carew.”

“Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit.”

Behold, how the outcast makes good.

“Time” is a word. “Love” is a word.

Between them are words and between them

an entrance. I pray to be

entranced, starting right now again I do.

I am old enough to understand

being willing

to go on is a great gift.

scott seward, Tuesday, 6 January 2009 14:42 (fifteen years ago) link

one month passes...

HA! this one definitely caught my eye:

Alien vs. Predator
by Michael Robbins January 12, 2009

Praise this world, Rilke says, the jerk.

We’d stay up all night. Every angel’s

berserk. Hell, if you slit monkeys

for a living, you’d pray to me, too.

I’m not so forgiving. I’m rubber, you’re glue.

That elk is such a dick. He’s a space tree

making a ski and a little foam chiropractor.

I set the controls, I pioneer

the seeding of the ionosphere.

I translate the Bible into velociraptor.

In front of Best Buy, the Tibetans are released,

but where’s the whale on stilts that we were promised?

I fight the comets, lick the moon,

pave its lonely streets.

The sandhill cranes make brains look easy.

I go by many names: Buju Banton,

Camel Light, the New York Times.

Point being, rickshaws in Scranton.

I have few legs. I sleep on meat.

I’d eat your bra—point being—in a heartbeat.

scott seward, Thursday, 19 February 2009 02:01 (fifteen years ago) link

Mine too Scott!

First poem ever to reference Buju Banton?

adverse possession more like perverse obsession (Hurting 2), Thursday, 19 February 2009 20:36 (fifteen years ago) link

doesn't really matter because i am a snob who is getting a graduate degree in poetry and poetics, but all of the poems praised here are pretty standard, formally. using devices that Dean Young (and way before him, John Ashbery) sort of mastered long ago.

that said, i also am the editor of a poetry journal, and imagine reading 100 poems a week that are trying to do what these are doing....but not as well. it sort of diminishes what i think of the good stuff (and admittedly, that first one has some fucking great lines).

the table is the table, Monday, 23 February 2009 18:52 (fifteen years ago) link

i'm no expert, but wouldn't 99.9% of all poets writing today be using devices that were mastered long ago?

what i like about some of these poems showing up in the new yorker since muldoon took over is that they are fun to read! and before he took over the poems in the new yorker were hardly ever fun to read. AND, they were hardly ever great poems either. i'll take a good fun poem anyday over a tedious poem that technically might be considered good by other poets or professors.

and it's not like i'm just looking for pop culture hilarity in every poem i read. maybe just something a little unexpected and some fancy footwork language-wise. some playfulness, you know?

scott seward, Monday, 23 February 2009 19:16 (fifteen years ago) link

'm no expert, but wouldn't 99.9% of all poets writing today be using devices that were mastered long ago?


that alien v. predator joint is more adept & enjoyable than Ashbery at his best insofar as it's not blowing kisses to the academy in every phrase

J0hn D., Monday, 23 February 2009 19:36 (fifteen years ago) link

I enjoyed both those poems, but I know what table means: the prevailing poetic aesthetic—Ashbery, Young, and I guess Seidel—can be maddening. To put it in a nutshell, it is: change the poem's subject every line. Nothing wrong with that, but it can get boring, resulting, in many cases, in just a flashy performance, or poetic wallpaper. That's the best poem I've read of Seidel's; many of his others seem like lists of non sequitors. These two seem like exceptions in the prevailing style, and good examples, in that they both seem to follow some thread throughout, however tenous or wacky, while not getting bogged down in explanation, narrative, or argument. And, if you find them fun to read, and actually finish them, then they succeed.

I really like

I fight the comets, lick the moon,
pave its lonely streets

...like someone made Ashbery's poems into a Saturday morning cartoon show

donald nitchie, Tuesday, 24 February 2009 03:46 (fifteen years ago) link

ha, i wondered if this was revived for 'alien vs predator' (which is now in the top 20 google results for that phrase, incidentally —)

five more by robbins here: http://www.lapetitezine.org/Michael.Robbins.htm

dunno if the formatting will hold, here:

Either Time

Made like a moving picture

not about things but with—bonny a machinist as pleases.

I mean I have real hair to transfer

I have moths to gale. Say it, us

look that tiny, tinsel-mote October

revolutions, belly-belly barometric span.

Sure, sad stories I love to leave where they lie.

For who can sing so softly heroes from their stupid tombs?

Didn’t I know all this in the version where your negotiations of

it is simply astounding to see an animal dead on a highway

were nonnegotiable? No one if you lift the rain

from the bucket & fling it back into the sky says

hey it’s raining again

for Anna Clark

thomp, Tuesday, 24 February 2009 17:17 (fifteen years ago) link

okay nm just click through: that isn't actually meant to read "it's raining again for anna clark"

thomp, Tuesday, 24 February 2009 17:18 (fifteen years ago) link

imagine reading 100 poems a week that are trying to do what these are doing....but not as well. it sort of diminishes what i think of the good stuff (and admittedly, that first one has some fucking great lines).

What is that syndrome? It's why I don't like to show in group shows. The crap pulls everything down. Maybe it's that the viewer hardens his/her heart, doesn't trust the better work not to be stealthily rotten at the core. It's like—you can't get all sentimental when you have to euthanize a sick animal. Look, this one's not limping and puking yet, but probably will be soon. Give him the shot.

Beth Parker, Tuesday, 24 February 2009 17:39 (fifteen years ago) link

ok I'm a confirmed Robbins fan now:

[Things I may no longer bring on airplanes:]

Things I may no longer bring on airplanes:
1. Box cutters
2. Airplanes

This spleen & idyll is legally a star.

Let us stockpile rupturewort & eryngo
in the unlikely event of water landing.

All that is sullied melts into flesh.
Hebrew, the original HTML.
How will I open my box on the airplane??

I saw a bat another bat
& two batlike swifts
that might’ve been bats.

I mean that literally.

I mean “literally”

donald nitchie, Tuesday, 24 February 2009 17:57 (fifteen years ago) link

(xpost—I'm just having a conversation with myself here, but given the context, that's okay, right?)
Like in "Hud" when the rancher has to kill all his seemingly healthy cattle and bury them in a big pit because a couple of them tested positive for Foot and Mouth disease.

Beth Parker, Tuesday, 24 February 2009 17:59 (fifteen years ago) link

Only in the poetry world, it's the infected who are in the minority. The good poems are like the one live guy in the heap of moldering bodies at the massacre site. Like live Kate Winslet floating amid the frozen corpses at the end of Titanic.

Beth Parker, Tuesday, 24 February 2009 18:01 (fifteen years ago) link

Oop, I meant to say the UNinfected are in the minority.

Beth Parker, Tuesday, 24 February 2009 18:02 (fifteen years ago) link

Like One Good Apple, spoiled by The Whole Bunch.

Beth Parker, Tuesday, 24 February 2009 18:03 (fifteen years ago) link

i'm no expert, but wouldn't 99.9% of all poets writing today be using devices that were mastered long ago?

truthbomb BULLSHIT

that alien v. predator joint is more adept & enjoyable than Ashbery at his best insofar as it's not blowing kisses to the academy in every phrase

Thanks for your hyperbolic populism, Mr. Darnielle, but I'll take my Ivory Tower poets-just-talking-to-poets over some fucking bullshit Ashbery ripoff any day. Paul Muldoon is a twat (I've had dinner with him) and a horrifically unoriginal poet and thinker.

That, and Scott: check out Laura Mullen, Shanxing Wang, K. Silem Mohammed, bpNichol, Jill Magi, Esther Lee, etc etc etc. Perhaps a better term than "formal devices" is "pushing formal boundaries" in terms of language-- sure, the language devices have been mastered, but the way in which those devices WORK language is constantly being tinkered with and innovated in ways the New Yorker, nor Mr. Muldoon, will ever acknowledge.

the table is the table, Tuesday, 24 February 2009 19:02 (fifteen years ago) link

i also haven't gotten any sleep, sorry about the bile in that post. not meant in a mean-spirited way towards anyone. i just get frustrated with the idea that a) all poetry should be FUN FUN FUN to read, and b) that somehow the academy is always wrong and always suspect.

the table is the table, Tuesday, 24 February 2009 19:05 (fifteen years ago) link

(also, given all that, i do prefer 'alien vs. predator' or daniil kharms translations to mothersucking Billy Collins any day).

the table is the table, Tuesday, 24 February 2009 19:07 (fifteen years ago) link

yeah I was gonna call out the Ashbery challops when I first saw them but then I forgot to. glad they annoyed you too, table.

and I'm not really sure what is meant by the implication that poetry as an art form was "mastered" long ago... maybe if you were writing poems for robots, you could, like, figure out the most efficient metaphor in any given situation; but it's pretty ridiculous to think that the way people respond to poetry always has been and always will be exactly the same. reminds me of Borges writing about how literature will never be exhausted because words are constantly shifting their meanings, and the cultural context around them is changing, so every single book is infinite.

if you like it then you shoulda put a donk on it (bernard snowy), Wednesday, 25 February 2009 12:28 (fifteen years ago) link

okay, so let's move beyond my rather simpleton tastes in poetry (and i do agree that not all poetry needs to be FUN FUN FUN - art should always be lots of things and whatever it wants to be and i am all for the experimental/difficult/etc in every field) and let's just talk about this again for a moment: NONE of the poems on this thread would have appeared in the new yorker before muldoon took over as editor. and as the new yorker is one of the most widely read weekly magazines in the states, what does this mean for poets or poetry? is it a good thing? i don't read a lot of poetry (i have my faves, but most of them are old and moldy). i hardly EVER found poems to enjoy in the new yorker pre-muldoon. and i read them too. NOW, i find stuff to enjoy in every issue. am i wrong? maybe i need to read more ashbery and i will see how derivative and second-rate all this new stuff is.

(okay, since i wrote that last sentence i read some ashbery online and i like what i read though the poems i read are way longer and rambling then anything on this thread, but i can see what you mean as far as the style goes. daffy duck in hollywood and all that. i like the one about popeye and the sea hag hanging out in the country together. still reads more like someone using pop for pop art though. which sounds really silly. um, but what i mean is that older generation's use of pop as a distancing technique/commentary device. you know: LOOK AT WHAT YOUR MICKY MOUSE HAS DONE TO US! kinda thing. this works for me fine coming from bow wow wow and the subhumans (u.k.) for some reason. (and i always got a kick out of that kind of tijuana x-rated funnies anarchy of something like jay cantor's krazy kat or pop art's appropriation of pop and old bill elder mickey mouse insanity - in fact, as far as all this goes, bill elder is kind of the beginning and the end of satirical cartoon skewering and use of pop as commentary/opinion and nobody ever did it more effectively since. but people my age or younger have no distance from pop. its in our heads and we bleed it and its just as real and tangible as our eyeballs which is why i dig new poets/poems that have no use for us-vs-them or outsider looking in pogo-centrism cuz any poet working today with half a brain knows that the enemy is us/him/her and they should just revel in that until everything burns to the ground.)

scott seward, Wednesday, 25 February 2009 14:59 (fifteen years ago) link

William Logan's written several essays critical of Ashbery's method of accruing funny, absurd lines around which "meaning" sometims coheres; but he's so much fun to read that I can stomach his mannerisms. And "The Wrong Kind of Insurance" is one of my favorite poems.

The Screaming Lobster of Challops (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 25 February 2009 15:03 (fifteen years ago) link

scott I really like ashbery *and* the poems you've been posting on this thread! don't make me choose!

I kinda skimmed over table's posts before so I didn't notice the part about paul muldoon being an unoriginal twat. can't get behind that; I don't really know anything about the dude, but based on this thread alone he seems alright to me.

I mean basically I agree with what was said upthread about "the prevailing poetic aesthetic", that a lot of this stuff, at least on the surface, bears a stronger resemblance to ashbery than to most poets writing before him. but it also bears a strong resemblance to, like, tons of poetry that's been written in the last 40-50 years. scott I think you're right about ideas of "pop" changing very rapidly over the past couple of generations.

IN CONCLUSION: I think everyone should read as much poetry as they can! much love y'all!

if you like it then you shoulda put a donk on it (bernard snowy), Wednesday, 25 February 2009 16:04 (fifteen years ago) link

Yeah, what I was thinking too.
I just wrote this while you were writing that: I don't like Billy Collins when he's mothersucking but I do like him when he's good. Can't we all just get along?

Beth Parker, Wednesday, 25 February 2009 16:10 (fifteen years ago) link

Paul Muldoon is a twat (I've had dinner with him) and a horrifically unoriginal poet and thinker.

i dont want to get into it w/ table about another older white male nyer writer but i hate sweeping dismissals confined to pithy asides like this since they give nothing to the conversation. i like muldoon, a lot; leaving aside the question of originality, i find his poems funny & fascinating and constructed w/ care and intelligence. i dont know that i read enough poetry or know enough about it weigh in on the 'originality' of his poems (nor, frankly, is that something i really care about deeply, coming from table or darnielle or whoever, just to lay my own biases on the table). i do know a little bit about thinking, since i do it a lot, and it does a disservice to muldoon, and other thinkers, to describe his thought as 'horrifically unoriginal.'

and since u bring it up--ive met muldoon on a couple different occasions and hes always been very kind and funny. im not sure what the circumstances of the dinner u were having with him were but it seems totally opposite from what i know about him

max, Wednesday, 25 February 2009 16:21 (fifteen years ago) link

Okay, yes, let a thousand flowers bloom. I am often seen as being a curmudgeonly old fuck when i comes to my tastes, so whatever, I begrudge no one their likes or dislikes.

However, there is nothing challenging, nothing funny to me about Paul Muldoon. His line is unoriginal (that is, he does nothing to push the line or make it actually work in a way that it hasn't before), his tone is pretty consistently that of a smart-ass Irish schoolboy, and he presents himself with such pomposity that I just can't figure out what you're talking about, Max.

In terms of unoriginality of thinking: take 5 poems from 'Horse Latitudes.' Now take 5 poems from 'Quoof.' Shuffle them. Ask someone to read them and put them back into a proper order according to book. It cannot be done-- most of the man's poems are so similar that such a task is impossible. Perhaps this is my anti-JCO and anti-Updike, anti-prolific side coming in, but I prefer it when an artist (of any sort) takes time and care and actually evolves from one work to another, in more ways than simply 'getting older,' etc.

Additionally, his book, "The End of the Poem," is so startlingly white and male in its scope that it would make the most hardened 'anti-multiculturalist' open the eyes in surprise a bit.

the table is the table, Wednesday, 25 February 2009 16:47 (fifteen years ago) link

but people my age or younger have no distance from pop. its in our heads and we bleed it and its just as real and tangible as our eyeballs which is why i dig new poets/poems that have no use for us-vs-them or outsider looking in pogo-centrism cuz any poet working today with half a brain knows that the enemy is us/him/her and they should just revel in that until everything burns to the ground

i'm 24, and would prefer not to be characterized in such a way. i do know the enemy is us/him/her, but it is also THEM THEM THEM because who made us enemies in the first place?

the table is the table, Wednesday, 25 February 2009 16:51 (fifteen years ago) link

But lots of poets wrote too much: Hardy and Stevens to name two. The sheer volume of their work may smother the quality of their great poems, but I don't mind opening my collected Stevens and discovering an agreeable minor variation on a major poem.

The Screaming Lobster of Challops (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 25 February 2009 16:53 (fifteen years ago) link

finally, i would like to challenge J0hn D. : try to see if you can make any money without playing to and at 'the academy' that you so deride. You can't, because most of your audience is made up of college kids and their young, hip professors. So really, take your derision elsewhere. It is unbecoming to a man whose songs I love.

the table is the table, Wednesday, 25 February 2009 16:54 (fifteen years ago) link

The difference, Alfred, is that both Hardy and Stevens (as well as Ashbery, etc) EVOLVED in their thinking/writing over time. Late Stevens and middle Stevens and early Stevens are like entirely different people. Same with Ashbery.

the table is the table, Wednesday, 25 February 2009 16:56 (fifteen years ago) link

(My knowledge of Hardy is, unofrtunately, not where it could be. I'm more of a GM Hopkins man myself).

the table is the table, Wednesday, 25 February 2009 16:57 (fifteen years ago) link

"Evolution" may be the hallmark of a great poet instead of a minor one. If you find no formal pleasures in Muldoon, then I won't convince you, but I'm perfectly happy with characterizing him as a minor poet whose work I enjoy occassionally.

The Screaming Lobster of Challops (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 25 February 2009 16:58 (fifteen years ago) link

What do you make of someone like Frost? His stuff in A Boy's Will was stiffer formally than the relaxed cadences of later books, but his vision was honed fairly early: no real "evolution."

The Screaming Lobster of Challops (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 25 February 2009 16:59 (fifteen years ago) link

but I prefer it when an artist (of any sort) takes time and care and actually evolves from one work to another, in more ways than simply 'getting older,' etc.

i agree! this is really interesting to me, but you gotta admit--different artists evolve in different ways, and some evolve more than others, in deeper better ways. . . right?

Mr. Que, Wednesday, 25 February 2009 16:59 (fifteen years ago) link

i have a bunch to say abt ur post table but just wanted to point out that in the 15 essays of 'the end of the poem,' 6 are devoted to woman authors which is hardly 'startling' and even less so when you consider that the essay about ted hughes is more about marianne moore than it is about hughes--as for its 'whiteness' all i can do is shrug my shoulders and say 1) muldoon is, and always has been, working explicitly and specifically in an irish (and to some extent irish-american) tradition, itself within a larger anglo tradition (12 of the 15 essays are about american, irish or english poets), and it seems weird to demand that he apply his critical faculties outside that tradition and 2) do we really want an aging white boomer poet writing about, um, yusef komunyakaa, or whoever?

max, Wednesday, 25 February 2009 17:01 (fifteen years ago) link

I was going to say! I haven't read said essay collection, but I'm so bored of dismissing artists because they fail to meet our standards of curiosity and inclusivity.

The Screaming Lobster of Challops (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 25 February 2009 17:04 (fifteen years ago) link

Of course, of course-- I mean, I can't read Ashbery any longer, because IMO he pretty much became a more sentimental version of his ever-evolving self after the tour-de-force that is Flow Chart. But yes, this is true for all artists.

Also, I AM glad that people are reading poetry at all. It is quite heartening.

I just hope that an interest doesn't just stop at 'Alien-v-Predator' material, that stuff that is perhaps more 'serious' and more 'difficult' also gets a read. For example, at the AWP conference in Chicago, I had a guy come up to me and talk to me about Ashbery for a while. Then, he picked up Myung-Mi Kim's DURA, which has been reprinted by my friend's press. He flipped through for a while, then said, "I never get this sort of stuff," smirked at me, then walked away. I was sort of like, "Uh, what?"

the table is the table, Wednesday, 25 February 2009 17:05 (fifteen years ago) link

fine, here's what it comes down to: Muldoon's Irish tradition is staid and boring, and does not need him.

the table is the table, Wednesday, 25 February 2009 17:06 (fifteen years ago) link

(or HAS BECOME staid and boring, is perhaps what i meant)

the table is the table, Wednesday, 25 February 2009 17:09 (fifteen years ago) link

In some ways, I think that my aversion to Muldoon and others like him simply comes down to the fact that, despite his work in placing newer and younger poets in the New Yorker, he continues to place the vast amount of amazing poetry created here and elsewhere into the ghetto of poetry, focusing solely on those whose work has been discussed and analyzed quite comprehensively already. Playing palsy-walsy with Bishop and Tsvetayeva is all well and good, but so many great poets are ignored, and this truly bothers me. Don't get me wrong-- I like Emily Dickinson and Elizabeth Bishop as much as the next poet. In fact, I am a huge fan of Dickinson AND Bishop, but dealing with them again and again appears lazy and unwilling to explore new grounds that have been forged in the past 40 years.

the table is the table, Wednesday, 25 February 2009 17:29 (fifteen years ago) link

"Appears" is the important word. I'm always ready to read something new on Bishop, as long as it's not Adam Kirsch writing.

The Screaming Lobster of Challops (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 25 February 2009 17:34 (fifteen years ago) link

or Adam Gopnik ugggggggh that guy

Mr. Que, Wednesday, 25 February 2009 17:36 (fifteen years ago) link

two months pass...

Delphiniums in a Window Box

by Dean Young May 18, 2009

Every sunrise, even strangers’ eyes.

Not necessarily swans, even crows,

even the evening fusillade of bats.

That place where the creek goes underground,

how many weeks before I see you again?

Stacks of books, every page, characters’

rages and poets’ strange contraptions

of syntax and song, every song

even when there isn’t one.

Every thistle, splinter, butterfly

over the drainage ditches. Every stray.

Did you see the meteor shower?

Did it feel like something swallowed?

Every question, conversation

even with almost nothing, cricket, cloud,

because of you I’m talking to crickets, clouds,

confiding in a cat. Everyone says,

Come to your senses, and I do, of you.

Every touch electric, every taste you,

every smell, even burning sugar, every

cry and laugh. Toothpicked samples

at the farmers’ market, every melon,

plum, I come undone, undone.

Beth Parker, Friday, 15 May 2009 14:14 (fifteen years ago) link

Agree with Edward, he's seriously hit-or-miss, and at worst it tends to read as a pile-up of dotty lines. Even at his best, he's almost always centerless--when he works for me tends to be when he sets up separate clouds of meaning and lets them collide into one another. But after a while you do get tired of sifting through, waiting for something larger to emerge from all the play. (He maps pretty exactly to free jazz for me, now that I think of it.)

Speaking of dotty lines, thanks for the Chelsey Minnis mention, aero--liking her a lot.

bentelec, Monday, 12 September 2011 16:20 (twelve years ago) link

four months pass...

this is coming out this year. i will be buying. poetry event of the season. or maybe its already out. i'll check amazon...


scott seward, Wednesday, 18 January 2012 02:53 (twelve years ago) link

Let us know if the words "pred ship" appear in this collection.

Aimless, Wednesday, 18 January 2012 03:46 (twelve years ago) link

Leonard Cohen in this week's ish.

do you not like slouching? (Eazy), Wednesday, 18 January 2012 06:03 (twelve years ago) link

you mean this guy?


Aimless, Wednesday, 18 January 2012 18:44 (twelve years ago) link

scored this off a neighbor across the street for a quarter a couple years ago


the star of many snuff films (Edward III), Wednesday, 18 January 2012 22:25 (twelve years ago) link

four months pass...

michael robbins is the best-selling poet in the country right now.

scott seward, Sunday, 27 May 2012 21:43 (twelve years ago) link


Where are you working right now?

I’m a visiting poet at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, which is where I’m staying and just waiting until I get out of this city.

You don’t like it?

The people are great at the university, my students are great, but Hattiesburg is … it’s just like if you opened a university in a Taco Bell, basically. It’s just the ugliest place I’ve ever seen in my life.

Is it maybe good for the work though?

I spend a lot of time in my apartment, so I suppose it is in that sense. But there’s no bookstore, there’s like one Books-A-Million, whose Bible section is larger than its poetry section, which anyway has, like, books by Bill Bryson in it and stuff. You can quote me on all that if you want to, I don’t care.

You don’t mind?

No, I want to be on record saying that I hate Hattiesburg.

scott seward, Sunday, 27 May 2012 21:47 (twelve years ago) link

Hard cheese, my lad, you're getting paid to write poetry. Now, who's going to make me want to read New Yorker fiction? Surely something good must have been published since those excellent Edward P. Jones and Mary Gaitskill stories I came across in the NY years ago, but everytime I venture back nowadays (meaning really 2011-12, prob '10 too), it's dogshit with fancy sauce (evoking that Sat Night Live sketch, "White People Problems")

dow, Sunday, 27 May 2012 23:58 (twelve years ago) link

see now i liked that paris review interview cuz its not what you expect to hear from a poet in an interview in the paris review!

scott seward, Monday, 28 May 2012 00:20 (twelve years ago) link

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woof, Monday, 28 May 2012 09:02 (twelve years ago) link

Sorry you have decided to not like Hattiesburg, but you are certainly in the minority.perhaps you haven’t really tried. It is actually a very beautiful place with outstanding restaurants, landmarks and neighborhoods full of gorgeous homes. The lakes,trees and flowers are outstanding as are the two university campuses and numerous. Golf courses. Most importantly, it has the nicest people you will find anywhere. You sound very lonely and cynical. Perhaps you should join one of our wonderful churches and find someone who will pray for you. As we say in the south, “BLESS YOUR HEART”!!!!!

woof, Monday, 28 May 2012 09:02 (twelve years ago) link

Enjoyed that interview, had forgotten AvP was out, looking forward to it.

woof, Monday, 28 May 2012 09:03 (twelve years ago) link

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus! He lives wherever hearts are open.

dow, Monday, 28 May 2012 17:10 (twelve years ago) link

he's a good rock critic too, don. dunno if you've seen any of it.


scott seward, Monday, 28 May 2012 17:39 (twelve years ago) link

yeah, good read, no beardmumbling, skimming, cheerleading, or autosnark.

dow, Monday, 28 May 2012 17:51 (twelve years ago) link

Guy sounds unbearable from that Paris Review interview, alas.

Odd Spice (Eazy), Tuesday, 29 May 2012 05:06 (twelve years ago) link

how is the robbins book? nyer poetry has been so nothing lately. there's just one nice word per poem, that's all i can get from them.

blossom smulch (schlump), Tuesday, 29 May 2012 09:26 (twelve years ago) link

and yeah i agree. about the new yorker. don't know what happened. i was really excited by stuff when i started this thread.

scott seward, Tuesday, 29 May 2012 12:19 (twelve years ago) link

i should probably try and read their 'science fiction issue'

that nyt review makes me sad about the standards that lead robbins to be considered remarkable, maybe: "He knows more than you do about Jay-Z and Lil Wayne ... This collection’s final words — “yes yes y’all” — echo Joyce. "

thomp, Tuesday, 29 May 2012 12:22 (twelve years ago) link

The Dark Clicks On

The morning slathers its whatever
across the thing. It puts the fucking
lotion in the basket. Can’t smoke
in the confessional anymore.
If you do, you have to confess it.
So have I heard and do in part believe it.

Old pond, frog jumps in, so what.
Dude speaks Chinese laundry.
My mother like her pussy shave.
Tell her I read in Origen
even Satan might be saved.
Or else it gets the hose again.

Michael J. Fox talks Parkinson’s
with the former Miss Arkansas.
The clouds are there for them
to be sick on. Those European
stairwells with the lights on a timer?
You get halfway up and the dark clicks on.

scott seward, Tuesday, 29 May 2012 12:26 (twelve years ago) link

Appetite for Destruction
—Michael Robbins

You homicidal bitch. I killed the boar
’cause boar’s the game I came here for.
I clear the jungle with the edge of my hand.
I make love to an ATM. I enrich uranium.
Dude, this aggression will not stand.

I want to watch you bleed. My tongue
doesn’t know its right from wrong.
I’m uninsured. I ride the bus,
a loaded gun inside my purse.
My mouth’s a roadside bomb.

The boar’s inside the mosque and then
the RPG has martyred him.
His favorite song was “Crazy Train.”
I pity the Lord, pity the Flash,
I sleep through gynecology class.

They call me Yeti because my carbon footprint
drives the sherpas round the bend
into the village of the whup-ass can.
When I lie on my back in the ashy rain,
pigs drink from my cavernous groin.

scott seward, Tuesday, 29 May 2012 12:32 (twelve years ago) link

i like his poetry crit too:


scott seward, Tuesday, 29 May 2012 12:42 (twelve years ago) link

aw poor J.D. McClatchy!

go down on you in a thyatrr (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 29 May 2012 12:47 (twelve years ago) link

Money Bin

I got a tattoo of God. You can’t see it
but it’s everywhere. If I seem out of it,
do the math. I was put on earth.
And then you were, making up your feet
as you went along. New thinspo clanks the spank
bank. New emoticon makes a Holocene.

If you want to get in shape you have to jog
your memory of Euclid. Jesus built
a ship in a ship shape and said
there’s plenty of loaves in the sea.
Some Idaho you turned out to be.

Some money bin I, a rich duck, swim in!
The coins of you in my feathers like water
off my back. I count each red cent of you.
Now the rain with its funny money din.
The rain beats a tattoo of God any day.

scott seward, Tuesday, 29 May 2012 13:27 (twelve years ago) link

i like the way the words go.

scott seward, Tuesday, 29 May 2012 13:27 (twelve years ago) link

minds are funny things. they dearly love pattern and meaning. they will see them in spite of everything. i liked that poem, too. for a bit. but it means nothing to me or to anyone so far as i can tell.

Aimless, Tuesday, 29 May 2012 15:17 (twelve years ago) link

have you surveyed everyone?

scott seward, Tuesday, 29 May 2012 15:42 (twelve years ago) link

that would take you a while.

scott seward, Tuesday, 29 May 2012 15:42 (twelve years ago) link

O my Luve's like a red, red cent
that's newly in my feathers;
but not the feathers on my back
for there she rolls right off.

Aimless, Tuesday, 29 May 2012 16:27 (twelve years ago) link

yeah he's big on easter eggs for poetry fans. try and catch them all!

scott seward, Tuesday, 29 May 2012 16:45 (twelve years ago) link

I will totes buy that Robbins book as soon as I see it -- shouts-out to ILX for sharing good NYer poems w/ me!

Re: Ashbery: I will totally stan for 'Double Dream' and ESPECIALLY 'As We Know'. Just an incredible, compulsively-readable collection of each-poem-better-than-the-last... one image I can't get out of my head lately (from the conclusion of "Train Rising Out of the Sea"):

Like an island just off the shore, one of many, that no one
Notices, though it has a certain function, though an abstract one
Built to prevent you from being towed to shore.

Despite all my cheek, I am still just a freak on a leash (bernard snowy), Tuesday, 5 June 2012 17:37 (twelve years ago) link

hi bernard snowy, we were wondering where youd been

max, Tuesday, 5 June 2012 17:46 (twelve years ago) link

Livin the monastic life (no computer)

Despite all my cheek, I am still just a freak on a leash (bernard snowy), Tuesday, 5 June 2012 18:10 (twelve years ago) link

i had drinks w/ j0n h3rrman the other week, you came up

max, Tuesday, 5 June 2012 18:17 (twelve years ago) link

Haha, small world... haven't seen that guy in years (he's always telling me to come visit NYC, and i'm always telling him i'm broke) but he's one of the best & funniest ppl I know. Just a few weeks ago, I met a girl using a dance move he invented in high school!

Despite all my cheek, I am still just a freak on a leash (bernard snowy), Tuesday, 5 June 2012 18:40 (twelve years ago) link

I am always amazed and impressed by what a small world Literary Britain seems to be. Like a small private club that is rather oversubscribed.

Aimless, Tuesday, 5 June 2012 18:47 (twelve years ago) link

yeah hes doing big things in the tech journalism world, sorta, also hes hilarious on twitter

max, Tuesday, 5 June 2012 18:54 (twelve years ago) link

It isn't that I think everyone literary knows every one else and lives in the same building. For comparison, the metropolitan area around Portland is roughly 1 million people, but for years I would go to local concerts, political events or eating places and many of the faces I'd see would be familiar, with continuity across a couple of decades.

Birds of a feather and all that.

Aimless, Tuesday, 5 June 2012 19:15 (twelve years ago) link

xpost I like to think i'm pretty funny myself (many of my friends have told me i'm "really good at twitter", whatevertf that means)

When john first started writing for gizmodo & i was jealous of his fancy-schmancy internetphone, I used to joke that his 'job' consisted of sitting around, waiting for his gadgets to buzz and inform him of their impending obsolescence... glad to see I didn't manage to discourage him :)

Despite all my cheek, I am still just a freak on a leash (bernard snowy), Tuesday, 5 June 2012 21:17 (twelve years ago) link

im following you on twitter now

max, Tuesday, 5 June 2012 21:19 (twelve years ago) link

Cool you shoukd

Despite all my cheek, I am still just a freak on a leash (bernard snowy), Tuesday, 5 June 2012 22:35 (twelve years ago) link

^^name of my next volume of poesy

Odd Spice (Eazy), Wednesday, 6 June 2012 05:27 (twelve years ago) link

got the Robbins book a coupla days ago and I'm really enjoying it (though I'm not sure how much of it, if any, will 'stick' with me)

also, in light of the discussion upthread, I quite enjoyed turning the page to find...

Reading Late Ashbery

I feel like a discarded Christmas tree.
Thanks for sharing. I can't hear myself think
about all this racket. As long
as we're discussing "feelings,"
please turn to your information packets.

It took me twelve years just to find this socket,
and if you think I'm throwing in the towel
just because my plugs have too many prongs...
I don't even have a towel. Oh, a towel.
No, I have a couple of those.

Despite all my cheek, I am still just a freak on a leash (bernard snowy), Saturday, 9 June 2012 15:24 (twelve years ago) link

^^ light verse from the edge of the visible spectrum

Aimless, Saturday, 9 June 2012 15:48 (twelve years ago) link


Despite all my cheek, I am still just a freak on a leash (bernard snowy), Saturday, 9 June 2012 16:00 (twelve years ago) link

There once was a rapping tomato,
That's right, a rapping tomato,
And he rapped all day,
From April til May,
and also, guess what? it was me.

thomp, Saturday, 9 June 2012 18:50 (twelve years ago) link

In the 1940s, "tomato" was slang for a woman, while implying a certain luscious juicy quality in said female. Is this the sense in which you are using the word? /dork

Aimless, Saturday, 9 June 2012 20:25 (twelve years ago) link

For me criticism is the test, but right off: "[influence] on [drug]".

alimosina, Saturday, 9 June 2012 21:11 (twelve years ago) link

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