The neat house curved like a draining sink

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(poetry diary 39) Posting this in honor of my son’s birth, five years ago today.  I like it because of how much time I spent before my child’s birth wondering what he would be like as a baby, and what he would be like someday as an adult.  As I walked around and he kicked the insides of my super-huge belly I also wondered a lot about reincarnation, and souls, and where his soul might have been (if it was somewhere) before he was conceived, and so on….And when our child was born my husband and I kept wondering, too, what the heck this small creature must have been thinking and feeling within his new world’s strangeness.
All this makes me like this poem’s juxtaposition of adult musings and birth-details.  It’s funny and rather beautiful.
At the Time of My Birth
Oliver De La Paz
I wondered how long I could go on
once the rain had stopped. My nerves
were wedged like wings under a hat.
Corncobs bobbed in boiling water. I kept
a fist in my mouth. I was strident.
The neat house curved like a draining sink.

I want to write about my wattles–oooo

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ODE TO WATTLES

Sharon Olds

 

I want to write about my wattles–oooo, I

lust after it,

I want to hold a mirror under my

chin so I can see the new

events in solid geometry

occuring below my jaw, which was

all bone till now, and now is jam-packed

reticule.  I love to be a little

disgusting, to go as far as I can

into the thrilling unloveliness

of an elderwoman’s aging.

Read rest of poem 

Ms. Olds has sometimes being criticized for being self-involved, for narcissism run amok. I see no logic to this sort of censure, agreeing with Philip Larkin, who said in an interview, “A very crude difference between novels and poetry is that novels are about other people and poetry is about yourself.” Ms. Olds renders the personal universal.

-Dwight Garner, New York Times, September 26, 2016

Sharon Olds, Laureate of Sexuality, Scrutinizes the Body in ‘Odes’

a “Quora” question: if Trump’s campaign was a poem, what poem would it be?

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(poetry diary # …ohihavenoideawhat#itisasijustfinishedwatchingthedebates&iamsleepy)

I liked this Quora column that I found last night on “If Trump’s Campaign Was A Poem What Poem Would It Be.”   I don’t think the equivalent has come up for Clinton’s campaign yet, though I could be wrong….

One suggestion that came up: “The Hollow Men” by T.S. Eliot.  It starts:

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Read rest of poem 

I’d like to post more right now (the dailies, etc) but the day was crazy and I need sleep.  Sweet dreams.

Dailies, 9/25/16: a sunset, a dancing River Girl, & an NBA nominee

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Cool. There’s finally an excerpt up from Jane Mead‘s World of Made and Unmade up on the web, via Poetry Daily. I’ve been looking for one so that I could finish my National Book Award 2016 nominee post, for which I’ve put up excerpts from all of the nominated books in case others want to check them out and make predictions on who they think will make the next cut. The one Mead was nominated for is a book-length poem.

And when there was nothing left
for her to do but die,
I brought my mother home with me.

I put her in the stone cabin
by the vineyard, cabin of her X
and now dead husband, my father,

Read rest of excerpt

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At Verse Daily, Laura McCullough has “Mercy: Rivet Girl Listen To–“

 

Once, it was other music like a train

out of town.  I was that girl. Next door,

it’s aggrotech, dubstep, moombahton, power noise.

Read rest of poem 

 

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Poets.org has “Sunset” by E.E. Cummings: 

Great carnal mountains crouching in the cloud
That marrieth the young earth with a ring,

Read rest of poem 

American Life in Poetry: Column 600

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BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Nick Norwood’s most recent book is Gravel and Hawk, published by Ohio University Press. This poem has sorrow at the top and happiness at the bottom, which means there’s a lot of living in between. It’s from the quarterly journalFive Points. Norwood lives and teaches in Georgia.

Ronnie’s

Dad dead, Mom—back in the bank, tellering—
started dressing in cute skirts and pants suits
she sewed herself from onionskin patterns
and bright-colored knits picked up at Cloth World.
Got her dark brunette hair cut in a shag.
And she and her single girlfriends from work
on a weekday night would leave me to “Love
American Style” or Mary Tyler Moore
and step out to hear the country house band
or now-and-then headliners like Ray Price
and Merle Haggard. Mom’s blue Buick Wildcat
shoulder to shoulder with the other Detroit
behemoths in the dim lot around back.
Wind skittering trash along the street. Bass
notes thumping through the sheet-metal walls
and the full swinging sound suddenly blaring
when a couple came in or out the door.
I know because I’m there, now, in the lot,
crouched behind the fender of a Skylark
or Riviera, in the weird green glow
of the rooftop Ronnie’s sign, not keeping tabs
on Mom, not watching out, just keeping time
with the band and sipping a Slurpee
while she dances through this two-year window
before getting re-hitched, settling back down.
Just twenty-seven, twenty-eight years old,
looking pretty, having the time of her life.


We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher ofPoetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2015 by Nick Norwood, “Ronnie’s (Five Points, Vol. 17, no. 1, 2015). Poem reprinted by permission of Nick Norwood and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2016 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.

“The heart is not so light at first, /But heavy like a bough in spring”

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(poetry diary 37) We went to another small fair yesterday, where there was a good band playing folk music and an older, probably crazy man dancing happily at the side of the stage, which is why I picked this poem for today….I think the giph above illustrates the poem below better than my anecdote does, though.

Song from a Country Fair

When tunes jigged nimbler than the blood
And quick and high the bows would prance
And every fiddle string would burst

 

more on the hatred of poetry

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Although his arguments are hampered by summary judgments and blind spots, Lerner often writes with flair. The avant-garde, he offers, “hates existing poems because they are part of a bankrupt society.” Consequently, an avant-garde poem is “an imaginary bomb with real shrapnel…. a weapon against received ideas of what art is.” Lerner, who considers himself an avant-gardist, stresses that poets aren’t alone in hating poetry. He criticizes journalists who denounce poems for failing “to be universal, to speak both to and for everyone in the manner of Whitman.” This is true, but Lerner has written a Denounciad of his own that allows poets no alternative to anyone’s hatred. His assault on the populist premise that poets should aspire to reach a wide audience is relentless, and he remains hostage to it. It’s as though he’s admonishing a child for believing in the tooth fairy, and with each reprimand the fantasy is revived.

A Poet Undone – John Palattela – The Nation – September 22, 2016