Wednesday, February 04, 2009


It's not typical of me, but I really like this poem at failbetter by Dana Guthrie Martin. In particular I like the last stanza's repetition. It's a great poem, and reading Yusuf Komunyakaa this week I was forgetting there could be great poetry, poetry to care about and invest in. Nothing against YK or whatever, but I dislike the poems in his new book Warhorses (well, "Grenade" is pretty good). Maybe I can be taught to like them. But in this Dana Guthrie Martin poem we are given reflections on death (oh so blah when handled with serious reflection) and aging in a practically cavalier way (and it includes flowers!), but one that adds up and culminates with a lot of care. Care in Heidegger's garden. Ethics are here, and so is the desire to hock a wad of spit out at the last line's "blasted gardenias" and death.

Blake Butler pointed out this Nathan Neely poem at elimae that I like, too. It's a risky proposition, doing poems out of recipes, but Neely pulls it off. I like that the title refers to a "Christmas meeting" as opposed to "party." I read another poem with a recipe form really recently but it wasn't as good. Where did I read it?

Oh, there haven't been a lot of submissions for the guess the number or the poetry contest in which people can win a crap ton of books. First prize for the number guessing contest (including Blake Butler's EVER and Shane and Rupert's PGP books) has been won, but there is still plenty more, including Mary Miller's Big World from Hobart, which will go to the best poem. So get on that peoples.

I just completed a poem about Bas Jan Ader called "Two Poems, Neither About Bas Jan Ader." I'm not sure, people, I'm just not sure. Bas Jan Ader was a conceptual artist who played with gravity a lot and died when he tried to sail across the Atlantic. Here's a sample from the poem:
One day instead of pants she wore bikini bottoms
Her legs are smooth and nice but I didn’t love her basically
She will not talk to me and I will not force her to
But I am apologizing to her in a poem which means what it means qua meaning ipso facto doom
I’m carrying such a heavy Chris Burden
One time I was described as "an extreme individual"
. . . so, you know, whatever. I actually like the poem a lot but I like everything right after it's done. That's why I went in search of other poems and found that Dana Guthrie Martin one.

Hiin Enkelte means, roughly, "that one" in Danish and can be transliterated as "authentic individual" or perhaps Dasein, though I'm not sure that's helpful.

Chris Higgs wrote about Light Boxes and sent his thoughts to Shane Jones, who posted them onto his blog. The thoughts are great thoughts. Chris reads and writes so thoughtfully. He got hung up on a detail that might be seen as extraneous to the story, but something that I think is required to "properly understand" (ha, well, actually no, not "properly" and not "understand") what is happening in the book. Chris came to this conclusion too. The things that are written on page 98 are less important than the fact that they are written.

I like Chris Higgs a lot. He seems to consume books and art in general not with any careerist or even supportiveness intentions, but out of a sincere interest. I have been buying a lot of books because I like the people who are doing them, that is, I like what they are doing, but then the book goes into my pile and I am not sad that I cannot be reading it right then at that second. I would say that is a good percentage of the books I have been buying. I do look forward to reading each of them, but I don't have any plan to do it soonish. Last night I unwrapped my new Johannas Goransson A New Quarantine Will Take My Place and my new Valzhyna Mort Factory of Tears (well, this one wasn't bought just to support Copper Canyon) and I immediately wondered how much I could sell them for once I don't care about this stuff anymore.

I'm just saying this in case someone else has ever thought this way and didn't want to say it. We can have solidarity. We can be pessimistic together and admire the brainy optimism of Chris Higgs.

Sometimes I read Lee Child thriller novels and get angry at things that distract me from them. Like if I'm on a camping trip with my family and I just want to read this stupid novel but my brother is like "hey let's go kayaking" I'll be like "shut up." I never feel that way about poetry.

Except maybe for the poetry of Mairead Byrne and Matt Cook.

I feel that way about the blogging of Sean Lovelace, too, but that's different.

At my job I submit "requisitions" for purchase orders that go through our internal system of tubes and sprockets up to the high floors where millionaires look them over and decide whether to approve the requisition or not. I have to attach all sorts of documents to them, like service agreements and proposals and business justifications. Every time I do it I wonder if maybe I should stick a poem in there too, something short and moving. I know these millionaires aren't blogging all day so maybe they could use a distraction. The thing is, though, that I don't think they would care and why should they? Things are never good enough to capture the attention of people who don't already care.

Creating something that surprises people with the realization that something else matters that they didn't know about is my objective correlative.


Josh Maday said...

Ditto your fond feelings about Chris Higgs and Sean Lovelace, etc.

I got my copy of Light Boxes the other day and I'm excited to read it. Looks great. The layout is beautiful and the cover makes the eyes sort of constrict and zoom in as though the image were four million miles deep. Nice work.

Looking forward to your book of poetry, too.

Ryan W. Bradley said...

i keep meaning to enter the contest... but haven't found the time yet...


Light Boxes is gorgeous, to look at and to read.

Ryan W. Bradley said...

okay, i entered now...

Adam R. said...

Many thanks to you Josh.
Okay Ryan, I got it. Very good.

Kate said...

Everyone says Light Boxes is beautiful and I agree. You really did something genius, genius. It's beautiful.

The blog of Adam Robinson and Publishing Genius Press