Friday, September 23, 2011

Fresh Air, by Kenneth Koch

Our poet pundits:

Joanna Fuhruman is the author of four collections of poetry. Her most recent book is Pageant (Alice James Books). She is a graduate of the University of Washington MFA program, and teaches creative writing at Rutgers University and in public schools and libraries through Poets House and Teachers & Writers Collaborative. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, the playwright Robert Kerr

David Shapiro's most recent book of poetry is the New and Selected Poems (1965-2006) (The Overlook Press). He's received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Zabel Prize for Experimental Poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a nomination for a National Book Award.

Today's poem:

Fresh Air
by Kenneth Koch

At the Poem Society a black-haired man stands up to say
“You make me sick with all your talk about restraint and mature talent!
Haven’t you ever looked out the window at a painting by Matisse,
Or did you always stay in hotels where there were too many spiders
crawling on your visages?
Did you ever glance inside a bottle of sparkling pop,
Or see a citizen split in two by the lightning?
I am afraid you have never smiled at the hibernation
Of bear cubs except that you saw in it some deep relation
To human suffering and wishes, oh what a bunch of crackpots!”
The black-haired man sits down, and the others shoot arrows at him.
A blond man stands up and says,
“He is right! Why should we be organized to defend the kingdom
Of dullness? There are so many slimy people connected with poetry,
Too, and people who know nothing about it!
I am not recommending that poets like each other and organize to fight them,
But simply that lightning should strike them.”
Then the assembled mediocrities shot arrows at the blond-haired man.
The chairman stood up on the platform, oh he was physically ugly!
He was small-limbed and –boned and thought he was quite seductive,
But he was bald with certain hideous black hairs,
And his voice had the sound of water leaving a vaseline bathtub,
And he said, “The subject for this evening’s discussion is poetry
On the subject of love between swans.” And everyone threw candy hearts
At the disgusting man, and they stuck to his bib and tucker,
And he danced up and down on the platform in terrific glee
And recited the poetry of his little friends—but the blond man stuck his head
Out of a cloud and recited poems about the east and thunder,
And the black-haired man moved through the stratosphere chanting
Poems of the relationships between terrific prehistoric charcoal whales,
And the slimy man with candy hearts sticking all over him
Wilted away like a cigarette paper on which the bumblebees have urinated,
And all the professors left the room to go back to their duty,
And all that were left in the room were five or six poets
And together they sang the new poem of the twentieth century
Which, though influenced by Mallarmé, Shelley, Byron, and Whitman,
Plus a million other poets, is still entirely original
And is so exciting that it cannot be here repeated.
You must go to the Poem Society and wait for it to happen.
Once you have heard this poem you will not love any other,
Once you have dreamed this dream you will be inconsolable,
Once you have loved this dream you will be as one dead,
Once you have visited the passages of this time’s great art!

“Oh to be seventeen years old
Once again,” sang the red-haired man, “and not know that poetry
Is ruled with the sceptre of the dumb, the deaf, and the creepy!”
And the shouting persons battered his immortal body with stones
And threw his primitive comedy into the sea
From which it sang forth poems irrevocably blue.

Who are the great poets of our time, and what are their names?
Yeats of the baleful influence, Auden of the baleful influence, Eliot
of the baleful influence
(Is Eliot a great poet? no one knows), Hardy, Stevens, Williams (is
Hardy of our time?),
Hopkins (is Hopkins of our time?), Rilke (is Rilke of our time?),
Lorca (is Lorca of our time?), who is still of our time?
Mallarmé, Valéry, Apollinaire, Éluard, Reverdy, French poets are still
of our time,
Pasternak and Mayakovsky, is Jouve of our time?

Where are young poets in America, they are trembling in publishing
houses and universities,
Above all they are trembling in universities, they are bathing the
library steps with their spit,
They are gargling out innocuous (to whom?) poems about maple trees and
their children,
Sometimes they brave a subject like the Villa d’Este or a lighthouse
in Rhode Island,
Oh what worms they are! they wish to perfect their form.
Yet could not these young men, put in another profession,
Succeed admirably, say at sailing a ship? I do not doubt it, Sir, and
I wish we could try them.
(A plane flies over the ship holding a bomb but perhaps it will not
drop the bomb,
The young poets from the universities are staring anxiously at the skies,
Oh they are remembering their days on the campus when they looked up
to watch birds excrete,
They are remembering the days they spent making their elegant poems.)

Is there no voice to cry out from the wind and say what it is like to
be the wind,
To be roughed up by the trees and to bring music from the scattered houses
And the stones, and to be in such intimate relationship with the sea
That you cannot understand it? Is there no one who feels like a pair of pants?

Summer in the trees! “It is time to strangle several bad poets.”
The yellow hobbyhorse rocks to and fro, and from the chimney
Drops the Strangler! The white and pink roses are slightly agitated by
the struggle,
But afterwards beside the dead “poet” they cuddle up comfortingly
against their vase. They are safer now, no one will compare them to
the sea.

Here on the railroad train, one more time, is the Strangler.
He is going to get that one there, who is on his way to a poetry reading.
Agh! Biff! A body falls to the moving floor.

In the football stadium I also see him,
He leaps through the frosty air at the maker of comparisons
Between football and life and silently, silently strangles him!

Here is the Strangler dressed in a cowboy suit
Leaping from his horse to annihilate the students of myth!

The Strangler’s ear is alert for the names of Orpheus,
Cuchulain, Gawain, and Odysseus,
And for poems addressed to Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald,
To Ezra Pound, and to personages no longer living
Even in anyone’s thoughts—O Strangler the Strangler!

He lies on his back in the waves of the Pacific Ocean.

Supposing that one walks out into the air
On a fresh spring day and has the misfortune
To encounter an article on modern poetry
In New World Writing, or has the misfortune
To see some examples of some of the poetry
Written by the men with their eyes on the myth
And the Missus and the midterms, in the Hudson Review,
Or, if one is abroad, in Botteghe Oscure,
Or indeed in Encounter, what is one to do
With the rest of one’s day that lies blasted to ruins
All bluely about one, what is one to do?
O surely one cannot complain to the President,
Nor even to the deans of Columbia College,
Nor to T. S. Eliot, nor to Ezra Pound,
And supposing one writes to the Princess Caetani,
“Your poets are awful!” what good would it do?
And supposing one goes to the Hudson Review
With a package of matches and sets fire to the building?
One ends up in prison with trial subscriptions
To the Partisan, Sewanee, and Kenyon Review!

Sun out! perhaps there is a reason for the lack of poetry
In these ill-contented souls, perhaps they need air!

Blue air, fresh air, come in, I welcome you, you are an art student,
Take off your cap and gown and sit down on the chair.

Together we shall paint the poets—but no, air! perhaps you should go
to them, quickly,
Give them a little inspiration, they need it, perhaps they are out of breath,
Give them a little inhuman company before they freeze the English
language to death!
(And rust their typewriters a little, be sea air! be noxious! kill
them, if you must, but stop their poetry!
I remember I saw you dancing on the surf on the Côte d’Azur,
And I stopped, taking my hat off, but you did not remember me,
Then afterwards you came to my room bearing a handful of orange flowers
And we were together all through the summer night!)

That we might go away together, it is so beautiful on the sea, there
are a few white clouds in the sky!

But no, air! you must go . . . Ah, stay!

But she has departed and . . . Ugh! what poisonous fumes and clouds!
what a suffocating atmosphere!
Cough! whose are these hideous faces I see, what is this rigor
Infecting the mind? where are the green Azores,
Fond memories of childhood, and the pleasant orange trolleys,
A girl’s face, red-white, and her breasts and calves, blue eyes, brown
eyes, green eyes, fahrenheit
Temperatures, dandelions, and trains, O blue?!
Wind, wind, what is happening? Wind! I can’t see any bird but the
gull, and I feel it should symbolize . . .
Oh, pardon me, there’s a swan, one two three swans, a great white
swan, hahaha how pretty they are! Smack!
Oh! stop! help! yes, I see—disrespect for my superiors—forgive me,
dear Zeus, nice Zeus, parabolic bird, O feathered excellence! white!
There is Achilles too, and there’s Ulysses, I’ve always wanted to see them,
And there is Helen of Troy, I suppose she is Zeus too, she’s so
terribly pretty—hello, Zeus, my you are beautiful, Bang!
One more mistake and I get thrown out of the Modern Poetry
Association, help! Why aren’t there any adjectives around?
Oh there are, there’s practically nothing else—look, here’s grey,
utter, agonized, total, phenomenal, gracile, invidious, sundered, and
Elegant, absolute, pyramidal, and . . . Scream! but what can I
describe with these words? States!
States symbolized and divided by two, complex states, magic states,
states of consciousness governed by an aroused sincerity, cockadoodle
Another bird! is it morning? Help! where am I? am I in the barnyard?
oink oink, scratch, moo! Splash!
My first lesson. “Look around you. What do you think and feel?” Uhhh .
. . “Quickly!” This Connecticut landscape would have pleased Vermeer.
Wham! A-Plus. “Congratulations!” I am promoted.
OOOhhhhh I wish I were dead, what a headache! My second lesson:
“Rewrite your first lesson line six hundred times. Try to make it into
a magnetic field.” I can do it too. But my poor line! What a
nightmare! Here comes a tremendous horse,
Trojan, I presume. No, it’s my third lesson. “Look, look! Watch him,
see what he’s doing? That’s what we want you to do. Of course it won’t
be the same as his at first, but . . .” I demur. Is there no other way
to fertilize minds?
Bang! I give in . . . Already I see my name in two or three
anthologies, a serving girl comes into the barn bringing me the
She is very pretty and I smile at her a little sadly, perhaps it is my
last smile! Perhaps she will hit me! But no, she smiles in return, and
she takes my hand.
My hand, my hand! what is this strange thing I feel in my hand, on my
arm, on my chest, my face—can it be . . . ? it is! AIR!
Air, air, you’ve come back! Did you have any success? “What do you
think?” I don’t know, air. You are so strong, air.
And she breaks my chains of straw, and we walk down the road, behind
us the hideous fumes!
Soon we reach the seaside, she is a young art student who places her
head on my shoulder,
I kiss her warm red lips, and here is the Strangler, reading the
Kenyon Review! Good luck to you, Strangler!
Goodbye, Helen! goodbye, fumes! goodbye, abstracted dried-up boys!
goodbye, dead trees! goodbye, skunks!
Goodbye, manure! goodbye, critical manicure! goodbye, you big fat men
standing on the east coast as well as the west giving poems the test!
farewell, Valéry’s stern dictum!
Until tomorrow, then, scum floating on the surface of poetry! goodbye
for a moment, refuse that happens to land in poetry’s boundaries!
adieu, stale eggs teaching imbeciles poetry to bolster up your egos!
adios, boring anomalies of these same stale eggs!
Ah, but the scum is deep! Come, let me help you! and soon we pass into
the clear blue water. Oh GOODBYE, castrati of poetry! farewell, stale
pale skunky pentameters (the only honest English meter, gloop gloop!)
until tomorrow, horrors! oh, farewell!

Hello, sea! good morning, sea! hello, clarity and excitement, you
great expanse of green—

O green, beneath which all of them shall drown!

Ready, set, crossfire!

Joanna Fuhrman: Sometimes I am at a reading and the overwhelming desire to leap from my seat and scream the words of “Fresh Air” at the reader and organizer comes over me, so I have come up with a solution for these situations.

Let’s say you go the academy/university/uptown reading to hear the mercurial words of poet X (visiting from the banks of outer space), and while there you are made to listen to poet Q (visiting from his or her 10th artist colony of the year) reading about the jade-like flowers at his or her summer house in Northern Italy or Southern France and how the glittering bloom reminds him or her of a book he or she read about Count Lyfstina.

Instead of jumping up, I suggest you clasp your hands together in quasi-prayer, and then look around and smile at the other poets in the audience who also have their hands clasped together.

This will be our secret!

David Shapiro: Kenneth Koch's freshness has been fresh a long time. He used to joke in class that what you wanted was a new baby, a new poem, not a l00 yr old baby and a very ancient poem. Fresh Air seems to be his “Howl”, in the sense that it is a long but lyrical diatribe against rigid, gray, academic posturing.

He extols humor throughout, but enraged humor here. Matisse is eight out the window, and so is lightning. It is a poem of boasting and bile, a fight he told me he was waging against Richard Wilbur, but Kenneth is gracious enough to live without contemporary names. The targets are there, and the sense of adolescent fervor, Rimbaldien: Oh to be seventeen years old/Once again--and this is indeed a poetry of an urbanist and visionary at once. Koch cries out the name of the masters, but again, he told me he felt lucky not to be crucified by any masters. He names his favorite surrealists, but there is a constant skeptical rage throughout, Along with his anti-Vietnamese War poem, “Pleasures of Peace”, this is one of earliest of programmatic poems.

It's a poem with a plot. Frank O’Hara once scared me at 15 by telling me that he and Kenneth were going to kill me in a "Staying on Top: game.” It was playful but ominous, The Strangler is a Beowolfian stranger who strangles the mediocre as he sees it. As a parodist, Koch was simply the best, and his little touches of Wilbur-like touches are dismayingly punctual. He goes to prison, but is given the reviews he hates the most and which he got in trouble for burning, Air itself, fresh air is his nom de guerre, his myth and his muse. He rejects the tourism of dominant aesthetics and he is quite capable of limning a dictionary of bad words: "gray utter agonized total phenomenal, gracile, invidious, sundered and fused, elegant absolute, pyramidal. Kenneth Koch ends with a bright blue banner,? a Quixote like cry to drown bad poetry with virtues of clarity and excitement. He never stopped supplying his own fresh air that will be, I think, fresh for a long time.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ode to Melancholy, by John Keats

Welcome to the Situation Room:

Brendan Lorber runs LUNGFULL! magazine, hosts Secret Laboratory an online video interview series, curates The Zinc Reading Series and does The Acculorber Weekend Weather Report (which is not about the weather). He is teaching a workshop at the St. Mark's Poetry Project called "Poetry, ruin my life: the poetics of trouble." He is the author of Gold Star, Dash, and Your Secret among others. He packs light, but isn't afraid to pack heat if he has to.

Our poem:

Ode on Melancholy
by John Keats

No, no! go not to Lethe, neither twist
Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kiss'd
By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;
Make not your rosary of yew-berries,
Nor let the beetle, nor the death-moth be
Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl
A partner in your sorrow's mysteries;
For shade to shade will come too drowsily,
And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.

But when the melancholy fit shall fall
Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose.
Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
Or on the wealth of globèd peonies;
Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave.
And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.

She dwells with Beauty—Beauty that must die;
And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,
Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:
Ay, in the very temple of Delight
Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine;
His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.

Ready, set, crossfire!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Michael McClure Reading Poetry to Lions

Today's poem-performance:

Thanks to Thurston Moore for the tip on this one. It gets real good at the 2:06 mark.

Let's meet our poet-pundits:

Ben Estes is the author of The Strings of Walnetto Arrangements, forthcoming from Flowers & Cream. He is the co-editor of The Song Cave and lives in Northampton, Mass.

Ben Kopel currently lives in the Bywater neighborhood of New Orleans, La. He teaches creative writing and English literature to high school students. He is the author of the chapbook Because We Must (Brave Men Press). His full-length collection Victory is due out from H_NGM_N Books in spring 2012.

Ready, set, crossfire!

Ben Estes: This makes my fanny beat.

Ben Kopel: 1. Personally, this makes my beat beatific.
2. Allen Ginsberg wrote about H-O-W-L-S, not R-O-A-R-S!
3. a.k.a. DANIEL 6:22 – The Motion Picture.
4. Hell, Mike, you had me at …and the vampire neon codes.

NOTE: No hurt was done during the making of this movie.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ragged Old Flag, by Johnny Cash

Today’s poem-performance:

In our last show, we witnessed the poet Jewel recite a poem proudly before us while wearing a tattered American flag across her ample bosom. Today, the late, great Man in Black does the same while flying a tattered stars n' bars inside his heart. Please remove your hats and stand silently at attention. Thank you.

Our poet pundits:

Matt Mauch is the author of Prayer Book (Lowbrow Press), He teaches writing and literature in the AFA program at Normandale Community College. He lives in Minneapolis.

Chris Martin is the author of American Music (Copper Canyon) and Becoming Weather (Coffee House Press). He lives in Iowa City.

Ready, set, crossfire!

Matt Mauch: Inside this Johnny Cash is, matroyshka-like, a smaller Johnny Cash. The smaller one is flipping the bird, which makes this Johnny within a Johnny both matroyshka-like and Metamorphosis-like.

Were this turned into a Schoolhouse Rock animated short, we might see an uptick in the "general historical knowledge" that all the scorers of the tests that test for that say is in decline.

Like Johnny, more people should say "yella" when they mean the color of dandelions and the sun, since "yellow," everybody knows, is what you say when you answer the phone.

Chris Martin: All my meat-flag life I've desired it. Each flag that carries the fly from fruit to shit. I've flagged at the very moment of ecstasy, just so my head wouldn't hit the ceiling. Scott Joplin was known as the King of Ragtime and now Elvis and Michael are dead, too. But I've heard "Bethena" played as slow as a drunken flag waves. I'll never know if it waved goodbye or hello.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Love Poem, by Jewel

Today's poem-performance:

Let's meet our pundits:

Sun Yung Shin is the author of Skirt Full of Black (Coffee House Press), which received the Asian American Literary Award for Poetry in 2008. She is the co-editor of Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption (South End Press) and the author of bilingual Korean/English illustrated book for children Cooper’s Lesson (Children's Book Press).

Juliet Patterson is the author of The Truant Lover (Nightboat Books), which was selected by Jean Valentine as the 2004 winner of the Nightboat Poetry Prize and was a finalist for a 2007 Lambda Literary Award. She lives in Minneapolis.

Ready, set, crossfire!

Juliet Patterson: First off, while I'm generally a fan of metaphoric thinking, it's hard to think clearly about metaphor especially if it leads to equations such as you = wild horse, you = wings in the foothills of Montana and me = your hungry valley.

What kind of love are we talking about here?

Sun Yung Shin: I think I need to watch it again, I just kept thinking, "Jewel is HOT."

Sun Yung Shin: I just watched it again. I like how she pronounces her short "e"s like short "i"s as in "bend" sounds like "bind." I also like how she says "orchard" like "oh-r-chahd." I use the Def Poetry series in the classroom and I'm always surprised by my students' various reactions. I did enjoy Jewel's use of alliteration and her perfect enunciation. I liked the image of "calico children." The whole thing was lyrical, I guess I'll say that for it. Who am I to judge cowgirl poetry?

Juliet Patterson: And how about that "o" in Pooo-ems"?

Certainly, I'll allow for her perfect enunciation and Jewel's shy-sexy (is shy really sexy?) performance and this IS Def poetry afterall, where performance may indeed trump the mechanics of ANY POO-OEM, but I can't find the same sort of neutral (if not complementary) position you're taking here, Sun Yung: sorry.

I just can't get past those bulging metaphors, y'all, "my lover in the ocean of the worlds."

Please bring back the guitar and leave the American Flag to future burnings, Jasper Johns or uniforms.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Poetry Crossfire! News Bulletin

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Anne Waldman, Uh Oh Plutonium

Today's poem-performance:

Let's meet our pundits:

Brandon Downing is the author of Dark BrandonDark Brandon: Eternal Classics, The Shirt Weapon, and Lake Antiquity. He lives in New York. His website is

Dorothea Lasky is the author of AWEBlack Life, and the forthcoming Thurderbird, all from Wave Books. She lives in NYC and can be found online at

Ready, set, crossfire!

Brandon Downing: "I adore how, amid asymmetrics & era robotics,
The poet still managed to pull off a scarf;
Wove it into the alertness jumpsuit rather well."

Dorothea Lasky: "What gentle wind has fallen on the wings of my beloved?"
"Oh no, it is the wings of the three strange, glowing angels. Admit them. Admit them."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

From "Trilce," by Cesar Vallejo

Our poet-pundits:

Bryan Thao Worra is the author of four books, most recently Barrow. He is the first Laotian American to receive a Fellowship in Literature from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Lorena Duarte is a spoken word artist and performance poet born in El Salvador, raised in Minnesota and educated at Harvard University, and currently living in South Africa. She performs regularly with Palabristas, Latin@ Wordslingers, a Minnesota based Latino poetry collective.

Today's poem:

From "Trilce"
by Cesar Vallejo, trans. by Clayton Eshleman


Tomorrow that other day, some-
time I might bind for the saltatory power,
eternal entrance.

Tomorrow someday,
it would be the shop plated
with a pair of pericardia, paired
carnivores in rut.

Could very well take root all this.
But one tomorrow without tomorrow,
between the rings of which we become widowers,
a margin of mirror there will be
where I run through my own front
until the echo is lost
and I'm left with my front toward my back.

The crossfire:

Bryan Thao Worra: Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow in three verses today, eating moments with echo and widows. Some ink splashed on the paper hem of Truth, dancing sassily with the 25th hour whose face we can’t see.

Lorena Duarte: That I might leap, indeed, but I've no use for fancy words.
Prefer the starfish. No-front, no-back.
Just stomach, inside out and devouring.
On the sea – shitting – mouthing more useful than poet.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tunafish Sandwich Piece, by Yoko Ono

Poetry Crossfire! attempted, and failed, to secure Charlie the Tuna as a guest for this segment. We received only a curt, two-word note from the StarKist Corporation: "Sorry, Charlie." Happily, the team at Rain Taxi Review of Books was on call, and responded immediately to our urgent page.

The pundits:

Kelly Everding is the author of the chapbook Strappado for the Devil (Etherdome Press). She is the art director and business manager for Rain Taxi Review of Books.

Eric Lorberer is the editor of Rain Taxi Review of Books and the director of the Twin Cities Book Festival. He's served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts and speaks at conferences and literary festivals around the country as an advocate for independent publishing and literary culture.

The poem:

Tunafish Sandwich Piece (from Grapefruits, 1970 ed.)
by Yoko Ono

Imagine one thousand suns in the
sky at the same time.
Let them shine for one hour.
Then, let them gradually melt
into the sky.
Make one tunafish sandwich and eat.

The crossfire:

Kelly Everding: I am not partial to tunafish sandwiches, but I am partial to apocalyptic scenarios. One thousand suns in a finite space obliterates self, everything, including tunafish sandwiches. Makes me hungry.

Eric Lorberer: Holy acid refluxus! This is good advice, even if it's in a poem. Word to the wise, however: you'll need a critical can opener.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Ultimate Poem Is Abstract, by Wallace Stevens

Our guests:

Heather Christle is the author of The Difficult Farm and The Trees The Trees, both published by Octopus Books. She lives in Northampton, MA.

Michelle Taransky is the author of Barn Burned, Then, which Marjorie Welish selected for the 2008 Omnidawn Poetry Prize. She lives in Philadelphia where she teaches at the University of Pennsylvania.

The poem:

The Ultimate Poem Is Abstract
by Wallace Stevens

This day writhes with what? The lecturer
On This Beautiful World Of Ours composes himself
And hems the planet rose and haws it ripe,

And red, and right. The particular question—here
The particular answer to the particular question
Is not in point—the question is in point.

If the day writhes, it is not with revelations.
One goes on asking questions. That, then, is one
Of the categories. So said, this placed space

Is changed. It is not so blue as we thought. To be blue,
there must be no questions. It is an intellect
Of windings round and dodges to and fro,

Writhings in wrong obliques and distances,
Not an intellect in which we are fleet: present
Everywhere in space at once, cloud-pole

Of communication. It would be enough
If we were ever, just once, at the middle, fixed
In This Beautiful World Of Ours and not as now,

Helplessly at the edge, enough to be
Complete, because at the middle, if only in sense,
And in that enormous sense, merely enjoy.

The crossfire:

Heather Christle: Surrounded by such reason one cannot help
but imagine that the middle is at last at hand
and that whichever edges one has seen
one also has imagined. Has had. Has held.
Having in point though disappeared one is
weatherlike. One are all clouds.

Michelle Taransky: Reading this poem this particular time, for the first time I think:
It is possible that Marjorie Perloff's chapter "Pound/Stevens: Whose Era?" is a homophone for Hugh Kenner's book "The Pound Era."
It is possible that Marjorie Perloff is "The lecturer/On This Beautiful World Of Ours."

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Endless Endless Night Night, by David Huberman

Today's poem:

Our guests:

Paula Cisweski's second book, Ghost Fargo, was selected by Franz Wright for the Nightboat Poetry Prize and released in 2010. She is also the author of Upon Arrival and of three chapbooks: How Birds Work, Or Else What Asked the Flame w/Mathias Svalina, and Two Museums. A Jerome Grant recipient and Pushcart nominee, her poems appear regularly in literary magazines such as A Handsome Journal; H_NGM_N; Forklift, OH; failbetter, and Poetry City, USA .

Sarah Fox was born in the year, month, and hour of the Horse. She lives in NE Minneapolis where, with John Colburn, she co-imagines the Center for Visionary Poetics (a future & futuristic collective) and hopes only & always to liberate her imagination from the snares of neoliberal imperialism. Her book Because Why was published by Coffee House Press, and recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Spout, Conduit, Tammy, ElevenEleven, Action Yes, Boo: A Journal of Terrific Things, and Rain Taxi. She contributes to the multi-author blog Montevidayo, teaches English and Creative Writing at the University of Minnesota, and serves as a doula. Her current manuscript project, Mother Substance, seeks to document the experiences of women exposed in utero to the synthetic estrogen Diethylstilbestrol (DES), and to subsequently suggest, by association, the multiple ways the bodies of women, children and all marginalized humans, as well as animals and nature, are contaminated by corporate greed and patriarchal institutions. She performs "poetry rituals" and other acts of intersubjective communion in public and private spaces whenever she can.

Ready, set, crossfire!

Paula Cisewski: At first I felt Huberman yelling at me. I was resistant. Then I focused on his hat's pin like a pendulum, and later on his pendulum fists. His pendulum fists! I know now Huberman yells through me. It's always been so. Vive le France!

Sarah Fox: My great-grandmother was a little called Pauline, but I don't know about a Little Sarah, or More Light! More Light! in this endless endless night night. Who's the host of "Poetry 88," he's like a world-is-too-much-with-him "Magnum P.I." (which Italians pronounce "manyum pie"), like he's so in-TENSE, don't you think? If I were a Jungian, I might say he's very "Tom Selleck Shadow Anima." John Colburn (below) made the claim that D's "doing all this at work," that is: dredging the web for obscure/occult-ish videos (etc) and really really this video is pretty fucking fucking amazing amazing! A little apple apple on his hat hat, a hanging dangling kinky appleness kinda "David Hubermeister" lovesexylovesexy but, "more than, to me [i.e. Manyum Manyum Pie Pie], about homosexuality or het-hero-sexuality… there is no one on the scene who writes quite like this Hollerman…I wish I could say something a little bit more interesting but…Mister David Hover-me." David Überman's RimbaudRainbow Poetry King Poetry King, "cuz in the night anything can happen and in the morning that's when you find the bodies." Don't we don't we know it know it! evoke the demon spirit!! sperm sperm night porn night porn icky icky help help help. Help! I'm in the outerwebs going on 1 month & can't google David Hooverman or Madman Sigh, or the obscurish Adam Fell, Zach Savich, & Mark Leidner. Well, I could've, but I watched this video from my car in the (serial killer serial killer) parking lot of a gas station with wireless! gas station with wireless! where I recorded Endless Endless Night Night on GarageFeces! GarageFeces! and now, I get that the video's the thing, the thing the thing the thing the thing, which I've only watched once once, because the sun sun was blazing blazing through my windows windows on little little me-me, sweating sweating sweating sweating! I spent part one of this endless endless month month at an "artist retreat" in Red Wing, MN (Vive la France, Vive la France!), where I met Tom-Tom Virgin (Virgin Virgin) from Miami Miami who's making a book book of glass glass, and Tom Virgin told a story story about a "Sincere [sincere] Poet [poet]" named Zach Zach Schomberg Schomberg. I don't know what that means, "Sincere Pope"—perhaps it turned up in our dark basement dark basement during my webless webless retreat reheat repeat—or how ZaxZax sin-sin-sin-cerity goes down in Miami Miami one thousand Miamis, maybe it's a forebear to the Lazy LAZY Compartment Poet. I experience David Huberbro as neither a "Sincere Killer" nor lazy—lazy people can't yell through Paulines, or through anyone else. Furthermore this is the first time I've ever seen A Little Called Paula YellYellYell. But Flavor Flaveman appears appears sincere sincere, if not too too (choo-choo cukoo) sincere to really really be a poet poet king king. His hat—if I recall—is like an embellished, but possibly leather (S&M! S&M!), fishing cap, very "Gilligan meets Richard Brautigan," and might belong to a descriptive category coined by my daughter when she lived in Williamsburg (you FUCKING FUCKING BROOKLYN BROOKLYN) known as "the 'Ironic Ironic Mustache.'" I don't recall David Hubiquitous having a mustache, but Magpie certainly did, didn't he? Is David Hubrismen a serial serial killer killer (Ted Bundy Ted Bundy's sea of fatal sperm sperm) (I'm in Wisconsin nownow, all ¡Vive Wisconsin! ¡Vive Le Part-tay!) or is he part of a microgenre we might classify as Crazy Banishment (demons demons demons demons) Gnosisetry? Don't hurt her Don't hurt her, Dave David Daver-man man MAN, are my finalsexy finalsexy word-words: endless endless endless endless blood blood blood blood don't dont don't don't Don't.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Allen Ginsberg Beat Poet Figurine

At issue:

Today on Poetry Crossfire! we examine the sheer existence of the "Allen Ginsberg Doll + CD Set," officially approved by the Allen Ginsburg Estate and yours today for a mere 4,500 yen. Comes with fabric cloth jacket and interchangeable accessories including glasses, a book, Uncle Sam hat (the Japanese website calls it an "Uncle Tom hat"--whoopsie daisy!), and a beaded necklace.

Our panel:

Travis Nichols is an editor at the Poetry Foundation and a columnist for the Huffington Post. He is the author of two collections of poetry: Iowa (Letter Machine Editions) and See Me Improving (Copper Canyon Press) -- and the novel Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder (Coffee House Press).

Monica Fambrough is the author of a chapbook Black Beauty (Katalanche Press). Her poems have appeared in H_NGM_N, Open City, Glitterpony, jubilat, and the anthologies Poets on Painters and Poems about Horses. She lives in Chicago.


Travis Nichols:  This is what family, alumni, and co-workers hope for when they hear you're a poet. Toy poet, not homo deadbeat monster pacifist wheezing in your ear about bindlestiffs & sexy boys. If you're so smart, why ain't you rich, art boy?

Monica Fambrough: This is something your parents would get you from the mall for a stocking stuffer, except, hmm it costs 4500 yen. How much is that?

I actually think this is probably something Allen would be into, because it is so weird and precious. Toys have a sort of sweetness to them. Also, it is dependent on his fame, which I understand was actually important to him. And it has a self-mocking element. It would have been sort of cool if it was made in the sixties. But now there is so much remove that it feels safe and he seems safe, like Travis said, Toy Poet like Toy Poodle. I prefer the full sized poodles.

Also, this is something we have in the back of one of our closets:

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Haiku, by Basho

Tonight, on Poetry Crossfire!, we ask the poetry punditocracy to contemplate a haiku written during the wanderings of a mysterious Edo Period poet. If we're still reading verse written by a drifter, does that mean America has lost it's competitive edge in the global economy?

Our guests:

Joshua Beckman is the author of seven books, most recently Take It (Wave Books). He is an editor at Wave Books and lives in Seattle and New York.

Steve Healey is the author of 10 Mississippi and Earthling, both on Coffee House Press. He lives in Minneapolis.

The poem:

by Basho

Across the road
from a field of sunflowers:
a sunflower.

Ready, set, crossfire!

Joshua Beckman: First let me preface my remarks by saying that it is exactly this sort of anti-social behavior I would expect from both a poem and a flower. I am certain my colleague here finds it all very charming but if we are to keep any social…(interrupted)

Steve Healey: Well, that may be true in your dark little vampire fuckfest, but guess what? Regular folks want more heliocentrism. Have you ever really been alone with your own sunflower seed and sucked out all the salt until it falls apart in your mouth?