Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Some stuff I've read recently.

I always think those book round-ups, where people talk about their experience reading several books they've read recently, are really awesome. Recent example: Roxane Gay over at HTMLGIANT.

Here's some stuff from my head:
- For All These Wretched, Beautiful, & Insignificant Things So Uselessly and Carelessly Destroyed... by Hosho McCreesh: Check out my single-sentence review over at Vouched.

- Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot: Sometimes, I get so wrapped up in contemporary and indie lit stuff that I forget about the goodness of people like Eliot. As I'm becoming more and more interested in long poems (somehow; I was always trying to find ways to not extend my poems beyond a page), this book was just what I need. Thoughtful meditation and sincere beliefs. I loved how this series took itself seriously in a way that some poetry today is afraid to. Eliot trudges forward unafraid of the big boys, the tough topics like life and death, time, and religion. Along similar lines of "The Wasteland," Eliot isn't afraid to risk torturing his readers by unleashing the torturing inside himself, through style and voice shifts. The thing I enjoyed most about this book was its sense of self, its fearlessness in searching for answers.

from "East Coker"
There is, it seems to us,
At best, only a limited value
In the knowledge derived from experience.
The knowledge imposes a pattern, and falsifies,
For the pattern is new in every moment
And every moment is a new and shocking
Valuation of all we have been.

- The July/August issue of The American Poetry Review: Though they've been really awful at getting me my issues (missed two of the four in my subscription so far), I do enjoy APR when I get it. This issue especially had me stoked because it was packed with people I like. Like 8 (yes EIGHT) new poems by Bob Hicok, along with an interview with him and a short essay about him). Like essays by Tony Hoagland and David Rivard. Like an interview with John Ashbery. I love how APR is unafraid to dedicate so much space to someone like Hicok with such a long selection of new poems. Obviously, it is risky because if the poems prove unpopular with a reader, there's a good amount of space taken up. Of course, I dug these poems; Hicok making further strides with the music of his poems, quirky meandering poems that breath out very well. Cynthia Cruz has a set of self-portraits in the issue that are impressive. Where the self-portrait often wants to expand and project, these poems use fragmentation that makes the self-portrait fresh, even non-self-focused. Overall, an issue full of more than great poems, but great thoughts about poems and great depth in engaging with poets.

from "Stop-loss" by Bob Hicok

The man beside you in fatigues, camouflaged
from Wednesday, holding his son’s hand
for the last time before he returns
to shooting at people, being shot at

in a war he thought he was done with,
I mean him: he wants to stop loss.
What a beautiful phrase for the army
to support. In it, I hear

that we’re through with grenades,
the violent enterprise of steel,
we’re on to the new war, the war against
the cannibalism of war.

- Skirmish by Dobby Gibson : Because this is the kind of poetry that I gravitate towards (white guy, discursive, associative, self-focused), I have to be careful not to read too much of it too often (read: trying to expand my range). After reading and falling in love with Matthew Zapruder's poem "Dobby's Sweatshirt," I've been itching to read this book. Amongst the stress of moving, I decided to console myself a little with this book. Overall, it's exactly what I expected. I don't know if that's a great thing or not. My favorite poems were the ones all titled "Fortune." Different than the typical style of one-two page poems, these only lasted a dozen or so lines playing strongly off the ideas of fortune and chance. I love how contemplative and thoughtful (kind of like the Eliot pieces) this series is; they piece various examples together in a way that equals an unstated fortune. The book as a whole didn't cure me, but it was a charming read that nursed me out of my stress zone.

Fortune (from H_NGM_N)

An iceberg calves and drifts
its first few feet toward destruction.
The motel hallway carpeting just goes on and on.
A cigarette is flicked from a speeding car,
a farmer files his horse’s teeth—
how is it that we can ever fall asleep?
There’s an infinity inside even
the shortest storms of our seen lives.
A Finn ladles water in his sauna.
He’s never met you, and that is why
he has to make himself feel better
by going someplace very small to be warm and alone.


Mike Young said...

i think the Fortune poems were also my favorite, but i disagree that Skirmish is overly self-focused, or "I" focused.

it seems far more into gazing outward and including/processing the world in a way that struggles to eclipse the filter of self, especially compared to the slovenly narcissism of somebody like Hoagland.

Tyler Gobble said...

Hm. I think I meant the self-focused thing as the perception of this "style," based on what he gets lumped with. Definitely you are right. There's an interesting struggle in breaking through the "I" as a processor of the world that is intriguing and admirable.

To the Hoagland point, which I must address because of my deep admiration for his work, I've always read it as an attempt to use the self as the example for larger issues/experiences, especially in his earlier books. Where Dobby uses the filter of the self as the very starting point to break away from, Tony is comfortable framing the self in its various appearances glories and faults. Both are certainly entertaining, useful, and admirable.

Hope that clarifies it a little.

Mike Young said...

i see your point about the hoagland, and there are a few hoagland poems i've really liked. i guess it's just hard for me to read most of his poems and not see his framing as preening that claims to be framing; that said, i'm definitely interested in being convinced otherwise!

BlogSloth said...

We're getting a new D golf course in Yorktown in a few weeks. If you want to go bowhunting with me, hit me up.

Tyler Gobble said...

I'll see what I can do, maybe round you up some of my favorite hoagland. Also, there's this essay by Halliday that might hold similar (and better worded) pro-Hoagland ideas to what I could muster. It's lengthy but a great read. The essay: http://www.ucmo.edu/pleiades/current_issue/documents/HallidayonHoagland.pdf

Thanks for your engagement.

Awesome. I'm playing again. Shoulder all healed. I moved home with my parents, but I'm only over in Elwood. I'd love to play disc again with you soon and definitely bowhunt once I get my hunting legs back under me. Where do you hunt?

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