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.