Saturday, October 8, 2011


I haven't been happy with my reading lately, nor with my blogging, nor with my interacting with books. To fix that quickly, I'm gonna talk about a few books I've read in recent weeks:

Work's Tiring (from his Complete Poems 1930-1950 Disaffections) by Cesare Pavese

I'm not sure if I've ever read a book of poems like this before. So calm, so freshly narrative. Pavese knows what stories to tell, what images to show. Like in the following poem, "Ballet," where Pavese molds together the image of the giant and his various women, around them places the fight, the chaos of life. When the BOOYEAH image comes, in the final stanza below, I'm shaking my head as the poem ends, like I did with most of these poems, astounded not that I didn't see it coming (oh how warm I am, nuzzled along by Pavese's charm), but baffled by his vision, his shaping of the things I need to see.

Ballet (Read Whole Poem)

If the woman and the giant take off their clothes—
and later they will—the giant will resemble
the serenity of cliffs grown hot in the sun,
the girl-child pressing against them for warmth.

Thank You and Other Poems (from the Collected Poems) by Kenneth Koch

How did I make it this long without Koch? A huge influence of some of my favorite poets, like Dean Young, I'd only read some Koch in anthologies. I saw this collected poems at a Half Price Books and boy it must be fate or destiny or killer timing. Besides having a wonderful coverface to look at, the poems inside are majorly energetic. There's a sort of sense of enjoyment in life that I'm constantly looking for (both in living and in my poems) and Koch has painted a nice how-to guide. "To You" has shot straight up my FAVORITE POEMS OF ALL TIME list because it does that: finds the joy and splatters it on every wall. OH KOCH I'LL NEVER LET YOU GO.

To You (Read Whole Poem)

I love you as a sheriff searches for a walnut
That will solve a murder case unsolved for years
Because the murderer left it in the snow beside a window
Through which he saw her head, connecting with
Her shoulders by a neck, and laid a red
Roof in her heart.

Simple Machines by Michael Bible (Awesome Machine Press)

This might sound silly, but this book is a fabulous reminder of how letters (and sounds) combine to make words, words to make sentences. The sentence: a simple machine that can be so loud, can create so much. The sentences here don't have to add up to say something grand, though they might. For me, this reminder was enough: DON'T FORGET WHAT A SENTENCE CAN DO.

Praying Is boring.

The doctors think
everything is interesting.

The Voice Of The Poet (audiocassette and book) by W.H. Auden

Todd gave me this thing and I listened/read along to each side on its own night. After school, I'd come home, hop in some gym shorts, and plop on my bed and listen to Auden say his goodness. I'm glad I didn't tackle a lot of Auden a few years ago, because my silliness would have got caught up in his rhyming, his "oldness." Now, I see that he's as fresh as the day he wrote those poems. Go read from "In Time Of War"and tell me I'm wrong.

A Coney Island Of The Mind by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

This one got read in a treestand, opening day of bowhunting 2011. Weird right? Five deer probably walked by me and I didn't look up. I didn't care. My goal was rereading this powerful book in its entirety. Speaking of lists earlier, I'd probably put this as top 10 poetry books of all-time for me. I'm amazed by how Ferlinghetti can holler without seeming whiny, can philosophize without being preachy, can slam it out without being attacking.

1 (Click Here For Whole Poem)
In Goya’s greatest scenes we seem to see
the people of the world
exactly at the moment when
they first attained the title of
‘suffering humanity’
They writhe upon the page
in a veritable rage
of adversity
Heaped up
groaning with babies and bayonets
under cement skies
in an abstract landscape of blasted trees
bent statues bats wings and beaks
slippery gibbets
cadavers and carnivorous cocks
and all the final hollering monsters
of the
‘imagination of disaster’
they are so bloody real
it is as if they really still existed

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