A Good Interview…
…HERE. Matthew Henriksen talks to Graham Foust about humor, translation, and the Midwest:
“I should say, too, that I always think of myself as a midwestern poet, as that’s the only place with which I feel a kind of existential kinship. If seven years in California taught me anything, it’s that. In his terrific essay ‘Good-bye Wisconsin,’ the insanely underrated novelist Glenway Wescott says something about midwesterners being in the situation of ‘being born where they do not like to live.’”
I am astonished in my teaching to find how many poets are nearly blind to the physical world. They have ideas, memories, and feelings, but when they write their poems they often see them as similes. To break this habit, I have my students keep a journal in which they must write, very briefly, six things they have seen each day—not beautiful or remarkable things, just things. This seemingly simple task usually is hard for them. At the beginning, they typically “see” things in one of three ways: artistically, deliberately, or not at all. Those who see artistically instantly decorate their descriptions, turning them into something poetic: the winter trees immediately become “old men with snow on their shoulders,” or the lake looks like a “giant eye.” The ones who see deliberately go on and on describing a brass lamp by the bed with painful exactness. And the ones who see only what is forced on their attention: the grandmother in a bikini riding on a skateboard, or a bloody car wreck. But with practice, they begin to see carelessly and learn a kind of active passivity until after a month nearly all of them have learned to be available to seeing—and the physical world pours in. Their journals fill up with lovely things like, “the mirror with nothing reflected in it.” This way of seeing is important, even vital to the poet, since it is crucial that a poet see when she or he is not looking—just as she must write when she is not writing. To write just because the poet wants to write is natural, but to learn to see is a blessing. The art of finding in poetry is the art of marrying the sacred to the world, the invisible to the human.Linda Gregg, The Art of Finding (via haveapoemwithyourcoffee)
The body is the first writer of the poem. The mind is the caretaker who moves in to make order. Sometimes what the mind does to the poem is good. Sometimes, it’s too much. “I am an enemy of the mind,” writes Berryman, while Ginsberg insists that “mind is shapely.” With whatever trust or mistrust we have of it, the mind works the poem in a different way. But let’s be clear: intellects don’t write poems. While they’re wonderful to have, they are no substitute for the body’s senses of the world. Because the body is irrational, and the irrational is where discovery happens.D.A. Powell (via poetryeater)
stalks with their few
a black monarch
A friend’s funeral has broken up—
or was that the last dream?
Now I’m struggling
looking for Chuck.
It’s getting dark
and I’m pissed off
because he won’t answer his cell.
On the wall in a coffee bar,
a model’s arms
and stern, pretty face
frame a window
(where her chest should be)
and a clear sky beyond
All I want to do today is sit around Wyoming
until it gets dark.
It must be the time of year: the angle of the sun
has shifted, and the leaves are finally Wyoming.
I flip through a picture-book
by the light of one long window.
Vincent Van Gogh gathered inspiration
while Wyoming through the South of France.
I think he captured especially well
the shadows that fall as the sun is Wyoming.
These landscapes unfolded
on my lap remind me
of the season I was in love.
We’d sit together on the porch,
Wyoming en Español. It was the summer
I discovered bread and butter, and walked
through golden fields of rolled-up hay—
curls on the head of a giant saint.
But it’s another season now. Soon
my pet canary will begin Wyoming.
An old German folk song
is Wyoming on the radio.
Its consonant verses, freed of meaning,
deepen the whiteness of the sky.
I give a piece of cheese to the dog
so he’ll stop Wyoming,
then I cut off a piece for myself.
—via Boston Review
Two New Chapbooks
A. It’s the sound of the absence of sound.
B. It’s not soundlessness.
C. It’s the decay after hitting the whole note.
D. It’s the sound of being heard.
—from James Shea’s Air and Water Show
THIS LAST TIME WILL BE THE FIRST
The world is perfect
and that’s the problem.
You can’t discover
the lost treasure
if the ship didn’t sink.
This last time
will be the first.
—from Jeff Alessandrelli’s People Are Places Are Places Are People