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Mike Snider's Formal Blog at the Sonnetarium

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Henry Gould's been posting insightfully about the dialectic between the NY School and the langpo/avantist wings of the poetry blogosphere, pointing out that both ignore, in their separate ways, what he calls "probably the most basic function of poetic harmonics: to lead the reader/listener to a recognition of inherent and beautiful equilibrium, to a visionary repose where contemplation, activity & pleasure reflect some kind of perennial life-principle." Although I'm skeptical of anything resembling a life-principle, that sounds about right to me. I do worry about too easy an acceptance of Ron Silliman's "quietude"—ain't it delicious he got it from Poe?— and that it might seem to exclude, say, the Odyssey, or Byron's Don Juan.

Byron is especially interesting to think about in terms of the divide Henry points out: a political revolutionary and adventurous formalist whose influence can be seen in writers as diverse as Frank O'Hara and Richard Wilbur, but not, as far as I can tell, among the politically committed and formally serious langpoets and their associates. I have some ideas about why, which I'll post tomorrow if the drive home doesn't wear me out too much for coherence, or Saturday if it does. In the meantime, I'd love to hear by email or in the comments below what you folks have to say about Byron.


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Monday, August 25, 2003

Back from a week in Linköping, Sweden, and my first impression is that everyone in the US is fat. Not much poetry there, at least not yet. Maybe after I get over jet lag.

I did read two verse novels on the plane: Glyn Maxwell's Time's Fool on the way there, and Vikram Seth's The Golden Gate on the way back. I'd read The Golden Gate before, but not at a single sitting. Reading them that way, just a week apart, was both humbling and inspiring, since I've been almost working on a long blank verse science fiction tale for about 20 years. Now I think rhyme might help me get going on it again. Seth's rhymes, in particular, are ingenious and at the same time sound natural; Maxwell's terza rima, even as loosely as he rhymes, provides part of the narrative drive of Time's Fool.

It's been too long to get back to the translation thing I feebly tried to start in June. My thanks to Kasey for his contribution and my apologies to everyone. Apologies as well to Jordan: I did reread William Carlos Williams, but found I had absolutely nothing to say about his work.


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Wednesday, August 13, 2003

OK, I lied. Written at Starbucks after two iced coffees following 2 glasses of Black Opal Shiraz at Outback. What a life, huh?

From Middle School to Freshman Year

Dancing with Debbie, shyly stepping round
And round, avoiding belly, thighs, and breasts,
I got a hardon and she grinned--"You having fun?"
I didn't know! Not even why she asked.

Marilyn sat where I could bump my knee
Against her ass. I didn't think she knew.
Then one day she and Tina switched their seats
And I heard Tina giggle, "God, it's true!"

Betsy from Brooklyn sat me down and said,
"It's been two weeks. We haven't fucked. It's clear
There's no attraction here. We'll just be friends."
That afternoon I'd kissed her everywhere!

I had good teachers, but I'd yet to learn
That girls, like me, would sometimes want to burn.


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Monday, August 11, 2003

I managed to blow off the last 6 weeks through a combination of heat-induced torpor, hilarious ineptitude at moving Radio Userland from one computer to another, a week's vacation with my wife for the first time in 9 years without the kids for more than a few hours (woohoo!), a new loud, drunken neighbor, and adventures in other people's domestic violence (not so woohoo). Next week I go to Sweden for software development training and it's pretty hectic getting ready for that. Unless something unexpected happens, I won't be blogging until the last week of August. But I've got a bunch of cool stuff (well, I think it's cool) ready to go then. Thanks for your patience, all three of you still looking.

One thing before I go—at one of those temporary book stores in strip malls I found a first edition hard copy of Thom Gunn's Boss Cupid for 4 bucks. I read the first poem, "Duncan," while I was standing in the checkout line, and almost couldn't see to pay for it.


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