Here’s how the game works.
Let’s start with Homer.
Reading Homer is like... You are 22. It is mid-summer. You are playing the board game Risk with young and old family members, drinking ouzo, eating lamb on a large, open-air porch.
Reading Wallace Stevens is like…You are 60. It is fall. You are squeezed into a little uptown Manhattan jazz club, slightly buzzed, but hungry. An elegant stranger looks you up and down and it seems they are going to speak to you, but they only end up giving you a snooty look, and turn away…
Reading John Ashbery is like…You are 20. You are talking to your favorite English teacher in a bar who you happened to run into by accident, for the first time outside of school. You are drunk on 2 drinks; he seems sober on 12. He’s really cool, and he sure can talk, but you keep waiting for him to get to the point…
Reading W.H. Auden is like…You are 36, It is early spring. You are listening to a trio play Vivaldi in a museum. Your amusing friend has excused himself and they’ve been gone for quite some time, and you’re a little worried.
Reading Poe is like…You are 9. It’s late winter. You are drawing a vase of lilacs early in the morning before anyone else is up, and you’re doing a crossword puzzle at the same time.
Reading T.S. Eliot is like… You are 17. It is autumn. You are rowing across a lake in a rowboat, wearing a suit; a slightly older person in a stylish hat is with you. You are afraid they don’t love you.
Reading Frank O’Hara is like… You are 29. It is spring. You are playing poker at a drunken party for high stakes and you are winning. You ask somebody please put another record on the phonograph.
Reading Philip Larkin is like… You are 49. It is spring. You are purchasing a ticket at a railway station. You have just had a nice meal, with drinks before and after.
Reading WC Williams is like… It is mid-winter. You are 99, and staring at yourself in the mirror.
Reading Wordsworth is like… You are 12. It is late summer. You are playing hide and seek with your younger cousins in the woods. You are tired of looking. Everyone, it seems, is gone. It is starting to rain.
Reading Dante is like….You’re 31. It is the beginning of spring. You are at a rap concert, but you hate the music. Your beautiful date, it is obvious, dislikes the music, too. You finally discuss this in the lobby. You both stay. You don’t know where else to go.
Reading Charles Bernstein is like… You’re 2. It is winter. You are indoors, where it is quite warm. You are hitting your sister, 1, with a scrabble board.