THE JANUARY 2013 ISSUE OF POETRY REVIEWED, PART I

Is Poetry magazine the place where American poetry happens, today?

We certainly think so.

How did Poetry gain this eminent place?

It has a history—so people want to publish there, an important first criterion.  Secondly, it has elevated criticism, honest, democratic criticism—rather than puffing—to an equal place with the poems.  Thirdly, it has no editorial bias for a certain kind of poetry.  Lastly, Poetry has a cheery, accessible, web-site, chocked with poems.  Blog Harriet is mere cut-and-paste and does not allow reader comments, but one can read the entire issue of Poetry on-line (and make comments).  Kudos to the editors.

Here’s our review of the most recent issue:

Sara Miller is first with five poems and she is one of those poets too clever for her own good, stating confidently in the abstract what actually makes very little sense; “Cairo” is plain-talk mysticism with metaphor inside of metaphor inside of metaphor:

CAIRO
The evidence was in and it went to the contrary.
The contrary wound around us rather like a river.
The river reacted, spider-like, tangling up its legs
with other wet parts we thought we knew,
such as creeks and fjords and deltas and such.
A beaver sits on the riverbank watching all of this unfold.
He doesn’t know what a fjord is, and he doesn’t care
for other waters, or even other beavers, or the merest
hint of other business, so he removes this evidence.
Then he builds a structure which for years he is rehabbing.
Inside it is hollow and there is his nest.
He is a dark little bastard, all the same.
The water had a fine way of   being, now it is tortured
by these nests and their vassal.
Yet the river doesn’t overthrow the beaver.
Quite the contrary. The river goes around polite as a snake.
It argues a tiny bit at the edges of the lodge,
where young beavers could be napping.
You and I would let loose a flood of tears. Not the river.
You and I would seep hotly into our darkest places.
Not the river. It is a long way from home
and has that on its mind, the day of rising,
when the temples will all be cleansed
and the whole unfathomable truth will out.
According to the waters. According to their book.

Yes, we get it, Ms. Miller.  The river and the beaver represent cooperative, unsentimental nature, and “you and I,” the humans, weepy and word-obsessed, will be cleansed.  The faster Miller’s waters clean us, the better.  Her poem rebukes us like a flood.  Oh, and hurray for the beaver. And we pray those young beavers are napping still.

The best of her five poems is perhaps the third one, “Gravitas:”

The overweight, overnight parts
that came to me in a dream.
Their clothes no longer fit,
it was this that brought them
to me crying, their faces twitching.
That had to end. No, they said,
it didn’t. So I rolled over to ghosts
that couldn’t dent a pillow.
The clock shed. Night pulled its
burdens into harbor and I woke,
glad for the day, its telltale light,
its flying minute, that genie work,
and the everlasting perturbations
of my people, their glories,
their heavy last words,
and for these, I rose.
Miller, like many modern poets, seems to have more faith in words themselves than how they ultimately fit together.  The poet should make the words obey the poem: the words themselves ought not to dictate what the poem is; Sara Miller is a little too enamoured of the words she manages to gather together in her poems. Her poem, “Gravitas,” unlike the others, manages to prevail, with a certain unified lyric grace, over the poet’s wordy education.
A poem should have an existence outside of its words, but since words naturally point to something outside themselves, a complacency too easily sets in:—mad moments of word-play become substitutes for poems.
I wish I could keep my thoughts in order
and my ducks in a row.
I wish I could keep my ducks in a thought
or my thoughts in a duck.
My point is that we all exist, wetly, in the hunt.
This is how “Countermeasures” opens, and one sees how much Miller is in love with words—which is all very nice, indeed.
Cairo C-
Spellbound D
Gravitas B
Countermeasures D
Moves In The Field C
Nocturne C-
Barbara Hamby has one poem, “Letter To A Lost Friend,” which reveals the modern poet’s faith in words—which can lead the poet astray.
Auden once said that ‘a love of words’ serves a poet better than ‘having something to say.’  We see the point—no one wants a poem to boss them around—but we believe the advice has done much mischief.  Poets have been erring in the other direction for quite some time: too modest to ‘have something to say,’ they aren’t shy about making ‘the words’ everything.
Hamby’s poem begins: “There must be a Russian word to describe what has happened between us…”
We see here, in Hamby’s opening, the modern poet’s obsession with words.  Poetry, however, is not Scrabble.
Hamby then rambles deliciously, impressionistically, nostalgically, with quotes from Pushkin anchoring a poem that feels like it belongs to its references more than to Hamby, the poet—but this, of course, is the modern sensibility, the 100 year old reaction against the Romantic ego: quote Pushkin (who ‘had something to say’) but don’t dare be a poet yourself who has ‘something to say.’  Pushkin’s dead.  Don’t be a Pushkin. Hide behind your references, your education, your words…  It’s all very humble and nice.  Poetry, however, has nothing to do with humility.
We give “Letter To A Lost Friend” a B.  We don’t love Hamby. But we feel this is the best poem she could possibly write.
Brad Leithauser gives us a rather long poem called “A Vase,” invoking a grandmother’s memory of a seventy years old purchase; the poem threatens to pierce our hearts, but never quite does, because Leithauser is finally so informative—lovingly informative, of course: Detroit and Japan figure prominently, but the ‘lovingly informative’ has ruined many a poem because even in subtle ways the information becomes a little too important; Poe’s ‘didactic’ warning is lost on so many. They say one avoids sentimentality in a poem by supplying it with concrete details; but everyone knows the realist is a secret sentimentalist.
“The Vase” earns a B
Fanny Howe has a lovely phrase early on in her poem, “Three Persons:”
the diamonds that pelt Neptune
But as a whole, the poem is mystically detached, drifting from vague observation to vague observation.  We like this:
Be like grass, she told me,
lie flat, spring up.
But why doesn’t Howe say,
Be like grass:
lie flat, spring up?
Why the “she told me?”
Is it that she doesn’t, as herself, want to be caught saying something so obviously quotable in a 19th century sort of way?
The poem provides no context for the “she;” the rest of the poem is “we,” “I” and “you.”
This is the problem: in Howe’s poem we get half-context. 
We want to advise the poet: Either give a full and necessary context, or give none.
Either tell us who the “she” is, or get rid of “she told me.”
We give “Three Persons” a C-
Julian Stannard’s poem, “The Gargantuan Muffin Beauty Contest” is meant to be social commentary by way of the ridiculous, or the reverse; we chuckled a couple of times upon first reading it, but we were tired of it by the second reading.  Fate plays a cruel trick on the poet who can entertain but once.
…We were hurtling back
to the 1970s and sometimes the 1970s are almost
as good as the 1930s
We can’t argue with this.
I saw Leonard Cohen crooning with a couple
of octogenarian muffins and I’m telling you now
the lobby was pleasantly disturbing.
I have two words for Mr. Stannard:  Mad Libs.
We give his poem a D+ and we think a D+ in the 1930s and the 1970s is about the same.
Matthew Neinow has four poems which are all self-conscious, carpentry lyrics.  They fail when too pretentious; they succeed when “song” and “shaped wood” manage to casually cohere.
Ode to the Belt Sander & This Cocobolo Sapwood B-
Ode to the Gain C+
Ode to the Steam Box B-
End Grain C-
The two poems by Barbara Perez have that bruised, confessional tone which forces you to sit up and listen, even though you don’t really want to.  We like “A mind, when playing tricks is at its most sincere,” but too often her poems do just boss you around.
Strange Little Prophets C
Not For You, Not For the World D
Shann Ray’s two poems feature one preachy little thing (“We need to know in America…”) called “My Dad, In America” and then a delightful poem, “Hesperus,” written by his daughter, really.  It’s about words, again, but it works in this case because it’s in the realm where it belongs.  We need to quote it in full:
My four-year-old daughter handed me a card.
To Daddy written on the front
and inside a rough field
of  five-pointed lights, and the words
You’re my favorite Daddy in the stars.
In this western night we all light the sky
like Vega, Deneb, Altair, Albireo,
the Summer Triangle,
Cygnus the Swan, our hair
tangled with wood and gravel,
our eyes like vacant docks
that beckon every boat.
Tell me about the word
stars, I said.
Oh, she said. Sorry.
I didn’t know
how to spell world.
We love this.  Who could not love this?My Dad, In America D+
Hesperus B+
“The Fisherman’s Farewell” by Robin Robertson is hewn from Old World craft:
and black in the undertow, blue
as the blue banners of the mackerel, whipping west.
Who can resist the elegance of the pirate, or the finesse of the fisherman?
to dream the blank horizon and dread the sight of land
*
Their houses, heeled over in the sand:
each ruin now a cairn for kites
Arrgh.  We give Robertson a B-
Wendy Videlock clearly belongs to the Kay Ryan/Heather McHugh School.  She has five poems and here’s two of them:
Bane
Full of strength and laced
with fragility:
the thoroughbred,
the hummingbird,
and all things
cursed
with agility.
I Don’t Buy It
I don’t buy it, says
the scientist.
Replies the frail
and faithful heart,
it’s not for sale.
The line “It is always darkest before the leopard’s kiss” from “Proverbial” reminds us of Kim Addonizio, and then Videlock makes it a couplet: “Where there’s smoke there is emphasis.”  Videlock doesn’t fear ‘having something to say.’  For instance (again from “Proverbial”): “He is not wise that parrots the wise.”  “Better late than suffer the long introduction.”  She at least deserves points for clarity.
I Don’t Buy It D
Bane B-
If You’re Crowish D
Proverbial B-
A Lizard In Spanish Valley C-
“Their Pleas” by Kelly Cherry dares the reader to feel something, to care, but we’ll go out on a limb and admit we don’t understand the poem—and therefore we don’t care.  We have to give the poem a D-.
Those are the poems of the January 2013 issue of Poetry.
Next we’ll turn to the prose.
(To be continued)
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44 Comments

  1. Diane Powell said,

    January 8, 2013 at 5:37 am

    Tom, were you being ironic concerning Poetry Magazine’s poetry criticism?

    I would say that 99.9% of the poetry is academic, but so is the poetry in most literary journals these days. Since academia has a stranglehold over poetry, what else can one expect?

    Also, Wiman is leaving Poetry to teach at Yale.

    • thomasbrady said,

      January 8, 2013 at 4:02 pm

      Diane,

      No, I really think Poetry magazine’s criticism is more honest and entertaining than most. I am biased. I love Criticism. My love of poetry is wrapped up with a love of Criticism. Some people think Criticism is ‘finding fault.’ Well, yes and no. The world is, by definition, faulty, and the mind is, by definition, that which registers, and tries to fix, faults. If there were no fault in the world, there wouldn’t be any poetry. There’s many interesting things in the world precisely because there are faults. So if the world is faulty, I don’t see how one could not aspire to Criticism. Now, perhaps the world is perfect—but then there would be no reason to think, or add poetry to the world. Anyway, I’m glad Poetry magazine has made Criticism, Essays, Letters to the Editor, as prominent as the poetry. When it comes to poetry, “finding fault” in an across-the-board kind of way is OK with me.

      How would you define “academic” poetry? Cummings? Poe? Charles Bernstein? Jorie Graham? Non-Slam poetry? Poetry magazine doesn’t feel academic, though perhaps it is…

      Yea, I saw that Wiman was leaving…

      Tom

  2. Diane Roberts Powell said,

    January 9, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    Charles Bernstein, and Jorie Graham are very much academic poets. Poe was not at all an academic poet. His essays are sometimes a little didactic, but his poetry isn’t. Cummings wasn’t an academic poet either. I don’t know much about slam poetry. From what I’ve seen, it doesn’t appear to be academic. At the present time, almost all of the poetry published in Poetry Magazine, comes from academia.

    • noochinator said,

      January 10, 2013 at 12:58 am

      The Education-Credential Complex
      (Or academia, if you please)
      Was fortified during and after the War
      (The one against the North Vietnamese).

      Its purpose? Form an antiwar bulwark
      ‘gainst the complex ’bout which Eisenhower spoke—
      So now we have TWO huge rival complexes
      Hemorrhaging money, and it ain’t no freakin’ joke.

      Mil-Ind Complex, Ed-Cred Complex,
      And as if those two weren’t enough,
      The Medical-Pharmaceutical Complex
      Now too has its place at the trough.

  3. Diane Roberts Powell said,

    January 10, 2013 at 4:30 am

    This is juicy stuff Nooch. Yes, it’s true that there were a few profs, and quite a few students, during that era, who oppossed the war. However, I believe, through COINTELPRO, and other such measures, some of the people from that period were not who they pretended to be. Hint: what do you think would have happened to you or I (I was just a kid) if we had bombed places back then (including a police station)? Do you think that we could just come out of hiding later (hiding in plain sight) and be given jobs as professors? I don’t think so.

    How many professors are teaching their students about The Military Industrial Complex, COINTELPRO, MK-ULTRA, etc? Few, if any, because THEY ARE PART OF THE SYSTEM! Where do universities get their funding? They get their funding through the state and federal government, corporations, foundations (which are sometimes pass-throughs for the CIA), and donations from wealthy people.

  4. thomasbrady said,

    January 10, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Diane’s counter-intuitive view is correct, Nooch.

    It’s logical to think, as you do, that Ed-complex and Military-complex oppose one another, because we of course think of the classic anti-war prof versus the military general.

    As Diane is aware, the link which unites these two ostensibly opposing complexes is INTELLIGENCE—MK-ULTRA, etc. the stuff that doesn’t get taught, as Diane points out.

    Secrecy: the Absent is what is truly Present. The ordinary understanding does not grasp what is happening.

    Many prominent literary academics worked for OSS, the Strategic Bombing Survey, etc.

    Charles Bernstein was influenced by J.L. Austin, who worked for British Intelligence.

    The novelist Ford Madox Ford, associate of Ezra Pound (what was E.P., a major literary figure doing during WW II?) came over to the U.S. as an early teacher in Creative Writing (with New Critics Allen Tate and John Crowe Ransom). He was a high official in the War Propaganda Office for the U.K. during WW I. His job was to pump up support for the war. Then he turned around and wrote an anti-war novel about that war. “This is the saddest story ever told.”

    INTELLIGENCE officers do tricky stuff, and a big part of their job is spreading dis-information: making people confused and stupid. Perhaps advocating the kind of modernist poetry that no one understands? So generations of intellectuals end up advocating for poetry that no one understands—because these “poets” want to seem smart (and they also know where the academic funding is coming from, which Diane mentioned…)

    The model for what Diane is talking about is the British Empire, which was pro-war (military) and pro-drug (hippie professor). Think: East India Company, Opium Wars, etc

    Tom

    • noochinator said,

      January 10, 2013 at 5:43 pm

      I hardly deny there are manifold links
      ‘tween the MIC and the ECC, links extensive—
      E’en welcome them (somewhat) being a ‘Team America’ type;
      My gripe is these complexes are too expensive—

      And let’s not forget about the children’s public schools,
      Cranking out medicated, indoctrinated tools—
      I shouldn’t care much, and wouldn’t get tense
      If they didn’t operate at such extravagant expense.

  5. thomasbrady said,

    January 10, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    Pardon, dear Nooch, if I implied you were lost,
    When your focus—I realize—is taxpayer cost.
    We can talk about the poem, we can talk about the play,
    But all that matters at the end of the day
    Is cost—what is the price one’s soul has to pay?

    • noochinator said,

      January 10, 2013 at 9:02 pm

      Red-staters, Blue-staters,
      Both sides bought off—
      I s’pose their truce will hold
      ’til their funds are cut off—

      And should either side
      Get an itch in their loins—
      I s’pose they can be mollified
      With trillion dollar coins.

  6. February 28, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    Today, considering the fast way of life that everyone leads, credit cards have a huge demand throughout the economy. Persons from every area are using the credit card and people who are not using the credit card have prepared to apply for even one. Thanks for discussing your ideas about credit cards.

  7. John Brasher said,

    April 16, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    All you’ve accomplished by grading Julian Stannard with a D+ is highlight your own intellectual limitations.

    • thomasbrady said,

      April 16, 2013 at 5:11 pm

      John,

      I stand by my D+ grade.

      Did you read my analysis? Are you familiar with Mad Libs?

      I was mildly entertained by Stannard’s poem at first, but on a second reading, the poem fell apart, and I hated myself for liking it the first time.

      When Stannard reads his own poem a year later, I guarantee he’ll feel the same way.

      We know muffins are funny. They are. Muffins are hilarious. But they are funny once. Not twice.

      And saying the 1930s are like the 1970s? At first this was okay, but when I read it again, I thought: this is just stupid.

      It is stupid. The whole thing is stupid. It’s simply inane.

      D+ is exactly what Stannard deserves.

      I will not change that grade!

      Professor Muffin

  8. noochinator said,

    April 17, 2013 at 9:35 am

  9. Kelly Cherry said,

    October 19, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    The reader of “Their Pleas” is evidently too young to understand that those of us who have lost loved ones are besieged by them in dreams and reveries. S/he is, then, currently lucky, but won’t be for long.

    • noochinator said,

      October 19, 2013 at 4:22 pm

      I love your use of “s/he”,
      I’ve been using it for years!
      I doubt it will catch on though
      (Gender-related fears).

      • Kelly Cherry said,

        October 23, 2013 at 9:47 pm

        Many people have been using it for years.

        • noochinator said,

          October 24, 2013 at 11:18 am

          “He or she,” “his or her”:
          No wonder the masses use “they” or “their”
          For the third-person singular.

  10. thomasbrady said,

    October 19, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    Could someone post Their Pleas? We’ll look at it again.

    • thomasbrady said,

      October 19, 2013 at 5:56 pm

      This is the problem with simile: it gets us no closer to the truth. “Their Pleas” appears to be third world children begging before the poet who is a wealthy tourist. This is the sum of the poem, and there’s not one original observation. To learn that it is about dead friends alters our original judgment not at all, for the essence of the poem is still plain as can be. If you are writing of the marvelous, write marvelously, not in cliches.

    • October 20, 2013 at 10:39 am

      Their Pleas

      By Kelly Cherry

      They pluck my sleeve, tug my hand, pull
      my hair. They do not kneel to kiss my hem.
      No, it’s not like that but they want tokens.
      Again, not souvenirs but something small
      and useful, something that will help them out
      after life, maybe in an underworld.
      They need a sighted guide to lead them to
      the river, and they need a remnant of
      the old world as they embark for the older world,
      the one that has existed since the first
      grievous death. They need to feel they still
      can touch and still be touched, as once they did
      and were, and one would have to be a cold,
      uncaring woman to deny their pleas:
      a woman with a bulletproof  heart,
      without a memory of life on earth.

  11. Diane Roberts Powell said,

    October 20, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    I like this poem. The pleas could be read as coming from dead friends. Or it could actually be read as coming from the point of view of a woman who is already dead. I am somewhat reminded of Christina Rossetti’s poetry and of Adelaide Crapsey’s poem “Angelique.”

  12. thomasbrady said,

    October 20, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    The trouble with this poem is the poet, in rhetoric which is annoyingly tentative and inexact and vague, is speaking for those who are dead with absolute certainty— you would think the dead might know a thing or two about what it’s like to be dead, but they don’t speak or exist for the reader in any way that’s memorable, as the poet seems to want to be as dull as she can possibly be—as if imagination were a sin. Perhaps this is intentional, but if it is, we fail to see the point of intentionally writing a dull poem.

  13. thomasbrady said,

    October 20, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    Their pleas are pretty simple: a sighted guide to the river, to touch and be touched, and a remnant of the world of the living, and one would have to be uncaring not to give this to them, okay, fine. But who are they? And what is the poet’s relationship with them? And when their pleas are satisfied, what then?

  14. Diane Roberts Powell said,

    October 20, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    Well, I don’t think the poem is vague. Cherry does mention: “tokens” (for Charon), “river,” “after life,” “underworld,” and “death,” so I thought it was pretty clear that the poem was about death.

    • Kelly Cherry said,

      October 23, 2013 at 9:48 pm

      Thank you.

  15. thomasbrady said,

    October 21, 2013 at 11:35 am

    The imagery is vague. The dead are vague. Nothing is individualized. The use of language is not interesting. The moral is spelled out for us at the end. There is nothing memorable about this poem. It will die. Is this too young a response?

    • Kelly Cherry said,

      October 23, 2013 at 9:46 pm

      It’s a rather stupid reply, and yes, young.

      • thomasbrady said,

        October 24, 2013 at 11:49 am

        You are going to defend your dull piece of prose at all costs, aren’t you? You must have better poems than this. If we find some, we’ll promise to look at them. But it’s okay, standards are slack today. It’s not your fault. See, I don’t have a bulletproof heart.

        • Kelly Cherry said,

          October 25, 2013 at 12:42 am

          Oh, my, you are determined to believe that you know something. You don’t. You know nothing. It’s too sad.

    • October 24, 2013 at 1:48 pm

      Gethsemane

      On a hill backlit by twilight,
      the disciples gather like crows
      for the night.

      This is their down time, time to browse
      among the olive branches, Christ with them,
      their apostolic flight slowed at last to a head-nodding drowse,

      to a flutter of tattered cloak, the unraveling hem
      dragging in the dirt like a hurt wing.
      They flock momentarily around him,

      then settle down, safe in the soft swing
      of wind that rises and then falls back
      with the deepening evening

      into the distance, and sleep, while Christ’s black
      feathers burn in his father’s fist,
      plucked by God before Judas kissed.

      Kelly Cherry

      • thomasbrady said,

        October 24, 2013 at 6:57 pm

        Nice work on two opposing rhythms: 1. iambic for alacrity “their a-pos-tol-ic flight,” 2. didactic putting on the brakes “slowed-at- last-to”

        Intricate sound often works very well.

        The crow/black metaphor works up to a point, but feels strained with “Christ’s black feathers burn in his father’s fist…” have trouble seeing this. Is Christ a shorn crow?

        We see Cherry’s tendency to say less with more: in the first stanza, “gather for the night,” second stanza, “this is their down time,” third stanza, “dragging in the dirt like a hurt wing,” fourth stanza, “then settle down,” and final stanza, “and sleep.” It takes the whole poem for the disciples to do what we were told they did in the first stanza, “gather for the night.”

        The poem is a kind of lullaby for the crow-like disciples with the contrast of “Christ’s black feathers burn in his father’s fist,” a metaphor that makes or breaks the poem.

        One senses it took patience and skill to put this poem together, as one looks around for a reason why it was put together in the first place.

        I would give it high marks as a nice piece of sound-impressionism.

        Imagery-wise, it’s not as strong: How does twilight backlight a hill? How do crows gather for the night? What is Christ’s relationship to his feathers and that fist, exactly?

  16. Kelly Cherry said,

    October 25, 2013 at 12:44 am

    I can no longer deal with this. I hope you will grow up someday, and perhaps learn how to read a poem.

    • thomasbrady said,

      October 25, 2013 at 2:13 am

      “Learn how to read a poem.”
      ^
      Tell me my poem is great. Worship me.

  17. Diane Roberts Powell said,

    October 25, 2013 at 12:54 am

    I think that Tom is an agnostic, so that may have something to do with his take on “Gethsemane.” I think it’s a fine poem and appreciate the narrative pull and visual imagery.

    • thomasbrady said,

      October 25, 2013 at 12:55 pm

      Diane,

      My religious beliefs, or lack, have nothing to do with my reading, and I doubt Ms. Cherry’s work has ever been handled this way. Welcome to the world of honest reviewing, Ms. Cherry. “Gethsemane” has merits, but the poet herself appears frightfully boorish.

      Tom

      • Kelly Cherry said,

        October 28, 2013 at 11:59 pm

        Because I called you on your stupidity? Sweetie, you are the one who has no idea what honest reviewing is.

        • thomasbrady said,

          October 29, 2013 at 11:02 am

          Are you back for more abuse? You shouldn’t embarrass yourself like this. Every time I see the name KELLY CHERRY I will forever think of hackneyed phrases like “bullet proof heart” and awkward images like God’s fist clutching crow feathers belonging to Jesus Christ. Look around Scarriet, Kelly. Do you notice the beauty, the insights, the sophistication? Now compare that to your behavior. There’s still time to apologize, to weep redemptive tears. There’s still time. Sweetie. (Is that a little Virginia charm I hear?)

          • Kelly Cherry said,

            October 29, 2013 at 4:15 pm

            I will never apologize to scum like you. Get used to it.

            • Kelly Cherry said,

              October 29, 2013 at 4:16 pm

              But I will accept an apology from you.

              • thomasbrady said,

                October 29, 2013 at 6:40 pm

                Kelly,

                Our exchange is fully recorded on Scarriet.

                As you, I, and anyone can see, all my efforts have involved literary judgment, while your entire m.o. has been personal insult.

                You have been “wronged” only in the sense that your work has not been praised without reservation.

                We can have literary differences all day long, and if there’s an honest attempt to articulate them, enlightenment may result.

                But if the game is: “I am Kelly Cherry, poet laureate of Virginia, published in ‘Poetry,’ hear me roar!”

                Then my answer is: pffffffft.

                Good day, m’lady.

                Tom

                • Kelly Cherry said,

                  October 29, 2013 at 7:19 pm

                  I took your suggestion and checked out Scarriet. What I discovered is that your colleagues dislike you and do not believe you are doing the website any good with your nasty and unjustified critiques. You are going to have a hard life, my boy. Good luck with it.

                  • thomasbrady said,

                    October 29, 2013 at 8:07 pm

                    Thanks for checking out Scarriet.

                    Good luck to you, as well.

                    I hope there are no hard feelings.

                    Godspeed, Kelly!

                    Tom

  18. noochinator said,

    October 25, 2013 at 11:00 am

    St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) preached to the birds,
    or so the story goes—
    And as avians, we are less like doves
    and more like crows.

    “Father Francis and his companions were making a trip through the Spoleto Valley near the town of Bevagna. Suddenly, Francis spotted a great number of birds of all varieties. There were doves, crows and all sorts of birds. Swept up in the moment, Francis left his friends in the road and ran after the birds, who patiently waited for him. He greeted them in his usual way, expecting them to scurry off into the air as he spoke. But they moved not.

    “Filled with awe, he asked them if they would stay awhile and listen to the Word of God. He said to them: ‘My brother and sister birds, you should praise your Creator and always love him: He gave you feathers for clothes, wings to fly and all other things that you need. It is God who made you noble among all creatures, making your home in thin, pure air. Without sowing or reaping, you receive God’s guidance and protection.’

    “At this the birds began to spread their wings, stretch their necks and gaze at Francis, rejoicing and praising God in a wonderful way according to their nature. Francis then walked right through the middle of them, turned around and came back, touching their heads and bodies with his tunic.

    “Then he gave them his blessing, making the sign of the cross over them. At that they flew off and Francis, rejoicing and giving thanks to God, went on his way.”

    http://www.americancatholic.org/features/francis/stories.asp

    Quentin Crisp, another saint of sorts,
    said we’re all like plastic tables with a vinyl wood veneer:
    We look like fine wood, but are plastic underneath—
    The late great man was correct, I fear.

  19. October 30, 2013 at 10:34 am

    William Mayer’s “Distraught Soprano Undergoes Unfortunate Transformation”:

    Oh God, I’m on the stage, I have a cold,
    I need the words (I’m not that bold)
    Oh God, I’ve lost the pitch, I’m getting old
    [to accompanist] (A cue note please; do what you’re told)
    Oh my, my life’s gone by and where am I?
    I’ve — tried to relax
    Through yoga
    Through my Guru
    To rela-a-ax —
    But no, life presses in, won’t let go
    (My slip’s too long; does it show?)
    I know:
    “Don’t scoop for notes, but hit them square”
    (Good grief, I’m running out of air)
    Dear God, I’ve — tried hypnosis,
    Massage to rela-a-ax —
    But how? A critic’s here: I feel the chill
    (Lord, I need my Equanil)
    But still, the audience looks so elite
    And aren’t the boys up there just sweet!
    Ah ha, I noticed how they looked at me:
    An animal look, wild and free!
    Oh dear, this cold of mine, I’ve got to cough
    [suddenly remembering]
    I NEVER TURNED THE OVEN OFF! My cat!
    My cat is there, she fights for breath
    Her red eyes close awaiting death —
    Oh no! A thought like that can turn you
    Numb
    Strike you deaf and strike you dumb …
    [Singer is now unable to form words, but her clucks
    indicate what she has turned into]


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