Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Most of the candidates for favorite Ed Barrett poem are too long to type here, including "The Living End," which is a brilliant inversion of Joe Brainard's I Remember (each strophe begins with "I forget..."). Or "Intimations of Immortality," which reads like some crazed awards show—here's a sample:
For Best Thing I Was Ever Told In The Morning: "You Were Laughing So Hard In Your Sleep You Woke Me Up," "No School Today, Ed, There's A Snowstorm," "Breakfast's Ready!"

For Best New Name For A Sexual Practice Among Consenting Adults: "The Cyclops Wears a Halo," "I'm Putting Out The Cat, Dear," "Fidel Castro"

For Best You Figure Out A Category: George Sanders' Brother In The Seventh Victim And Cat People (1953), Patrick Swayze's Brother I Once Saw On A Late Night Rerun of Geraldo, Sylvester Stallone's Brother Who Wrote The Music For Some Of The Rocky Movies
Other good too-long-for-the-blog poems; "A Vision of Ted Berrigan in Cambridge, Massachusetts"; "Letter in Latin to Bill in Vermont"; "Practical Lullabies for Joe" (you can see, again, how personal a poet Barrett is). I think I prefer the wit of his surreal narratives, but he can write a beautiful lyric too. Here's one:

In that clear way

we go for a walk at night
and the dark takes in the last part
like a true dome, which refers
just as much to what it excludes.
In a forest you belong to
one tree then another.

The recent past was only
parallel. The unique event
shining in the silver cup
of the inner ear is preserved
by the semi-precious amber
of characteristic gesture
and account,

cutouts for the season in line
with the next one
like a school play.

But we enjoy the helpless parts.
The day is all around
like parachute silk and
Greek tragedy:
we go poking on ahead
or driving hard at the clear point,
nipple and twining cord
above the sword grass.
I have always wanted this light

and to become visible in a new way for you,
adequate or inadequate to consolation,
to the secret's in the surface part of things,
thumb and forefinger pressing lightly together
the trajectory in an open
scene for milk and the elements of milk.
Incidentally, it has not escaped my notice that all of the poets mentioned in my previous post are men. Not sure what this means except perhaps that I don't have as strong a sense of the geographical affiliations of the younger female poets I most admire, and those I do don't necessarily fit into my half-assed schema. Are West Coasters Catherine Meng and Stephanie Young apocalyptic transcendentalists? Are New Yorkers Marcella Durand and Corina Copp intimate immanent-ers? Perhaps I should let this latest dichotomy with which to divide poetryland die, yet it's hard to resist the fascination of the category. You can't cross lines if you don't draw some first.

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