Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Maybe it's a side effect of wedded bliss, but I just can't get exercised over the annual Best American Poetry controversy, which this year is being ably conducted by Seth and Jordan and others. Partly this is because I'm over my desire to use Billy Collins as a punching bag: I happen to believe that he is afflicted by a species of self-loathing that infects his sense of poetry in general (thus radically scaling back its aesthetic ambitions and possibilities), but he is hardly the only poet so inclined. As for the bestness of the BAP, I think it does a better job of advertising its subjective intentions than does, say, the Norton, or other institutionally produced anthologies that purpose to give you an unadulterated slice of the canon. I wouldn't mind landing a poem in there sometime, provided I had esteem for the editor who'd done the choosing, but if it never happens I won't pout about it. I would rather put my energies into things like SOON—with all the wedding and honeymoon business, I've completely neglected to mention our most recent reading, which happened on Saturday the 23rd right after Emily and I got back from Canada. Pelin Ariner performed a sequence called "The Weekly Show," which invariably reminded me of both this and that. Her guests? Somebody and Nobody. Then it was a thrill to have Evelyn Reilly read. Evelyn is a fellow Barrow Streeter and I highly recommend her fierce, playful book Hiatus (scroll down to find it), which takes cues from Stein and Stevens, has a critical-feminist edge, and is precisely askance in its music. It's a highly various book in style and subject, moving felicitously between prose and verse, page-as-field and compression of the line. Here's one of my favorites, and not only because I just got married or because I once had a dog named Elsie:
"Elsie, Voluptuous Water"

Ask. Ask Elsie. "What is water?"

"Spousal love." That's Gerard

who says. Who? What? "Or

spiritual matters." "Some Harold

you'll marry. Some Harold." Who?

Ask. "To our door of proposed."

What? "Water." "Of voluptuous.

Of marriage." Whose? This tender.

Tender of spousal. "Who?" she says,

"Who will take care of you?"

Mother of ask. "Perhaps." This.

Ask. "What is spiritual?"

Sexual water. "Spiritual what?"

Flesh. How? A question.

"Who questions?" "Who questions

the door?" Espoused, so what

is proposed? "Flesh." Of who?

What? "Ask Elsie." Bringing water.

Where? "To the door." Of proposed.

To the floor of espoused. "Of what?"

What. Ask. Of what What? Ask.
Evelyn read newer work, including pieces from her new chapbook, Fervent Remnants of Reflective Surfaces, out now from Brend Iijima's Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs (you can read one sequence from the book, "Reverse Landscapes," here). My favorite piece that she read is a new longish poem called "Broken Water," which I hope will see print soon: an ecstatic and mournful ecopoetic meditation. I feel a strong affinity with her work and I'd like to spend more time with it—but time feels in short supply just now.

No comments:

Popular Posts