Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Self-Portrait in a Prospect of Photos

Here I am as a moody teen, silhouetted against the picture window at my parents' house. No doubt The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens, my favorite poet in high school, lies at my feet, page marked by a worn paperback edition of 100 Selected Poems by E. E. Cummings. As for my poetry in those days, I wrote much in the style of Richard Brautigan. If you'd think you'd like to read some of my early pieces, you're horribly mistaken. I remember one titled "Penetration." Guess what it was about! Guess!

The Hat, my nickname in college, sits at the campus coffee house, smoking Gauloises & propounding preposterous prosodic theories with aspiring others. I'd memorized "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," so it's altogether possible I'm taking a quick puff while reciting "Prufrock" as Boris Karloff, which I often did--or, if I found my voice, as Bob Newhart, which difficult to sustain, usually only lasted through maybe the start of the third stanza, by which time everyone had quit listening anyway.

Ah, yes! It is I, Pompadour Dali, the self-deprecating alias I sometimes used when, having left Clonus II, I played guitar & sang, neither particularly well, but I knew lots of songs, so I had that going for me. See those eyes--obviously I'd hit the bar chords a little hard of late! I can't explain the sweater. Who can explain sweaters? More to the point, what does this have to do with poetry? If you look over the cover of Nearing Narcoma, you may notice that the utility poles along the roadside resemble guitar necks. The connection to the past--a book plug!

The emerging poet, having composed "Aspects of Dagwood," a parody of Weldon Kees' "Aspects of Robinson," completes his master's at the University of Southern Mississippi's Center for Writers.

Coincidentally, Weldon Kees & I both have the same number of letters in our names (10); he has 6 in his first, 4 in his last; for me, as perhaps befits the parodist, it's vice versa--4 in my first, 6 in my last.

Moreover, if you spell Weldon Kees backward, it reads, "Seek Nodlew." I didn't think of this tidbit at the time I wrote "Dagwood," but would you find it interesting, perhaps slightly eerie, if I told you my middle name is Nodlew? For the sake of this post, let's assume that's true.

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