Friday, August 20, 2010

A Few Words, A Few Poets

In Then, Suddenly, Lynn Emanuel is "the writer/trying to unwrite the world” (from "Homage to Sharon Stone"). In a sense, she does just that in the title poem:

I erase a dog named Arf;
I erase four cowboys in bolas and yet in
the diminishing bustle of these streets I
nevertheless keep meeting People-I-Know.
I erase them.

Later, she “wind(s) rivers back on their spools, . . . unplug(s)/the bee from the socket of the honeysuckle” until the page is “as bare and smooth as a bowling alley.” However, it is lush imagery that makes Emanuel a pleasure to read, such as "the janitor pushes the big mustache of his broom across the floor" (from “Halfway Through the Book I’m Writing”) & "the voice of the dead man limping/down the long dark corridor of my throat" (from “Persona”).

When this book was first published in 1999, I really liked it. I still do.

There are times in Carolyn Forche's The Country Between in which the writing is lucid as in:

Tell them how his friends found
the soldiers and made them dig him up
and ask forgiveness of the corpse, once
it was assembled again on the ground
like a man. As for the cars, of course
they watch you and for this don’t flatter
yourself. We are all watched. We are
all assembled.

However, there is also this rambling sentence from “Ourselves or Nothing”:

I have come from our cacophonous
ordinary lives where I stood at the sink
last summer scrubbing mud from potatoes
and listening to the supper fish
in the skillet, my eyes on the narrowed
streets of rain through the window
as I thought of the long war
that misted country turned to the moon’s surface,
grey and ring-wormed with ridges of light.

All in all, though, a good read.

Of Jorie Graham's Swarm, I like the white space, of which there is a lot.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Emily Dickinson Post

As an Emily Dickinson impersonator (see photo, left), I’m often asked questions about the Woman in White, the Nun of Amherst, the Eccentric Recluse, the New England Mystic, or simply Daisy as she was known, not for her well-honed gardening skills, as is commonly held, but rather for her fanatical devotion to multi-pump pneumatic firearms, such as the popular Red Ryder model, featured in Dickinson’s beloved classic, A Christmas Carol, in which Ebenezer Scrooge learns the true meaning of Christmas after being pelted by a BB gun. Based on her childhood in Indiana, I guess.

A major misconception about Dickinson persists that she published only a handful of poems. Where such an egregious lie started, if not Fox News, is difficult to say. In truth, she’s published well over a thousand poems–hell, nearly two thousand! Seriously, you can find collections of her poetry almost anywhere, even at crappy bookstores like Books-A-Missing. Here’s a link in case you’re an idiot.

Though she never married, it wasn’t for lack of opportunity, but personal choice. In “A Narrow Fellow in the Grass,” Dickinson perhaps alludes to an ill-fated affair with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, his name, one may infer, a laughable misnomer.

Rumors of Reckless (for she was only ironically a recluse) Emily’s involvement with Nathaniel Hawthorne swirled like “butterflies, off banks of noon” at the House of Seven Gables, Nantucket’s oldest guest house, conveniently located within walking distance of beaches, tennis courts, restaurants & unique speciality shops. To this day, no one has thought to provide any serious discussion of the notion that Dickinson wasn’t the inspiration for Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter.

Some have speculated on Dickinson’s sexuality–as if it matters–construing her correspondences to her close friend, Sue Gilbert, as love letters & reading between the lines of a handful of poems. Personally, I have my doubts. If true, wouldn’t someone have posted a video of them on YouTube or whatever by now? However, in hopes of finding direct evidence, I’m currently conducting a far-reaching internet search, beginning with the broadest of terms for such a hot-button topic, “hot lesbians.”

After her death in 1863, Dickinson penned several of her most well-known works, including a couple of my personal favorites, “I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died” & “Because I Could Not Stop for Death.” In early versions of the former, she nails the fly with an air rifle–a remarkable shot–while in the latter, she pops Death with a pellet gun, dead in his tracks, if you’ll pardon the expression. She died again in 1886, but deteriorating health prevented her from writing much thereafter.

Well, that’s about it. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask, but for now, if you’ll excuse me, I must return to my research.