Also: Poets of the World! If you are going to use Spanish words in your poems, for all that is holy, learn how to spell them. Por favor.
If the sexton
So, poems with swear words in them...what do you think about it? I've always avoided it, and I'm not entirely sure why...is it because they're the sign of a bankrupt mind -- if you can't come up with something more creative than "fuck," then why are you talking? But if you're trying to recreate the cadences and feel of spoken language, well, my speech is replete with them. It really doesn't shock me to hear the words; it only shocks me to read them. As though writing them down were worse. When I read, I turn into a total prude; I actually "tsk" over other people's swears.
Although maybe it really isn't the fact that they're written down that bothers me. I don't like hearing those words except from people I already know. Are swear words a form of intimacy...as though you and I both know we're being naughty, but we also know and accept each other, so instead of a blood oath, let us bond over this collection of obscene syllables!
I guess I could go back through the poem and change the words, but when I was writing it, I was really in a "shit" mood, not a "stuff" mood, and a "fucking" mood, not a "stupid" mood. Should I be true to that? I don't know. It's really such a toss-off poem, kind of like I Know a Man, but longer. I've been getting a lot of those lately.
When a journal says that it accepts simultaneous submissions, "if notified," when is that notification supposed to take place? When you submit the poem, when some other journal to which you've submitted the poem accepts it, or both?
It seems the middle option makes most sense, because, unless you've already decided to send "Poem X" to both journals Y & Z before submitting it, you might not know at the time of submission to journal Y that you, scarcely two weeks later, would say to yourself, "Oh, what the hell," and send it off to Z, too.
Advice? Can you tell that I'm painfully neurotic?
Charles Bernstein: With Strings
Bei Dao: At the Sky's Edge
Randall Jarrell: Selected Poems
Ann Lauterbach: On a Stair
Brad Leithauser: The Odd Last Thing She Did
James Merrill: Selected Poems
James Tate: Memoir of the Hawk
Stay tuned for a brief discussion of the "balancing of pleasures," a slight theory I came up with around four a.m. after perusing the two competing poems over at Craig Hill's Poetry Scorecard (see post below) and fussing around trying to match my own poems to suitable journals for submission.
Craig Hill's Poetry Scorecard has posted the first matchup in what's meant to be a contest of sorts between School of Quietude and Post-Avant poetry. I hate both those labels. The first is intentionally demeaning, if sometimes accurate, and the latter undefinably pretentious without the saving grace of being funny. If the Post-Avant were called "The Quiklions" or "Milkshakerites," or something, I could accept it. And then there's the poems. Poem one suffers not from quietude so much as laziness: it spells itself right out there for you; there's nothing for the reader to grasp. I like the second one better, great attention to sound, but it's light on meaning . . . a tone poem on time that serves mostly as a showcase for noises. Can't sense and aesthetics blend harmoniously?
Am I being mean? But, oh ho, I am mean. I eat tarantulas with tabasco sauce for breakfast and my hobby is to chew tenpenny nails into diabolical symbols and then spit them out onto highways where they pop tires. Mean.
But I digress. Schools. Movements. These kind of definitional tags are further annoying to me because of this new project of sending things off for publication. I don't know if I'm "post-avant" enough for any of the hip journals, or quiescent enough for the staid ones. I wish they had some service like the handwriting analysis they advertise in the back of Parade Magazine, wherein you send in a sample and in three weeks a letter comes back from some wacky savant who has peered into the secrets of your double-looped "O"s and so revealed your personality to you.
But why buy into that? Must I accept that, in order to write, you have to parcel yourself out into some pre-ordained box and concentrate on fulfilling your weenie little niche? I've got frigging rhyming poems about sea captains jostling with tongue-in-cheek discourses on Marrianne Moore's shopping habits and the exploits of a superhero cowgirl who may or may not be an allegorical representation of an abstract noun. And a rant against Huey Lewis and the News.
What label could I put on that?
Eh. Enough ranting from grumpy me. I just have to suck it up and go write cover letters. It makes me feel like Oliver petitioning for more gruel. "Please sir, would you accept this poem?"
Would you? I'll be your best friend. Aw, c'mon....*sigh*
Belying the statement in my last posts, from Thursday or so, that I was experiencing non-inspiration, I wrote five poems that day. This week I plan on matching poems up to publications and beginning the horrifying process of submitting things for publication. Ugh. So far it's just like applying for a job by cold letter, and I assume the entire process will correspond exactly, in that submitting will be much like applying for a job in that you just keep sending out letters until somebody caves.
Last night, I had a dream in which I went out to purchase Lisa Jarnot's Black Dog Songs. I suppose this means I should go buy the book. Mystical purchasing commands are coming down to me through the ceiling of my skull while I snooze, and who am I to deny them? Here's a poem from the book that's been making the rounds:
Indian Hot Wings
for George W. Bush
The chicken wing factory is lit up in flames
and the flames are the wings of the little hot chickens.
The little hot chickens are the lampshades of the night
glowing inside the burning of dawn.
The dawn light is chicken-light for little white chickens,
The chickens are white like the glowing of coal.
The coal light of chickens are the white light of chickens.
The chickens are burning and bright in the sun.
The sunlight and lampshades are brighter than chickens.
The dreams of the chickens are bright as the sun.
The chickens are filled with the hot coals of lampshades.
The chickens are burning, the chickens are done.
Nice, huh? Well, I'm off to go write nice little cover letters and decide whether poem X is arty enough for journal Y or snooty enough for journal Z. If you have advice for someone who who would honestly be torn between the choice of being stung by angry bees and going through the motions of submitting poetry, please leave it in the comments. In the meantime, perhaps you would enjoy this sex advice from the poets of PBQ. Don't you love the poets' little head shots? They all look so artistique. When I get a head shot, it's going to involve a pirate hat. Sometimes, you need to lighten up.