Fri 5 Aug 2005
I’ve had my own blog before, on Xanga. Brings up some bad memories. When Professor Beaudry talks about being careful what you write on these things, she means it.
I’d like to say my favorite poet is a modern one, a poet who publishes aggressively and creates new aspects on life in the 00s…but I can’t. I don’t know any. Sifting through anthologies of modern poetry in the B&N, I realize that I don’t understand some of these poems. The structure is so abstract that they are actually inscrutible. Dadaism (Curse you, Getrude Stein!) has made this quest doubly difficult. And the anthology of socialist poetry (which I thought might spark my interest) turned out to not only be deeply British, but also bad. And thus the search for my own personal modern poet laureate came to an abrupt halt.
I explained this assignment to my father, who mentioned, “Why not look up some Maya Angelou? She’s Georgia’s poet laureate.” I am not a big fan of Maya Angelou, nor of my home state of Georgia.
But I will not be daunted. I will find my own poet Gardner, Palahniuk, or Ellis.
Poetry is a funny thing; it’s entirely fluid. It has no rules of style, grammar, or structure. You can have a Shakespearean love sonnet:
O how much more doth beauty beauteous seem,
By that sweet ornament which truth doth give!
The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem
For that sweet odour, which doth in it live:
The canker blooms have full as deep a dye,
As the perfumed tincture of the roses,
Hang on such thorns, and play as wantonly,
When summer’s breath their masked buds discloses:
But for their virtue only is their show,
They live unwooed, and unrespected fade,
Die to themselves. Sweet roses do not so,
Of their sweet deaths, are sweetest odours made:
And so of you, beauteous and lovely youth,
When that shall vade, by verse distills your truth.
Or a more modern poem, The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams:
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
Wherein lies the problem of me finding a poet that is both modern enough to appeal to my progressive sensibilities yet writes poetry within certain rules and limits of grammar to be understandable. I am limited by my un-literary and burdensome mind.
I spoke to my uncle, who works at Emory University, about this subject. He said, “There are two camps of American poetry. There’s Walt Whitman: long, detailed, epic. There is Emily Dickinson: short, simple. Most American poets fall within those two groups.”
True, but if you consider something like Ginsburg’s Howl or T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland, most of the seminal poetry of the Western world has been associated with the former, the epic poem. As we read and write, we keep the Greeks in our back pockets too much. Besides, I’m not too much of a fan of the female Dickinson.
I keep coming back to T.S. Elliot in my mind, especially the first line of The Wasteland…
It’s Latin and Greek. It reads something like, “With my own eyes I saw the Sybil of Cumae hanging in a bottle; and when the boys said to her: ‘Sybil, what do you want?’ she replied, ‘I want to die’”. This refers to a legend of a prophet named Sybil who was gifted/cursed with immortality.
That line always hits me hard.
I need not explain the significance of The Wasteland, but his other poetry is also steeped with cultural significance. His criticism of modern culture runs heavy and deep. But I cannot continue without taking an issue with his anti-Semitism. Can I truly approve of a poet who can think such things?
In the end I cannot.
I really, really like Neruda. His poems are always lyrical.
My favorite poet (for the next twenty minutes, at least) is a Vietnamese-American poet named Linh Dinh. I found his poem 13 in The Best American Poetry 2004. It read like the postmodern, globalized, soulless literature that I love.
Google him. You can read some of his work. It’s so…transgressional. It hates itself. Like the Patrick Batemans, the Tyler Durdens, or the Grendels of this world.
I can’t give you an example of 13, because I don’t have the book. But his other work…
Go Boo Hoo Hoo
“You’re a rich little white girl.
People don’t give a damn
About you. They only care about
The poor people, the minorities,
Those less fortunate. Go boo hoo hoo
To Daddy and buy some diamonds.
I’m sure you’ll wake up tomorrow
And feel like the million bucks
That’s stuck up your ass.”
Why You Should Get To Know Me
I could easily spend the rest of my life
In Disneyland, given the chance. I also crave
Roller coasters–the wilder the better,
And I can’t seem to get enough of
Six Flags Magic Mountain.
As a hobby, I write and perform
New Age type music (on the computer),
And I also enjoy writing comedic screenplays.
I’m also HIV/STD.
(This is Sam writing now…) Baudrillard wrote, “Disneyland is a perfect model of all the entangled orders of simulcra…what attracts the crowds the most is without a doubt the social microcosm, the religious, miniaturized pleasure of real America, of its constraints and joys…Disneyland is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real, whereas all of Los Angeles and the America that surrounds it are no longer real…” (Simulcra and Simulation, italics his/the translator’s). Postmodernism in its utilitarian and morally vapid forms is very appropriate for these poems.
The nonlinear quality of his poems draw references to the fading attention span.
The senseless violence of his poems…well, they are part of that senseless violence that our culture adores.
In one stanza in 13, an employer wants an employee to buy a new shirt. The employee is indignant because A.) getting a new shirt would be an assumption that he would live for two more years and B.) the new shirt against his old, dying skin and cells would be a terrible contrast.
Who would write like that? Who would think of something so violently crazy? That buying a new shirt was an intolerable assumption?
“On a long enough timeline, everyone’s survival rate drops to zero,” Tyler Durden, Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk.
Linh Dinh is my favorite poet.