Literarisches Events (in and around Lawrence KS)

  • PATRICIA LOCKWOOD. Lawrence. Thursday, September 11, 7:00 p.m., Spooner Hall, KU Campus.
  • PATRICIA LOCKWOOD. Lawrence. Friday, September 19, 7:00 p.m. Lawrence Public Library. Sponsored by Raven Bookstore.
  • DENNIS ETZEL, JR. & RACHEL CROSS. Lawrence. Thursday, September 25, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.
  • TONY TRIGILIO. Lawrence. Thursday, Oct. 2, 4:00 p.m., English Room, Kansas Union, KU Campus. FREE.
  • CALEB PUCKETT & JUSTIN RUNGE. Lawrence. Thursday, October 16, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.
  • BEN LERNER. Kansas City, MO. Thursday, October 23, 7:00 p.m., Epperson Auditorium, Vanderslice Hall on the KCAI campus, 4415 Warwick Blvd.
  • KRISTIN LOCKRIDGE & ROBERT DAY. Lawrence. Thursday, December 4, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Fallout from _ISSUE ONE_

Remember a few months ago, how everyone was talking about that faux PDF zine that contained several thousand randomly-generated poems attributed to people who didn't write them? Like you?

Well, I've decided we ought to make lemons out of lemonade. So - if you were one of the "victims," please contribute to VERZION TWO.

This is for real. Honest. Try it out!

Xmas? Bah, Xbox! Loden's _Hotel Imperium_? Three apposable thumbs up!

"When you spoke of the utility of suffering, I knew it was because you heard your death up on the roof like Santa's sleigh and now you wanted me to give it to you as a present."

Thus begins Rachel Loden's prose poem "Carnal Acknowledgments," from her book Hotel Imperium (U of Georgia P, 1999). I'm ashamed to say I haven't read these poems in this collected form until now, but glad I did. Makes me look forward to the next installment, Dick of the Dead (!), forthcoming from Ahsahta. Many of the poems are indeed Nixonesque, e.g., "Bride of Tricky D.," which begins with a news item about the dog Checkers being reinterred near his former owner, and ends thusly:

" . . . 'Let's
slip the Constitution, Richard,

cut red ribbon on the virgin
century. Teach me tonight . . . .' I find

his fierce beard lovely and the shadows
long. Asleep with Pat & Checkers

by his side
. . . 'We could do it,'
he'll say, 'but it would be wrong.'"

Checkers. You know, as in the Checkers Speech? Illegal campaign contributions? Red scare? Well, kids, once upon a time, there was this thing called Watergate . . . Actually, many of the poems do come with endnotes, but this one doesn't. The quote at the end, of course, is what Nixon's former Chief of Staff, H.R. Haldeman, tells the Senate Select Committee investigating the Watergate break-in that he (Nixon) said after agreeing to pay hush money to the burglars, now in prison, but that he never really said. Got it?

Anyway, I like these poems b/c they are a kind of shadow image or muscle memory of politics and pop culture of mid-20th c.-America, and since I already feel like an embalmed relic of that era, I like reading them. Indeed, a lot of these poems seem to be spoken from beyond the grave, or from the political unconscious (a fine distinction, nowadays). I dig the combination of gravitas and wackiness in tone - & elegance and total surprise, in terms of form. The tone and form of some poems reminds me a little of the poetry of the era they're about, but the content has a lot more in common with Peter Gizzi than Randal Jarrell. Or Underworld in verse. Only shorter.