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.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Two Types of Political Poetry

. . . both from Barbara Jane Reyes, from her fascinating book Poeta en San Francisco (Tinfish).

This, from page 74:

Queen of fallen angels, pray for us.
Queen of patriarchs, pray for us.
Queen of dictators, pray for us.
Queen of race riots, pray for us.
Queen of heathens' torched flesh, pray for us.

Et cetera. Then, on the facing page, the poem "calles de los dolores y trastorno de tensión postraumática":

your methods are unacceptable :: beyond human restraint :: things get confused i know :: the heart's a white sepulcher and no man guards its doors :: against the growing dark :: incessant blades beat air :: incessant blades :: what means are available to terminate :: gook names :: with extreme prejudice :: you may use those :: blades beat :: easier than learning their gook names :: your boys don't know any better than :: gook names . . .

and it ends with "blades beat :: dead men hanging :: gook names :: no sin committeed :: no dead men :: to forgive."

The first poem is what I'd call a declamatory poem, both in the form (ironical litany, end-stopped lines) and content. But the second poem is more interesting to me, b/c it in effect gets inside the head of a veteran (of Vietnam? Korea? even Iraq?) with PTSD -- not to exculpate him, but to see what makes him tick -- and at the same time, comments upon that project. The "tick" of the "::" as a pacing device cuts off thoughts mid-stream - which often obsessively come back. Anyway, that was the one that grabbed me, of these two. Maybe that's my "modernist" training -- I gravitate to the dramatic monologue, the innovative form, the psychological and temporal subjectivity, the showing not telling. Would probably be different, were I Pilipina(American).

In any event, the book contains more of the latter type of poem than the former. Tho Reyes does make some very good use of litany - in English, Spanish, and Tagalog - as she shuttles between the Mission District of SFCA (her home town) and Manila (her birthplace). And the whole creates a quasi-narrative (a recurrent one, in the examples above) that is more than the sum of its parts. It expanded my attention span - wanted to read it - unlike this post . . .