Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Crazy props for Laurie Capps

Congrats to the lovely and talented Laurie Capps for being a finalist in the Crazyhorse Lynda Hull Memorial Poetry Prize contest. The judge this year was none other than James Tate and it was none other than Laurie Capps who introduced me to Tate's work while she and I were browsing at a used bookstore in North Carolina oh so many years ago. Coincidence? Yes, probably. But I feel compelled to point it out.

This James Tate poem seems fitting for the occasion, not only because it's a poem about poetry (a kind of poem I usually hate), but also because Laurie Capps also weeps iced tea.
Poem to Some of My Recent Poems

My beloved little billiard balls,
my polite mongrels, edible patriotic plums,
you owe your beauty to your mother, who
resembled a cyclindrical corned beef
with all the trimmings, may God rest
her forsaken soul, for it is all of us
she forsook; and I shall never forget
her sputtering embers, and then the little mound.
Yes, my little rum runners, she had defective
tear ducts and could weep only iced tea.
She had petticoats beneath her eyelids.
And in her last years she found ball bearings
in her beehive puddings, she swore allegiance
to Abyssinia. What should I have done?
I played the piano and scrambled eggs.
I had to navigate carefully around her brain’s
avalanche lest even a decent finale be forfeited.
And her beauty still evermore. You see,
as she was dying, I led each of you to her side,
one by one she scorched you with her radiance.
And she is ever with us in our acetylene leisure.
But you are beautiful, and I, a slave to a heap of cinders.

(James Tate, from Selected Poems, 1991 Wesleyan University Press.

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