Friday, September 25, 2009

Daniel Nester thinks poets are ridiculous

Recovering poet (or reformed poet? Ex-poet?) Daniel Nester hates New York so therefore he hates America. Except he also hates poetry, which evens things out. Actually, I don't think it's fair to say that he hates either New York or poetry. It is, however, very fair to say that Nester is a dude with a finely honed bullshit detector and he doesn't like it one bit. Bullshit, that is. The whole detecting thing seems to be working out quite well for him. The whole New York poet thing, not so much.

As he writes in his essay "Goodbye to All Them" for The Morning News:
"I remember some night when I am eating a Mexican dinner in the company of a Famous Eastern European Poet. As we celebrate his reading, a member of our party starts to choke on her food. We laugh at first, but her situation escalates. Emergency medical technicians come in, stick a tube stuck down her throat. She is taken away in an ambulance. And all the while, Famous Eastern European Poet continues to eat his meal and speak with other famous poets. They glance back twice. The only explanation for why this Poet did not react to the woman choking on a bony burrito was it was messing up one of his few nights in Manhattan. I have no explanation, however, for Poets A and B sitting next to him, who continued their conversation on European literary festivals and the pros and cons of living in Iowa."
Reading this I can't help but wonder whether/suspect that I know folks like this.

So, okay, poets can be assholes. Whatever, etc. That's not the point. Or maybe it is, but I'm moving on.

It turns out I have two of Nester's poems in my collection. "Poem for the Novelist Whom I Forced to Write a Poem" appears in the 2003 Best American collection. "Third Maisie Poem" is in Isn't It Romantic: 100 Love Poems by Younger American Poets (I sense a theme here. Perhaps all of his poems have "poem" in the title and all are published in anthologies with American in the title. But probably not). I like both poems very much. Then again, it seems like Nester's poems have a lot in common with mine. Which explains, I think, Nester's disillusion with poetry. Or the poetry world. Or both. I think Nester and I would get along. Maybe his poems and my poems can get married. Or at least be friends with benefits. (For those of you thinking, "But, D'Anne, you're not into dudes," let me remind you that poetry knows no gender and the love of poetry is a love that dare not speak its name.)

I just bought his book of poems, The History of My World Tonight, online. Looking forward to getting it in the mail. It's been awhile since I had a book of poems I actually looked forward to reading.

Via The Awl. Thanks, Laura for the tip.

It would take more than a chimp to save Glenn Beck

The only thing that could make Morning Zoo FM radio shows worse is Glenn Beck.

Via Animal.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sexy gorillas

Gorilla mating habits may "help explain how humans evolved into a mostly monogamous species."

Pro-sex Darwinists: 1
Anti-sex creationists: 0

Thanks, Laura, for the tip.

Monday, September 21, 2009

From a monkey's fingers to your teacup

Have you ever been sipping a cup of tea and thinking to yourself, "This tea is okay, but it would be so much better if it'd been picked by monkeys" (because of how you like to have monkeys touch all of your food, which is your business, not mine). Well, meet Monkey Picked Tea. That's right. Tea picked by specially trained monkeys in China.

Now all you need is some hot water (and about $20) and your life is complete. You're welcome.


Thanks, Zev, for the tip.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Don't let that monkey grab your balls

Former House Republican whip Roy Blunt (who is running for Senate next year in Missouri) whips out a monkey related parable to illustrate the difficulty he and other Republicans are facing with President Obama in the House. Once again, racism ruins monkeys for everybody.

Thanks, Laura, for the tip.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thank you, Sharing Machine!

I sent ten bucks to the Sharing Machine to take advantage of their mystery t-shirt offer (sorry, don't know that it's still going on). Lo and behold, my shirt arrived today and it's an orange Bad Poetry shirt from the Toothpaste For Dinner collection. I must say, this whole thing worked out very well for me. Much better than my actual poetry has been. Thanks, Sharing Machine!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Covered in comics

You've heard of cover songs, now see some covered comics. Covered features new comic artists recreating comic covers from old school artists, including Katie Green's cover of a 1954 issue of "Mystery In Space." It's pretty awesome, I must say.

Thanks, Laura, for the tip.

Fried on Wright

Daisy Fried reviews Wheeling Motel, Franz Wright's new book of poetry, in the New York Times.

She writes, "Franz Wright is uningratiating, bumptiously witty, inexhaustibly joyless and routinely surprising. Individual moments — this line break, that bit of syntax — fascinate even when individual poems fail to assert themselves as memorable. But Wright’s dark epiphanies, surging sincerities and ironic outbursts build incrementally from poem to poem."

The title poem appeared in The New Yorker in 2007.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A closer look at a terrible 9/11 poem

Remember when I said there was a lot of terrible 9/11 poetry out there?

Wonkette does a masterful close reading of "Honoring September 11th: We Remember" by Chele Stanton, a poem posted to Andrew Breitbart’s conservative Big Hollywood blog on, of course, Sept. 11. Why Stanton wanted to associate her name and photo with the poem is unclear. But some people have no shame. Or talent.

Explains Wonkette:
"Note the descent into chaos here: the rhyme scheme starts as A B C B (this is like the World Trade Center at 7:00 a.m., structured, professional, 'nothin’ to see here,' etc.); takes a turn several stanzas down into A B C kinda-B (After the first tower gets hit, things starting to unravel, 'looks like some pilot’s been drinkin’, ain’t that right, Brad?'); then finally devolves into prosaic stream-of-consciousness anger-porn (Both towers hit, hysteria, 'Whoa hey shit man, that’s twice now, right?'). This is not an accident."

Thanks, Laura, for the tip.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

"Poet and Punk Rocker" Jim Carroll

is dead.

Is now the wrong time to say The Basketball Diaries was one of the worst books I've ever read and that the movie managed to be even worse?

Yes, yes it is. But I was a teenager when I read it. Surely I'd have more patience for it now (I would not have more patience for it now), and in this time of sadness I don't want to begrudge the work of Leonardo DiCaprio.

Seriously, though, I am sure he was an important and respected poet because the New York Times said as much or at least they put that he was a "Poet and Punk Rocker" in his obit headline. And they do not do that for everybody.

In any case, he is dead. So have some respect, people.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Biden's 9/11 poetry recitation

Speaking of poetry and 9/11, Joe Biden read Mary Oliver's poem "Wild Geese" at the eighth anniversary commemoration of the 9/11 attacks at Ground Zero. A most excellent choice, I think.
Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

(Mary Oliver, from Dream Work, 1986 Atlantic Monthly Press)

There are a lot of 9/11 poems in the world

And a lot of them are bad. So I am sparing you by posting Dorianne's "Cello" instead.


When a dead tree falls in a forest
it often falls into the arms
of a living tree. The dead,
thus embraced, rasp in wind,
slowly carving a niche
in the living branch, shearing away
the rough outer flesh, revealing
the pinkish, yellowish, feverish
inner bark. For years
the dead tree rubs its fallen body
against the living, building
its dead music, making its raw mark,
wearing the tough bough down
as it moans and bends, the deep
rosined bow sound of the living
shouldering the dead.

(Dorianne Laux, from Facts About the Moon, 2007 WW Norton)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Go speed monkey, go

Who is that monkey-masked man behind the wheel speeding through photo radar cameras in Arizona? Only David VonTesmar knows for sure. Maybe.

Via Slog. Thanks, Laura, for the tip.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Detroit poet Vievee Francis gets 2009 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award

Congrats to Vievee Francis for receiving a 2009 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award. Vie and the five other recipients will get $25,000 Sept. 24 at a reception in New York. Sweet.

I had the pleasure of working with Vie at the University of Michigan as we both persued our MFAs. Vie is awesome, plain and simple. This award is much deserved.

Here's Vie's bio from the Rona Jaffe Foundation site:
Vievee Francis lives in Detroit, Michigan, where for 15 years she has been instrumental in fostering a literary community for youth and young-adult poets. She received her B.A. from Fisk University and will receive her M.F.A. from the University of Michigan in 2009, where she is the Alice Lloyd Hall Scholars Program Poet-in-Residence. Her first collection of poems, Blue-Tail Fly (Wayne State University Press, 2006), is described by her nominator as a "remarkably compassionate and clear-eyed debut that is a masterly poetic sequence rooted in mid-19th-century American voices and history. It is confident and utterly compelling." Her poems have also appeared in Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review, Rattle, and in the forthcoming Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poets. She was a Cave Canem Fellow in 2005 and 2007. Next year, with the help of her Rona Jaffe Award, she will complete the research for her new collection of poems on the Wendish region of Texas, where her family has lived since the 1800s when the slave holding region was settled by German immigrants seeking religious freedom.

If you don't already own Blue-Tail Fly you are doing yourself a disservice.

Monday, September 7, 2009

What does Thomas Pynchon have to do with poetry and monkeys?

Two installments of the web comic Cat and Girl by Dorothy Gambrell. One mentions monkeys, one mentions poetry. Both reference Thomas Pynchon.

For good measure, here's another that mentions monkeys.

Olden days writers in comic form

Hark! A Vagrant: comics featuring olden days people by Kate Beaton.

This one, titled "Mary Shelley Quite Contrary," features olden days writers and poets Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Mary Shelley:

Here's one that features Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas:

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Steps to being a monkey

From a Jan. 29, 2009 post on
Steps to be a monkey:
1) Pick something that you do in private
2) Do it in public
3) Be covered in hair

Got it?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Economic gorilla

There's a most excellent piece by Paul Krugman about the current state of economics in the New York Times Magazine. Accompanying it is an illustration of a gorilla by Jason Lutes. Read it. Try not to weep.

Passive aggressive verse

My sister sent me a link to a blog called Passive Aggressive Notes which, as the name implies, collects those little missives, often left anonymously, that urge the reader to corrective action. You know, like the sheet of copy paper taped above the sink in the office kitchen with "Your mother doesn't work here. Clean up after yourself" printed on it. Only these are much better.

One of my favorites is a limerick about hair left in the drain.

There are also a couple of deeply horrifying "poems" about bathroom issues and some verse about Twizzlers in the vending machine or, more specifically, Twizzlers not in the vending machine.

People in the poetry world are often complaining that poetry doesn't do anything any more; that it lacks political and social impact. Well, the verse on Passive Aggressive Notes proves otherwise. Kind of.

Maybe the bakery should hire a fully trained monkey

On Thursday Cake Wrecks railed against Decopac's instant cake decorating kits.

"Cute, huh? As you can see, plastic is SO in right now. Not only does it save on frosting, but it also allows anyone with the skills of a semi-trained monkey to "decorate" a cake. It's foolproof! All you need is a rounded lump frosted brown, and you're good to go - just stick the plastic bits in! Who could possibly mess that up?"

Well, see for yourself. The site isn't called Cake Wrecks for nothing.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Novel poetry

A novel about poetry?


He likes to pick out his own puffy paint and fuzzy felt

A new blog, aptly named People of Wal-Mart, records and ridicules Wal-Mart shoppers. I don't shop there if I can help it, but every time I've been there I have to admit I've seen a lot of folks who look like the ones on this site.

Granted, I haven't ever seen someone with a pet monkey strolling through the craft aisle.

The more People of Wal-Mart pictures you look at, the more this one make a whole lot of sense.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The ape behind Lolita

Behind every great novel is a monkey of some sort. Okay, maybe not. But there is behind Lolita, which I just finished reading last night.

The novel has many references to monkeys (Humbert refers to Lolita more than once in monkey terms) and poetry (references to well known works as well as Humbert's own verse).

But the best part of Lolita, in my opinion, was Nabokov's afterward, in which he reveals his inspiration for the novel:
"The first little throb of Lolita went through me late in 1939 or early in 1940, in Paris, at a time when I was laid up with a severe attack of intercostal neuralgia. As far as I can recall, the initial shiver of inspiration was somehow prompted by a newspaper story about an ape in the Jardin des Plantes, who, after months of coaxing by a scientist, produced the first drawing ever charcoaled by an animal: this sketch showed the bars of the poor creature's cage. The impulse I record had no textual connection with the ensuing train of thought, which resulted, however, in a prototype of my present novel..."
Inspiration is, after all, a strange animal.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Put on your Monkey Goggles

Are you all, "OMG, I just don't have enough to read and would especially like to read essays about really random and weird shit?"

Then put on your Monkey Goggles, my friend.

Monkey Goggles is a new blog by the fine folks at Archie McPhee, purveyors of all things (and by "all things" I mean mostly junk that you absolutely need/want for no reason at all).

It makes good sense to start with an essay about a man dressed as an ape delivering balloons and singing. You know, an essay about your life.

Via Slog. Thank you, Laura, for the tip.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Don't tread on me (wherein "tread" means "pee")

What do I have in common with the Zambia's President Rupiah Banda? We were both peed on by monkeys. Or, more accurately, I was almost peed on, while he was definitely peed on. Also, I did not retaliate.

Via AmericaBlog. Thanks, Laura, for the tip.