Saturday, April 15, 2006

Richards and Grumman - a standoff

Poet Bob Grumman, who is more than a little strange but whose essay on Mnmlst Poetry (which does not include "f u cn rd ths u cn gt a gd jb") is one of the most fascinating reads on the Internet, recently informed the NewPo list of a site called Googlefight , where you can pit two names or words or phrases against each other to see who gets the most Google hits. He had tried himself against Master Poetry Blogger Ron Silliman , and found to his surprise that after being thoroughly trounced by Silliman, he had come back and beaten him a few days later.

Bob's theory:

Chris Lott said something good about me, which in less than a day multiplied my Internet popularity by 9! I just went up against William Shakespeare. I forget what he scored, but the graph comparing his total to mine was so large, to get the proportions right in the small space allotted, mine was barely visible--but it represented the same 548,000 I got against Silliman. Now if the Mole says something good about me, I may catch up with the Bard!
Well, I didn't want to say anything too good about Bob, because I lost to him 548,000 to 484,000, and while this may not put him ahead of the Bard, it'll probably soar him way, way past me.

Here are a few others I tried:

T. S. Eliot -- 38 million Tad Richards 484,000
Marvin Bell -- 6 million Tad Richards 484,000 (of course, this may include Marvin Bell the standup comic, but then again it may also include Tad Richards the champion bass fisherman, although I think he may be in semi-retirement, since you don't see too many hits on him any more.

But here's one I liked

Tad Richards -- 484,000 Jorie Graham -- 200,000

Thursday, April 13, 2006

In Perhaps the Oxymoron of All Time...

Happy Samuel Beckett's 100th birthday.

And in tribute, this section from Situations:

A country road. A tree. It’s evening. Bob
Sits on a hillside, taking off his shoes,
Trying to tell himself he’s done his job,
Fulfilled his destiny, and paid his dues,

But nothing satisfies. Only the imprint
Of Carlene’s lips. Only her eyes that glowed
Beyond desire, pure as an infant,
Sans peur et sans reproche, her heart bestowed

For just an instant on him, and her grace.
What has he done? How long has he been walking?
Did they beat him again? What is this place?
Someone is drawing near; it’s Stephen Hawking.

“Since sudden fame has come to Mary Jo,”
Hawking says, “mine is the fate of chicks.
I wait at home, while she’s the new Perot
Generalissima, Grand Inquisitrix.”

“She’s the Inquisitrix?” says Bob. “I must
Plead with her for my darling’s life, or sorrow
Will dog my footsteps. Will she come here?” “Just
Wait,” says Hawking. “Soon.Or else tomorrow.”

“My misdeeds,” Bob says, “have too long a shelf
Life upon my conscience. On reflection,
I think my best course is to hang myself.”
Says Hawking, “It might give you an erection.”

“Don’t let’s do anything,” says Bob. “It’s safer.”
“Let’s wait and sey what she says.” “Even so,
There must be something we came all this way for.
What do we do?” “We wait for Mary Jo.”

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Page

This is as good a site as I've seen for a roundup of poetry on the net. It's called The Page, and you can find it at

Down the center, it has links to recent articles about poetry, with one-sentence quotes from the article, sort of like Arts and Letters Daily but focused on poetry. Here are the ones at the top today:

"There was Creeley the bohemian and the dyed-in-the-wool Yankee, the approachable and the avant-garde, the laconic writer and the blue-streak talker, the gentle pigeon-raiser and the high-strung Young Turk." D. H. Tracy • The New York Times
"Why has our age become so enamored of a poet who almost to the end of her life required a special taste?" William Logan on Elizabeth Bishop • The New Criterion
"I thought it was okay for poems in some crucial way to be part of the world of everyday entertainment, and that it would do the academy no great harm to acknowledge this." Bill Manhire talks to Nick Twemlow • Poets And Writers
"In the beginning you write for the high of finishing it, of getting through. Now the reward is feeling that you're on the right track and can work at it." Seamus Heaney talks to Sam Leith • The Daily Telegraph
"Down with the poetry cheerleaders, I say! Readers don’t need to be talked down to." Michael Schmidt • The StAnza lecture 2006

I referenced the Michael Schmidt piece yesterday, in the process getting the name of the festival wrong -- it's not St. Anza, it's StAnza, with a capital "A" in the middle.

Over on the left, also like A&L Daily but po-specific, a list of links to poetry-relevant sites. An excellent list.

And on the right -- and this is a little different -- Links to "New Poems" that can be found on the web, referenced by author and publication.

John Ashbery The Paris Review

Gregory O'Brien Best New Zealand Poems

Robert Hass American Poetry Review

Sarah Rosenthal Boston Review

Eavan Boland The New Republic

This is a good one to have on your favorites list -- you could do worse than having it as your home page.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Is She Really This Small?

From Michael Schmidt, author of one of my favorite books, Lives of the Poets, in a lecture at St. Anza, Scotland's Poetry Festival:

The other anecdote puts Picasso in the frame with an American GI at the end of the Second World War. The soldier says he dislikes Picasso’s kind of art with its distortions and stylisations and dislocations. ‘What sort of art do you like?’ asked Picasso. The GI pulled out a photograph of his girlfriend and presented it to the artist, who gazed at it and asked, ‘Is she really this small?’ It is about the conventions we are prepared to accept, about conventions so ingrained that we do not recognise them as such; it is about becoming conscious of them, of what is conventional, and understanding why, and what that convention includes and excludes.

A few new things

Posted on the art page of my website.

Here are a couple:

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Tragic Polka


First you kill your father, then you off the king
Doing the tragic polka
Then your mistress checks out while she’s wearing your ring
Doing the tragic polka
Watch your lover sinking in a bottomless descent
He’s robbed and cheated for you but the money’s all been spent
He’s sacrificed his honor and disgraced his regiment
Doing the tragic polka

Step it when you find out that you’re married to your mother
Doing the tragic polka
Twirl it while they tell you that you can’t inter your brother
Doing the tragic polka
Your son has snatched your wife away and laid her in the shade
You could have won the duel except for poison on the blade
Your husband is a loser but attention must be paid
Doing the tragic polka