Mary’s cri du coeur prompted some scattershreds of thoughts I might expand on later, but for now, here’s the raw gleaning:
Recent poems by other people that I keep revisiting: Steve Kistulentz’s “Fuck Poem with Language from the Gospel of Mark”; Martha Silano’s “My Place in the Universe”
An older favorite that stole my breath in a similar way: Camille T. Dungy’s “The Preachers Eat Out”
A poem that, for me, demonstrates how line breaks really do matter even in unrhymed poems: John Brehm’s Sea of Faith. (I wanted to point someone else to it a couple of eons ago, and at the time the only online version I could find was one where the line breaks had not be reproduced and it made me itch. [My original notes, from — good grief, 1 November 2000 –“I recommend seeking out a copy of the printed anthology at the bookstore for the actual poem – I found it funnier with line breaks. (Why? Line breaks build in pacing. Pacing is key to comedy. Ask any clown…”)]
…and here’s me reading “Sea of Faith” on my cellphone a couple years ago…
…and here’s another poem by Brehm (“Getting Where We’re Going”) that I might use in a church service at some point.
Another poem Mary’s entry prompted me to look up was John Wieners’s “A Poem for Painters,” which — if I could save only one poem out of the entire Beat anthology, that would be the one. Its original ending takes my breath away every damn time, and I wrote a bit more about it for an online project….
…but at the moment I’m feeling more than a little at sea, because in hunting for an online posting of the poem, I came across three “new” last lines that aren’t in the printed version I own. They appear both in the excerpt in a profile of Wieners and in references to a recording he made of the poem. I dunno. My first reaction is that the new last three lines are too much, but that could be my shock speaking. But then again, Auden’s final renderings of “If I Could Tell You” and “A Bride in the 30s” make me nuts (and make me very glad indeed that both “Selected” and “Collected” editions of his work have been in print)…
…which brings up the old story about him disowning “September 1, 1939” (which is, I’m guessing, a major reason the “Selected” edition remains in print). And, yeah, it doesn’t hurt to be reminded in passing that even the greats had to wrestle with variations of failing better (especially after a drive across Tennessee just long enough for one to realize (finally) what-all’s not working with the 2000+ word draft one has been bleeding drop by stinking drop through one’s forehead over the past six days. What a
stupid aggravating onion-y onion-esque process this is).