March 19, 2008

Two Bits

When all else fails, get a haircut.


I can't let another day go by without sharing how much I enjoyed Matthew Thorburn's reading at the Library of Congress.

Matthew is a blog-friend and a fellow New Issues poet, but I confess I hadn't read much of his work. I knew I was in for a good time the moment I heard his poem describe "the loneliness of valence electrons, all those open hands." It's a rare and lovely thing when you go to a reading and feel like you discover a kindred voice--someone whose eye is drawn to the same things yours is, someone who writes in rhythms naturally pleasing to your ear. I felt immediately engaged by the poems on a very deep level.

It was a real treat. And because the Library of Congress likes to throw a bit of a party, there was wine and green veggies and chips and guacamole afterwards. So, thank you, Matthew! Thank you, Charles Simic, for picking Matthew! And thank you, LOC, for a little oasis of comfort amidst the tired and dreary days of moving.

Here's one poem that I loved, and was lucky enough to get a text of afterwards:


a flea that hops from dog to dog. And Wendi
was like, “Cherubic is just a nicer way
to say fat.” And Len was like the drain down which
you pour the tail-ends of old liqueurs. Blue Moon.
Quince schnapps. Then Naoko was like, “Who threw
this party, anyway?” And Suzy was like, “I hate
to say it, but I'm all sushi’d out.” But Fred was like,
“Let’s dance.” But Sylvia was like a typewriter
in a crowd of computers. And Jill was like a man
who asks his wife for a divorce the day after
an earthquake. But Sal was like, “Now is asks
really quite right?” And Bob and Bill were
the red banners strung up and down Mott Street
that say “Happy New Year” again and again.
But Betty was like spaghetti—stuck to the wall.
Then Jill sneezed and sneezed, like a phone
that rings and rings, that rings but doesn’t get
picked up, and she was like, “We all have so much
to let go of.” And Franz chimed in, “We’re lonely,
even though we have cell phones.” But Ty was
like a magnet—made of metal, highly charged.
And Joan was like winter, but with all her leaves
still on. Then Sylvia was like a peck on the cheek
and a peek down the blouse. And Naoko
was like that blouse. And Jane was like the clock
that turns back just once a year. Tick-tock,
tick-tock. “Where’d the time go this time?”
But I can’t forget Lily—Lily like a wisp, like
a whisper. Lily like the fish the fishermen missed,
slippery, silvery, here and not here. Now here.
No, here. I fell for her. And then I was like
the fall. And she was like the “Maple Leaf Rag”
the blind pianist played that made us
stop and close our eyes.

--Matthew Thorburn
(this first appeared in Passages North)

Winning a Witter Bynner award is a big deal even beyond the (10K) financial dimension; it is a good omen. Claudia Emerson won one right before she won a Pulitzer. So we can expect great things from Matthew and his co-winner, Monica Youn in the not-so-distant future. At the very least, someone should take that second book manuscript off Mr. Thorburn's hands ASAP...


Also, I am overdue on this tag from both Bernie and Oliver:

My six-word autobiography:

Arms up on the roller coaster.

I don't like tagging folks, but I did enjoy this exercise. So if you're inspired, please play along--and leave a note in the comments to let me know. I'll link to you from this blog entry.


Finally--if you haven't seen it, there's a pretty feisty review by Dan Chiasson of David Lehman's new anthology of "The Best American Erotic Poems" here. Bill Logan's not the only one out there willing to say--loudly--when he does not like something.


I am ready for April. Even though April involves daily poeming, and that terrifies me. But I am certainly ready to be done with March.


Matthew Thorburn said...

Thanks Sandra! It was great to meet you.

christina b. said...

Freedom by finding truth in beauty.

Greg said...

Six words:
Someday I'll look back and laugh.

(Don't be terrified—you don't HAVE to write everyday. I'm gonna try, but if I do ten and one is good, that's a GREAT month for me.) Kepp on keepin' on, Sandra...your blog inspires me.

Greg said...

Oops...I mean "keep."