April 23, 2009

Tasty Sauces

What follows is from a great entry up at Harriet (the blog of the Poetry Foundation) by Camille Dungy, on a semester's worth of introducing her students to contemporary poets related to their own projects. In the excerpt below Dungy talks about the kids' reception to Patrick Rosal, one of my favorite poets and an absolutely phenomenal performer...

"The other poet who surprised me with his broad reach was Patrick Rosal. In this case, two poems from his latest book, American Kundiman, struck very different students’ interests. One particularly philosophical student, taken to long, meditative narratives featuring professors, barmen, scatologists, etymologists, and priests who meet in far away towns, found himself drawn to “An Essay on Tango Composed While Listening to Adriana Varela” which begins:

I swear to you I heard someone on Avenida Santa Fé shout my name but I ignored it Who knew me in this city anyway? I’d come here trying to forget the woman whom I’d made love with every night for three weeks in another August in another city whose once-in-a-lifetime dog-licking summer stewed the hot copper reek of coins right out of my palms But in this city I put my head down as I walked thinking of that story about the boy who remembered everything: every swelter of ascent every susurration of fire every etymology of touch

And another student, apprenticing herself directly to Rosal’s work, turned in a poem modeled after “The Woman You Love Cuts Apples For You” complete with the second person, multiple story lines, unpunctuated sentences, and tasty sauces of the original. She learned a lot trying to write like Rosal. She learned, for instance, that she couldn’t write like Rosal. In so learning she began to see some of the reasons why not, which lead her to understanding some of the things she could do in her own writing and also some of the things she still needed to work to perfect."

Read the whole entry here.

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