David Cherry's blog

Poetry, Politics and Principled Uncertainty

Typiewriter! by etharooni/ethan r"Have you ever heard of insect politics? Insects don't have politics. They're very... brutal. No compassion, no compromise. We can't trust the insect. I'd like to become the first... insect politician. Y'see, I'd like to, but..."
--Seth Brundle, The Fly (1986)

Last week's post got me thinking about poets as public voices, presuming to, or being presumed to, speak for those who can't or don't speak for themselves--in short, poets as political animals.

A Poet By Any Other Name Is Still Unknown and Broke

In 1961, Newton Minow called television “a vast wasteland.”
In 2009, it’s pretty safe to sayTV test pattern Indian Head image largest test pattern from 1960's by Wonderlane Ol' Newt's perception of scale was just a smidge off the mark. The brain fairly puckers to imagine the description he would cough up today.

On Odes, OCDs, and a Cat Named Jeoffry

It is an unfortunate reality of collective memory that Christopher Smart is remembered less for his poetry than for hisCat Jump 1 by Robbie Sproule cat, the admirable Jeoffry, and his habit (Smart’s, not Jeoffry’s) of throwing himself down to pray whenever and wherever he felt called to do so, including, according to Old Sam Johnson, the sewage and offal-strewn streets of London.

Notes on Notes from Underground, Punk and Russian Poetry

Photo Credit: Klaviatura by khanele / Hannah Born We all come out of Gogol's overcoat
                      --Fyodor Dostoevsky
When I read Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground for the first time, it screwed me to my chair for about a week. I was paralysed with a not completely unpleasant terror that when or if I finally pried myself loose, the world would no longer be the brick-and-mortar, what-you-see-is-what-you-get place I had always thought it was. And I was right; when I eventually stepped out into the sunshine, I saw cracks and seams everywhere. I knew for the first time that if I had the right kind of crowbar, I could finally get a good look at the springs and sprockets that made things go.

Elegies

Sometimes there are no words. 
But time, because it cannot know how fragile we are, will keep flowing.
We will eventually step back into its current. There will be solace.

"And Death Shall Have No Dominion" in The Collected Poems: 1934-1952 / Dylan Thomas
The Book of Psalms
 
Elegy: Poems / Mary Jo Bang
"Elegy Written in a Country Church-Yard" / Thomas Gray
The Duino Elegies / Rainer Maria Rilke
"Kaddish" in The Collected Poems: 1947-1980 / Allen Ginsberg
"The Rain" in The Collected Poems 1956-1998 / Zbigniew Herbert

If You Can't Say Anything Nice, Say It in Print: Scattered Thoughts on Criticism

Photo Credit: Underwood Typewriter II by Geof Wilson  Several weeks ago, I had what I thought was a brilliant idea: Why not write a critique of criticism. I thought I would argue that the thumbs-up-thumbs-down approach is too blunt an instrument for poetry and that there seems to be a tendency for poetry critics to review the poet rather than the book, so that every review becomes an appraisal of a career.

On Influence, Influenza and Outright Thievery

Photo Credit: Glad Day for Surfin,' after William "Hodad" Blake by Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com Lately, I have been thinking a lot about this aphorism. It seems to have as many originators as it does permutations. The gist of it is, “good writers borrow; great writers steal.”

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