October 9, 2007

Frequency North, October 4

This is the third year of this reading series at St. Rose, run by new poppa Daniel Nester. This year the readings have been moved from St. Joseph's Hall auditorium, with the big stage & curtains, to the Library. Same number of people showed up, just looked more crowded. I mean if the same 40 people showed up at the Knickerbocker Arena -- I mean Pepsi Arena -- whoops, no, Times-Union Center -- folks would say, "there was nobody there." Like skinny girls in tight pants.

The poet tonight was David Lehman, editor of the series The Best American Poetry & the recent edition of The Oxford Book of American Poetry, as well as author of several collections of poetry, including When a Woman Loves a Man. He read a poem from that book & it sounded like one of those articles in Cosmopolitan magazine explaining why after sex guys put their jeans on & go out for a smoke, & the women want to cuddle & discuss wedding plans. He also read a couple poems from his "poem a day" project, a couple set in Albany, but filled with everyday cliches. To call the Empire State Plaza "Rockefeller's last erection" in cocktail conversation elicits knowing chuckles, in a poem it's banal. I have a personal affection for Mayakovski's "Brooklyn Bridge," & Lehman did a version based on translations he read because he felt none of them were adequate. He also did some new poems not in any of his books, including some where he writes "in the manner of..." with a couple of my own favorites, Cafavy & Neruda.

In general, his work is clever, discursive, contains complete, grammatical sentences, often lists & pronouncements, but many poems sound contrived, like exercises. Perfect for American Poetry Review.

Also something I've noticed here & at the Writers Institute readings, or wherever academics gather, students & profs don't like to clap, not like at community readings "downtown" where we clap after each poem. Sometimes, at such readings, I clap just to get others to do it & it usually throws the reader off. I think David Lehman liked the adulation of the undergraduates & would've liked the applause, so I didn't clap until the end.

Oh, & you poets who tell us not to clap until you're through, fuck you, I'll clap if I want (or not at the end).

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

COMMENT FROM THERESE BRODERICK--
The tone of my remarks here is meant to be respectful and curious, not confrontational (I'm not scorning confrontational people; being confrontational is just not my style). From this blog posting as well as other encounters with you, I get the sense that you don't like the category of "academic poetry." What is it that you don't like? Do you dislike all academic poets, even the ones who study Chinese poetry, or those who study Beat poets, or those who host "frequency north," or those who stage local multi-media performances? Or do you dislike only some academic poets (and if so, which ones)? From this blog posting and other encounters with you, I get the sense that you think poetry exercises and prompts are useless. All poetry exercises and prompts, even those offered by Suzanna Rancourt at her poetry workshop which you attended? Even the methods with which you used at your "Writing from Art" workshop to inspire participants to write? Or only some exercises and prompts (and if so, which ones)? I would like to know what kind of poetry you admire and why, and what kind of poetry process (technique of composition) you admire and why. Do you admire only poetry which isn't "contrived"? I doubt there's any poetry which isn't "contrived" to some degree. What do you mean by not "contrived"? What is your favorite poem of all time, and why? Who is your favorite poet of all time, and why? Would you dismiss an academic who studied your favorite poem or poet? From some of my conversations with you (however brief), I get the sense that you think I am being dishonest about the kind of poetry I write: is it academic or not? Please let me clarify that I greatly value my MFA degree and think that it helps me to write better--if not great--poetry. I'm not an "academic" only because I do not currently have an academic job. But I greatly admire many poets in academia; I greatly admire scholarship; I love listening in on the academic debates and discussions. Does this fact about me automatically condemn me in your opinion? If so, that attitude would seem to be a prejudice. Anytime you would like to talk more about these issues with me, either by blog, phone, email, or in person, please get in touch. But please let your readership (blog audience) know what kind of poetry you think is best, and why.

Anonymous said...

Blogership - audience of blog readers (new term formed moments ago)

as Thom would say, Nee-ways

DWx, keeping it real, I can dig it. I would like to him to publish his little notes-book, would like to see what he writes about me, probably then, would like to club him repeatadly.

Nee-ways...

db

Tim V. said...

thank you Therese for your thoughtful comment. I read Dan Wilcox's blog all the time. I often am not sure where Dan is coming from either. I think it would be great if Dan would address your comments so his loyal readers can place a better perspective on his comments. from reading Dan's blogs he tends to love Lark Tavern and Valentine's despite the low attendance, he tends to be negative about Caffe Lena despite the large attendance. The Albany poets tend to get a better rap than the Saratoga poets. I tend to think the poets up North are more skilled and have a clearer message or more substantive message, even though I'm an Albany poet. So it would be helpful to know Dan Wilcox better.

Dan gave a very positive review of Michael Czarnecki while many in the same audience thought he relied far too heavily on telling disconnected stories.

Of course I think even Dan would say its only his opinion but since he is the voice of the Albany poetry community if you will, I think Therese's question beg answering.


The best way to know Dan Wilcox better would be for Dan to directly address these very thoughtful questions from Therese. Dan Wilcox's next blog should be about Dan Wilcox yay!!!

Miriam said...

Keep clapping, Dan. I loved this review! I was beginning to wonder if you loved everybody. Hey, everyone: Dan doesn't pay attention to "categories." He just loves poetry that makes you feel, move, groove, curse, laugh, sh*t, cry!

Tim V. said...

Miriam you were excellent tonight. I thought all your poems were so direct, so accessible. Very interesting, very poetic.

Dan I trashed 2/3 of "War" and read it again tonight.

Anonymous said...

FROM THERESE--
Miriam, I think that it's almost impossible not to "feel" something after hearing a poem. Every poem makes the reader/listener "feel" something, even if it's boredom or confusion or irritation. Also, I would like to add "think" to your list. A poem can make us "think. It's almost impossible not to think something after a poem. And I would propose that "thinking" and "feeling" are much the same, simultaneous experience, NOT opposites. A "thinking" poem is not just an "academic" poem; and a "feeling" poem is not just a "community" poem. (Hope this doesn't sound too academic.)

Tim V. said...

Dan, I absolutely loved the "Fuck You" statement about when or when not to applause. HILARIOUS.

When I feature please feel free to throw flower pedals and money and cry with happiness.

Anonymous said...

"The Two Temples" by Herman Melville.

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting discussion of who's "academic" and what that means. You prompted me to write about how to identify an academic poet. It's at www.myspace.com/charlierossiter

Come on by and discuss/argue/etc.
Charlie

Anonymous said...

TO TIM V. and his comments about "Dan's blogs he tends to love Lark Tavern and Valentine's despite the low attendance, he tends to be negative about Caffe Lena despite the large attendance".

What does attendance have to do with the quality of the poetry and poets that are there at the reading? If you have 150 people in the crowd, does that mean that the poetry is better than the venue with only 5 people?

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