25 thoughts on “Also

  1. Kathy HIlen-Smith

    p.s. I really wanted to see Cheney wheeled away on a gurney. Guess I have to settle for a wheelchair.

  2. Lucy Foley

    Someday, Kathy, you will read books and watch documentaries that will offer you photographic evidence that though he spent his days in the White House, his evenings were spent in a nappy, suspended by chains, in a DC Mistress’s underground tunnel.

    All good things come to those that wait.

  3. M Sarki

    Suppose I think I’m enough of a poet to trash the Inaugural Poet reciting for Barack Obama. Perfect example of how not to write a poem, nor how to present a poem. Not one strong word. Not even a strong syllable. Forget what she was trying to say. It doesn’t fucking matter. Anybody could have written that poem,
    and that fucking poem should have knocked our socks off. The old black preacher who followed her was miles above her in his choice of words and delivery. But, I am still quite glad that Little George is gone, Cheney in a wheelchair. It is my wish that Dick’s condition quickly accelerates. Some six feet under.

  4. Lucy Foley

    I agree about the poet: what weird delivery. It was like she was a particularly inane school principal, trying to spell out some important lesson to an unruly pupil in her office. Flat as the plains of the Heartland. Writing sentences in short lines does not a poem make.

    Choosing a poet for sentimental reasons does not make a good show. I loved the preacher. He was the only dose of human good humour in the whole affair. “Brown can stick around”. Sure thing, bro.

  5. Cindy Scroggins

    I missed the whole thing–stupid work. But I just read a transcript of the poem, and I have to say I found it to be much better than I am seeing here. It strikes me as almost Whitmanesque in its simplicity of language and concrete imagery. I don’t doubt that the poet delivered it horribly, but I think, if you read the poem itself, it rises to the occasion.

    “Say it plain, that many have died for this day.”

  6. Lucy Foley

    I don’t doubt the earnestness of it. But it seems to me to be a poem about writing a poem that had to have some themes in it. At no point does it take flight. It’s leaden, never steps out.

    “Sing the names of the dead who brought us here” she says. Sure thing, sister. Sing them! Instead, we get endless description.

  7. Sheila Ryan

    We turned the sound down when the official poet commenced to recite. Then turned it up again for Joseph Lowery. I liked it that he incorporated lines from “Lift Every Voice and SIng” (“The Negro National Anthem”) into the benediction. At least I think he did; they struck an awful familiar chord.

    And I swear I remember that black/brown/red/yellow/white routine from back in the wayback days. That was pretty cool, too.

    You divine rascal, you, I thought.

  8. M Sarki

    Three hundred and forty-one words in this piece-of-shit Inaugural poem. And of those 341 words I found these words worth being there, or in any poem: brick, dead,and train. I wanted to add her phrase “today’s sharp sparkle” but seeing it here in print made me want to go into convulsions. So how many words did I get? I count three, and not even put in the right places. OK, what’s 341 divided into three? I get, what, under 1%? How about 100%? Why can’t poets strive for 100%? Especially an Inaugural Poem? This is why most people hate poetry and why most people write shitty poems. This is also why students in school are taught to write and read shitty poetry. And that is why I hate poetry in general. Except Cooper’s, and mine, and Gilbert’s, and Stevens’, and Emily D’s. Not to mention Barton’s and any others I find by accident. This woman’s poem was no accident. It was simply pure shit.

  9. Phil Bebbington

    I too listened to the whole poem. My urge was to switch off but I felt sure it would take off and soar so I listened to it all. It did not – I ain’t no poetry expert, just a guy with a camera, but it really did fail in the delivery, in my opinion.

  10. Elizabeth Perry

    Poetry and politics are not necessarily a happy combination.

    What thou lovest well remains, the rest is dross
    What thou lovest well shall not be reft from thee
    What thou lovest well is thy true heritage

    “piths and gists” was Pound’s definition of the stuff, and “news that stays news.”

    Can’t abide his politics but the rhythms stay with me, close to the bone.

    The inaugural poem shapes up better on the (electronic) page than it fell on my ear. I don’t believe it will stay news.

  11. Lucy Foley

    M: well your passion is clear but I don’t think that poets need to be reaching for percentages either way. It’s something altogether other than that. Also, deciding what words belong and don’t belong in the realm of poetry does seem to strike me as familiar ideology from another realm, one that we might be reminded of by the presence of the old preacher on that stage.

    The power of words is not innate in them, but in how they are animated.

  12. M Sarki

    I need to move on, but I’ll try one last word on this topic. Read the latest issue of The Believer and the article written by none other than Gary Lutz. Excellent, excellent. Attend a few classes by the legendary Gordon Lish. Words do matter. Every one of them. Syllables matter, every one of them. I rest my case. I’ll let the experts argue the rest for me. Been fun while it lasted. Over and out.

  13. Cindy Scroggins

    I find myself in the odd position of defending a poem that I don’t find to be particularly good, and whose delivery (which I have yet to experience) was, by all accounts, horrible. But quality as a poem and aptness for a huge public event are two different things. We’re talking Woody Guthrie here, not Bach. It’s a populist poem with a populist message, fully accessible by all, with a couple of areas of quiet power. Granted, it would have been wonderful to have a poem both great and apt, but has that ever happened with an assignment? I frankly find most poems with broad popular appeal to be both unreadable and unhearable ( I’d rather be shot in the face than have to sit through a reading by Maya Angelou.) My feelings on this poem aren’t strong enough to argue it passionately, but I do think the poem on the page will survive.

  14. Lucy Foley

    M: nobody on this thread is arguing that words don’t matter, or that syllables don’t matter. It strikes me that this thread is fucking FULL of people for whom syllables matter a great fucking deal, actually, M. The part of your previous comment that I found objectionable was this:

    “… I found these words worth being there, or in any poem: brick, dead,and train.”

    Are you serious, M? You’re seriously telling us that those three words are ‘worth’ being in ‘any poem’? Are you prescribing a list of suitable words for poetry, and thus, presumably, another list comprised of other words which, under some rule of absolute law, do not belong there? Are you fucking serious, M? Are you? Because if you are, then I think you’ll need more than Gordon Lish or the other ‘experts’ to clear that kind of totalitarianism out of your mind.

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