Bill Keller proposes that the current occupants of the Capitol would benefit from a little poetry:
Poetry is no substitute for courage or competence, but properly applied, it is a challenge to self-certainty, which we currently have in excess. Poetry serves as a spur to creative thinking, a rebuke to dogma and habit, an antidote to the current fashion for pledge signing.
He quotes from William Carlos Williams (somehow I had remembered these lines as coming from Whitman): “It is difficult/to get the news from poems/yet men die miserably every day/for lack/of what is found there.”
His colleague David Orr suggests some works that might serve as antidotes to the paralysis. I think Kay Ryan’s “All You Did” is especially pertinent.
Don Share’s a Jethro Tull fan: “The Crew Change” at Poetry Daily is a keeper. Jumpy rhythm and simple metaphor.
“Hem Stitch Hemi Stichs,” a masterful poem by Judith Baumel. Lovely alliteration and springy rhythms.
‘Tis Poetry Month once again, and Patrick Cooper points to Jay Parini’s list of ten American poems then “have left the deepest mark on US literature – and me.” Robert Lowell is more or less unknown to me, and Parini’s selection, “Memories of West Street and Lepke,” reminds me pleasantly of Marianne Moore. I haven’t read much Whitman for a long while—time to rectify that.
“The Sink,” by Catherine Bowman, in this week’s New Yorker, witty wordlists jumbled together.
Via languagehat, 2,187 words in 243 end-stopped lines from Anne Tardos in the Ashberyesque “Nine,” with a whiff of Larry Shue’s Charlie Baker:
Yentsia bakoondy eeleck, ta-dee-doo-dah, bentsey la cozy fen-fen.
Bit baloon timi zin zah, timi zin zah, zimbudah.
A recent run of fine poems at Poetry Daily, inculding “The Welcome Chamber,” by G.C. Waldrep.
Julie Sheehan’s “Big Crazy Victorian” is at Poetry Daily.
Via kottke.org: this sounds like a dumb idea, like a lot of the McSweeney’s and Onion items that aren’t funny once you get past the headline. But it kinda works: George Herbert’s been remixed.
A grim little poem from Allen Grossman:
is real cold.
No stove, pigs or not,
is hot enough to bring
well-water to blood heat.
For that you need a heart.
…with an allusion to the first verses of Amos 8:
Thus hath the Lord GOD shewed unto me: and behold a basket of summer fruit. And he said, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A basket of summer fruit. Then said the LORD unto me, The end is come upon my people of Israel; I will not again pass by them any more. And the songs of the temple shall be howlings in that day, saith the Lord GOD: there shall be many dead bodies in every place; they shall cast them forth with silence.
“Ode on Dictionaries,” by Barbara Hamby.
you are the megaphone by which I bewitch the world
or not, as the case may be. O chittering squirrel,
Ziploc sandwich bag, sound off, shut up, gather your words
into bouquets, folios, flocks of black and flaming birds.
Robert Hass reflects on abstract paintings by Gerhard Richter in the poem “Time and Materials.”
Stone masons are scribing a quotation from Walt Whitman’s “The Wound Dresser” into the Q Street N.W. entrance of the Dupont Circle Metro station. The complete stanza reads:
Thus in silence, in dream’s projections,
Returning, resuming, I thread my way through the hos-
The hurt and the wounded I pacify with soothing hand,
I sit by the restless all the dark night—some are so
Some suffer so much—I recall the experience sweet
(Many a soldier’s loving arms about this neck have
cross’d and rested,
Many a soldier’s kiss dwells on these bearded lips.)
Update: Via a DCist comment thread, WMATA’s press release on the project.