And when you hide poetry behind rules so you can charge tuition to teach it, the rappers stand up to carry it forward. A good example (there are many examples): this one-take freestyle with Black Thought of The Roots. I’m linking to Kottke, where I found this, because he’s better at explaining how awesome this is.
If I had to hold up the most heavily fortified bank in America, I’d take a gang of poets. The attempt would probably end in disaster, but it would be beautiful.
– Roberto Bolaño, in “THE BEST GANG,” (January 1999 – April 2000), Between Parenthesis
We are never real historians, but always near poets, and our emotion is perhaps but an expression of a poetry that was lost.
– Gaston Bachelard, in The Poetics of Space
Well, it’s Ninth and Hennepin
All the doughnuts have names that sound like prostitutes
And the moon’s teeth marks are on the sky
Like a tarp thrown all over this
And the broken umbrellas like dead birds
And the steam comes out of the grill like the whole goddamn town’s ready to blow
And the bricks are all scarred with jailhouse tattoos
And everyone is behaving like dogs
And the horses are coming down Violin Road and Dutch is dead on his feet
And all the rooms they smell like diesel
And you take on the dreams of the ones who have slept here
And I’m lost in the window, and I hide in the stairway
And I hang in the curtain, and I sleep in your hat
And no one brings anything small into a bar around here
They all started out with bad directions
And the girl behind the counter has a tattooed tear
One for every year he’s away, she said
Such a crumbling beauty
Ah, there’s nothing wrong with her that a hundred dollars won’t fix
She has that razor sadness that only gets worse
With the clang and the thunder of the Southern Pacific going by
And the clock ticks out like a dripping faucet
Till you’re full of rag water and bitters and blue ruin
And you spill out over the side to anyone who will listen
And I’ve seen it all
I’ve seen it all through the yellow windows of the evening train
– Tom Waits, “9th & Hennepin,” one of my favorite poems, which came to mind today when I crossed 9th Street, while driving down Hennepin, in downtown Minneapolis.
Words paired with sketches my using tea left ink, entitled “No Home Go Home / Go Home No Home.” What could be more satisfying these days than a renga like this, a poem of linked verse, a stark but beautiful thing? Pair with this enlightening discussion on the origins of this poem.
– via The Paris Review
Every week or so, I take all the little scribbles I accumulate in various apps and on strange, half-forgotten scraps of paper and I file them in their proper place in my system; a process I call my notebook démêler (h/t to the Cajuns of my wife’s homeland for the term, which is a fantastic way of saying “de-messification”). Today I was doing all this de-messificaiton and I noticed my list of books to read was kind of outdated (new books to add, books I’ve read to remove). Anyway, my point is that in the ten minutes it took me to update the list, I somehow managed to buy yet another book of poetry. Typical.
Also: to all the publishers who are thoughtful enough to include a page that helps you set the text size correctly on your e-reader so the poem line breaks are shown correctly, thank you, thank you, thank you. And thank you for publishing poets.
What prophecy actually is is not that you actually know that the bomb will fall in 1942. It’s that you know and feel something that somebody knows and feels in a hundred years. And maybe articulate it in a hint — a concrete way that they can pick up on in a hundred years.
– Allen Ginsberg, Paris Review, “The Art of Poetry No. 8”
The great Maya Angelou, spinning hope and wisdom and anger and love, always a difficult balance to achieve, but damn, Dr. Angelou, you make it look so easy:
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
– via Kottke.org
Poets are set against the world because they cannot accept that what there seems to be is all there is.
– Ben Okri
I’ve always admired poets, who manage to express so much under the significant constraints imposed by language. The selection of constraints has a great deal to do with a poet’s process, and Solmaz Sharif, evidently not content at the typical array of linguistic constraints, composed the poetry in Look around the U.S. Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms. The result of his process is a powerful commentary on war, conflict, and language.
– via Hyperallergic