Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Cartoon Snark

Jacket has a pretty funny cartoon up at their site (hat tip to Mr Craig for the heads-up).

"Do we NEED another W.C. Williams on smack?"

It would be better than another W.C. Williams on Zoloft.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Praise Where Praise is Due

One of the driving motivations for this site has always been to encourage more candor, honesty, and wit in reviews of books of poetry. Now I know that this site is ultimately just another "fart in the whirlwind of the internet," as JP put it in a recent comment here, but hey, what can you do?

So on those rare occasions when I read a review that shows some guts and goes after a stinkbomb of a book or pops somebody's puffed rep, I feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and I wanna share the love. Unlike Garrick Davis of the Contemporary Poetry Review, Diana Manister has delivered the goods, producing as direct and incisive of a takedown as I've read recently and gracing us with a bit of real Menckenesque snark. Her subject: the very same book Davis disliked but waffled before, Mary Oliver's brain-splittingly awful, Why I Wake Early. I have a few problems with this review (why still give Oliver two and a half stars?) but it says what it means and avoids the deadening niceties that so infest poetry-speak these days.

Her review begins with a sentence that would have made the editors of the old Edinburgh Review proud: "The poet Mary Oliver is the Denny's Restaurant of American poetry: consistent and banal." Yes! Why can't we read more reviews like this?

Other choice morsels:

"A more sanguine poet might also see that the Lord's gift to the gull was probably an infestation of parasites that caused it to scratch..."

"A. R. Ammons, walking the beach in his great poem 'Corson's Inlet' saw 'everywhere life under seige.' Compared to him, Oliver is Mary Poppins."

"Take off your bonnet, Mary, it's too late to live in the Sixteenth Century."

And Manister doesn't let up in the end either, concluding: "Only poetry that asserts the presence of goodness while acknowledging evil can bring comfort in a world where children sent to school may be taken hostage or shot. Little Mary Sunshine doesn't get it done."

Indeed. Props to you, Diana Manister, for bringing it on. I hope I can buy you a beer someday and talk shop. If you ever want to guest post at Poetry Snark, let me know.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


I figured out how to move the Revell post so the link works now. If you don't know what I'm talking about, don't worry about it. It's not worth it.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Blood is Back

Bill Blood -- from the comments section:

hello snark and snarkers and snark-fag-lollis-cum-prep
-brownies, blood sees a mountain ant-astir-- hast thou all forgotten your'n long wish of folding pink unto pink unt pummeling? there is true indecency of spirit here-- wasted zhan/zhan post-nagano stylings of mind and wasted skates-- anorexic of the norman orchard sixteen year olds grappling with baytrail kkk methods in yearbooks. blood has seen sadness shaped like a bead of silicon sealant and seen it sealing a mouth of wonder... hast thou'n all'n seen wonder so shut? has't thou'n lost your keys? Unt wass iss'st zis rigmarole ? Iss'sst iss'st nacht unt oppoortunity fur und mondscheiner key to twist zurlion flesh? I see a mountain top astir with clouds, I see a pale green horse running from the nineteen seventies monobrow, I find difficulty logging my comments, it is hard to read wavy letters and to not feel an overwhelming sense of sadness, spreading the tablecloth, setting the table calling out 1,2,3 UNT yanking the table cloth away. Here the glasses stand, the cutlery und gravy boat, the cake of butter carved into a weeping yellow swan on a TABLE not of ice but of photographed ice, a layer of spray painted ice beneath the real clear layer of ice... frauds are brushes mechanically moved, killing poor blood, sweeping his/her hair back, back unto the center of its back... dogs don't do drugs, they are already on drugs. Why must you put me in my animal head? why must you tilt my head back to see me, changling, dying

Blood chats a suck-of-deer
Sucks it all afield
Carpathians, dynastic rock
645 b.c.e

Friday, February 10, 2006

Live Audio of Poetry Snark Now Up

So if you're interested, Alan of Foetry now has a podcast interview with me up at his site. As you'll hear, I tell a lot about myself, including the fact that I'm a graduate of the Iowa Death Star. Indeed, I was once christened "senior stormtrooper" in a secret backroom meeting with Jorie "Darth" Graham. My job was to hunt down and kill editors who weren't publishing what we deemed was enough work by Iowa grads. Many an editor who you may think is real is actually a clone of the original, genetically programmed to play along with the syncophancy and cronyism you've come to know and love. And I laughed as I heard them die.

Alan asked if I wanted to use some kind of software to mask my voice, but that seemed dumb. I expect some of you to recognize who I am, but I'm hoping that my friends at least will refrain from outing me in this thread (pretty please). As for my "not friends," the first among you to out me wins a special prize. Muhahaha!

What do you think? You can use the thread for this post or the one at Foetry. We cover a lot of ground--how the Iowa poetry machine works from the inside, the politics of literary tooldom, the godawfulness of Billy Collins and others, the sad state of poetry book reviews, and yes, Darth is discussed a bit.

In part two, to be posted soon, Ginger Pennebaker takes the mic for a while, and I put on my Marxist hat to offer an economic analysis of M.F.A. programs.

Check it.