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“is stuffed, de world, wif feeding girls”

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Even the people who know me best would guess wrong, perhaps maybe with one important exception. Given a list of books that I would most like to write something just like, people might guess Ulysses, or Portrait, Disgrace or Diary of a Bad Year. Madame Bovary would figure. Or maybe Underworld, Infinite Jest, fucking Netherland in the worst case? Others might say Postmodernism: The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. I’ve hinted that I’d like to write a new Kapital – it’s mostly a joke. Principles of Literary Criticism?

But actually, really, what I’d love to do is something like John Berryman’s The Dream Songs. I have the right disposition, I am sure of that. All of the other that goes into something like this, who knows – doubt it strongly. There’s a chance that if I prepared for my tutorials properly…  But dispositionally, sure, have that in spades. Ugh.

What an odd text. Shakespearean brilliance, that sort of line play, cut with downmarket thematics. Get a bit baffled by his virtuosic breaks, willingness to indulge himself with the short line. It’s actually the only thing in the world I willingly reread. Purchased for a strange class with BLeithauser, from what I can remember, sometime in 1998-1999. It was the first time I saw anyone use a french press, which someone recently had to reteach me how to use. The American Long Poem, was it? Just before I changed sides to the novel. Remember staying up late at that table in the kitchen (Missus? You souviens?) to write the papers for it. Wish I could remember what I wrote about, but I know it wasn’t Berryman.

Discovered the other day that #14 is hung on the wall right outside my office. Omen I missed, somehow. But how did I miss it? Perhaps because I don’t believe in omens.

Watch. Will do something strange with this blog. Why not at this late stage in the game?

Written by adswithoutproducts

September 10, 2009 at 1:26 am

Posted in poetry

9 Responses

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  1. All I can say is that you made the right decision in following me on Twitter.


    September 10, 2009 at 2:01 am

  2. The first writing prize I got was for a Dream Songs pastiche eulogizing Berryman, who’d died a few years earlier (but I’d just gotten the news). At that time, as a sixteen-year-old in an isolated farming town, I assumed that “Delmore” was a fictional character made up to have a name as comically uneuphonious as possible.

    At this time, age fifty, the Dream Songs still rank as one of only about four things I might classify as a guilty pleasure, as opposed to a pleasure that’s provided extra pleasure in its explication.

    Ray Davis

    September 10, 2009 at 2:23 am

  3. Recently had a dream where I chastised a boy for stealing potatoes. The obtuse pointlessness of it makes me wish I never have another dream again. Just close eyes, blank out for 7 hours then up again to face the unvariegated boredom of another day closer to the grave. If stealing potatoes helps pass the time then I don’t see why dream-characters shouldn’t be free to indulge in it.


    September 10, 2009 at 11:21 am

  4. Wouldn’t you like to write about *Diary of* a Bad Year instead?


    September 10, 2009 at 1:11 pm

  5. Calabazanova,

    Well the feeling is mutual. I have a feeling I’ll last about 30 seconds on twitter. I just don’t like it.


    Very good to have you pop up in here! Absolutely agree about the Dream Songs, yes.


    Excellent. These are getting better and better. More whimsical, which is good.


    Fixed. You know why I do that? I overcorrect from my initial sense that it is Journal of a Bad Year – Defoe etc. I do it all the time, and you caught me.


    September 10, 2009 at 1:29 pm

  6. Can anyone point me to an explanation of why European English-language poetry of the last century has, with very few exceptions, been so consistently shit when compared to American? Think of Berryman… and then think of Ted Hughes. Or Ashbery, and then Seamus Heaney. Or in fact almost anyone.


    September 10, 2009 at 2:02 pm

  7. I’m reading Shop Class as Soulcraft, by Michael B. Crawford, a PhD in political philosophy turned motorcycle mechanic. According to him, you should all learn to fix or build something.


    September 11, 2009 at 3:11 am

  8. T.M., do you like Bunting? (“I don’t know, you naughty boy…”) Although he’s historically grouped with the Objectivists, I think he’s temperamentally closer to some Americans who seem clunkier than him (Olson, Duncan).

    Ray Davis

    September 12, 2009 at 12:11 am

  9. Does anyone know of any (good) examples of blogs being used as novels (each entry a ‘chapter’ etc)?

    I don’t mean lies and random fantasies, but long-form structured narratives?


    September 13, 2009 at 4:59 pm

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