friday roundup: S.O.S. post mortem, more on political poems, and ‘someone should mark / the day’

ours came with a really cute pickle on the side of the pickle juice shot; photo from this flickr page

Moooaaaannnnnnn. Groooooaaaaannnnnn. Mommy stayed up too late last night. Mommy was at writing group which, for reasons too complicated to explain, met at the bar in the Four Seasons hotel up in the college town. Not only did we critique each other’s poems, but we also sampled a cocktail known as the pickleback, which involves a shot of whiskey and a chaser of pickle juice. Being Poets of a Certain Age, all six of us shared one shot — yes, we did the pickleback with dainty sips. It was surprisingly good, considering I don’t like whisky. But I digress. I was saying, I was up too late and now I’m behind on everything. On to the roundup:

S.O.S post mortem  My kids are in school, so summer’s over for us. And with it goes the Summer of Submissions. I’ve learned and re-learned and re-re-learned that, really, I’m no good at turning over a new leaf. My process is more like this: Notice a leaf lying on the sidewalk. Watch it for a few days. One day maybe pick up one corner and look underneath. A few days later prop it up with a toothpick. Then maybe after a while a big wind blows through and turns the leaf over (or in other cases, blows the leaf away. But I digress again.). That’s pretty much how the Summer of Submissions went for me: slow, marginal efforts that did not blanket the earth with my poems, but that did create a new habit and result in several acceptances. This time of year poets far and wide are preparing for the fall submissions season, with many journals reopening to submissions in September. I will be plugging along with my goal of two subs per week. If there are weeks when I can do more, I will; if not, not (why am I just now thinking of the song “The Old Gray Mare?” ).

more on political poems In this post I wrote a little bit about the political poem, and I want to follow up this week with some gems I read in an interview with Yehuda Amichai, of blessed memory. If you’ve never read Yehuda Amichai, I highly recommend his work. He somehow writes of the political and the personal incredibly well, and he gets from point A to point Z and back again in a way that makes me walk around the house muttering, “How did he do that?”. Anyway, here’s what Amichai says about political poems:

I try to create a kind of equality between my personal history and the history around me because historical events often occur during times which are metaphorically concentrated. For instance, if I were to say that I remember my father during Passover in 1940… by mentioning Passover I bring into play the whole history of the journey of Israel out of Egypt as well as a particular celebration of Passover in a particular place at a particular time. Whole histories can be included in the language by collapsing content and language itself… .

This idea of calling out to a particular shared history by writing about a moment of personal history makes attempting the political poem seem less daunting to me. Read the whole Amichai interview here.

‘someone should mark / the day’  Some of you have probably already seen Gerald Stern’s poem “Day of Grief,” which came out on poem-a-day this week. For those who haven’t, it’s a stunner. Please go read it now. I’ll wait. I just love the stream of consciousness voice, the appearance of so many disparate elements in one short poem, and the idea of “my other religion.” This is a poem that makes me want to stand out on my front porch and yell: “Yay, Poetry!” But of course I won’t because I’m trying to make a good impression with the neighbors.

Speaking of which (or not), I’m late for the Ritual Opening of the Library Doors at 10:00, so must away. Have a wonderful Friday and a wonderful weekend. As always, thanks for reading.

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