in which I officially admit to liking something a dude did

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Happy fall, darlings!

I happen to hate fall, but I take it that apart from me (and blogreader Brittany—to me she is BFF Brittany, but you probably know her as blogreader Brittany) fall is universally beloved, so have at it. It’s pretty, I’ll give you that. And it seems that some people actually like dead things littering every inch of the earth that you have to painstakingly capture and discard, so I hope those weirdos are really living it up (and when you’re done living it up at your place, please feel free to come over to mine and do some raking, for I am already behind).

I’ve been busy cooking and chocolatizing and preparing to have a few friends over this weekend for fried green tomatoes (East Coast peeps: go to any farmer tomorrow and I guarantee they will give you all the green tomatoes you can haul away—go!)  then the Last Supper art show thingie on Saturday–busy week! If you’re in the Brooklyn area be sure to come check it out. I am totally tickled that I am officially an “artist” (because everyone knows that what makes you an artist is being called one online).

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I had a bunch of tryouts for the poem I’d be writing in chocolate for the Last Supper event, and finally settled on a Susan Griffin number called “Bread.” It’s pretty, and it fits on a large sheet pan that will fit in the back of my car, which is apparently what I look for in poetry these days. You might remember Susan Griffin as the author of the seminal ecofeminist text Woman and Nature—I had no idea she was a poet until I stumbled across a book of her collected poetry at my friendly local bookshop (discounted to $6 because of a stain on the spine I am resolutely telling myself has to be coffee).

One of the runners-up for the choco poem was pretty much anything by Matthew Dickman, my current poet crush. In the end I had to rule anything of his out because I couldn’t find a suitable poem that was the requisite sheet-tray length, but I’ve been mightily enjoying his one and only book, All-American Poem.

My god, what a giantly sweet mass of cotton candy of a treat this little collection is. You can read it like a novel and it’s just as tasty as if you read each poem slow like an English major, coaxing out all the allusions and flourishes. And it’s magnificently, generously sexy too—as sexy as the author photo on the back, which is saying a lot.

I’ve been walking around for about a week now whispering Matthew Dickman wonderfulness, feeling the special deep-down happiness that only taut lines strung together in surprising and ultra-clever ways can create. My sweetheart, a dude who bore witness to me spending the last two years of college only reading women poets and who didn’t bat an eye when I literally segregated our books by gender and put all the feminist books and poetry in a separate room so they could “breathe,” has been amused by the whole thing.

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“I don’t think I’ve ever heard you say you liked a poem by a guy before,” he said, all bemusedly and shit, the other day. He’s probably right. No one says they like Shakespeare (verily though, I do, and I have the iPhone app that proves it) or T.S. Eliot (do I dare disturb the universe? In truth, though I very much like Eliot, my thoughts about him are mostly in the “I wonder what Virgina Woolf really thought of him?” vein. In truth, I very much wonder what Virginia would think or did think about a great many things in a week…is this weird? To wonder what Woolf would make of Facebook? I would so like to know.) When Jacob’s not home and I can’t sleep I read Rimbaud in French out loud to my cats…and that’s about it. A little Donald Hall here, a dash of Mark Strand there (you know: ‘Ink runs from the corners of my mouth. There is no happiness like mine. I have been eating poetry.’)  that one W. S. Merwin book about Hawai’i—done with dudes.

Dudes are usually such fantastically boring poets, you know? But the ladies: my Adrienne Rich first and foremost, then that sad old Plath who will never get out of my head because she does not do you do not do any more black shoe & I’ll probably be mumbling about eating men like air on my deathbed, and Denise Levertov and Joy Harjo, Haunani-Kay Trask and of course the doomed Sexton, my BFFFF Dorothy Parker and her polar opposite,  Emily Dickinson. Audre Lorde Audre Lorde Audre Lorde. Marge Piercy and Grace Paley and yeah, now and then, maybe just a little Katha Pollitt too. Katherine Mansfield and Anais Nin. Be still my heart, Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, Christina Rosetti and Nikki Giovanni and Phyllis Wheatley and even good old Sappho, sure. Gwendolyn Brooks and Lucille Clifton and Carolyn Forche and Louise Gluck–even Erica Jong, in high school, under the covers, secretly.

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Once you start only reading novels and poetry by women, it’s so easy never to stop, to just forget that whole fucked-up boy world exists. I heard this fucking doucher James Ellroy on NPR the other day, and it reminded me all over again why dudes like him have ruined novels by men for me–seriously!

But, as my 73-year-old BFF Selma is fond of pointing out: men these days are different. Softer. Matthew Dickman is one of them, and, rightfully, his poetry reminds me of that great lesson we’ve been letting poetry teach us forever: how amazing it is to be alive, right now, here.

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This book in my hands, these words in my head.

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14 Responses to “in which I officially admit to liking something a dude did”

  1. brittany

    1. You writing to me on FBK at 3am EST is generally a good indication that there is blogness coming. Hence, I am here, first, again.

    2. Fall is stupid. We are right (as usual), anyone who disagrees is wrong (as usual).

    3. Awww I took a break from reading Dorothy Parker in the bathtub bc my cell phone was blinking bc you wrote to me on FBK which led me here… (see #1).

    4. I think maybe this guy is not only palatable but wonderful to you because his name is Dickman. Can you really take yourself seriously in a patriarchal chauvinist way when your last name is Dickman? I mean, I guess you could if you were an economist or something. But not a poet. It’s just too literal.

    5. Have you noticed I’ve taken to communicating with you in numbered bullet points? Hmm…

    <3

    Reply
  2. dustinbuster

    Washington DC has given me renewed hope in men. I swear, I’ve never met so many kind, thoughtful, respectful men as I have here; I am guessing this is a result of people moving here in hopes of doing ambitious things (only to have that ambition smashed into the dirty pavement, but that’s another story). It’s inspiring.

    Reply
    • Brittany

      Wow, I had the complete opposite experience – both with people in DC and with ambitious people in general!

      Reply
      • dustinbuster

        Yeah, maybe I am dead-wrong to conflate ambitious and awesome. However, I stand behind the amazing men in DC statement–although I can certainly see how you could have the opposite experience here. Almost everyone I’ve met who works in politics here, regardless of capacity (even the lowly staffers!), are raging asshole egomaniacs.

  3. brittany

    Yeah, that sounds a bit more true to my experience. I think the lowly staffers were actually some of the worst! Ugh. Luckily, I left. :)

    Reply
    • dustinbuster

      I just moved to DC two years ago, and the first party/gathering I went to was hosted by staffers. One guy I thought was the most arrogant person I’d ever met, and I’d lived in DC less than 2 weeks and wanted to go right back to Asheville, NC. Thankfully, my experiences here have broadened, and I definitely know to stay away from the political types. At. all. costs.

      Reply
      • brittany

        I guess it’s a little tougher to avoid them when you ARE one of the political types! Gasp!!! AM I A COLOSSAL DOUCHE?!?!?! :O

  4. dustinbuster

    NO, you are Green Party political type, so that doesn’t make you a douche, but rather a hippie. And a colossal one at that.

    :-)

    Reply
  5. brittany

    OMG THAT’S EVEN WORSE!!! I’d rather be a douche than a hippie, I’m afraid. Plus, in DC, are there really green party political types? I was working at a democrat type political job, dressing like a democrat type douche, and, apparently, acting like one, too. Yuck!!!

    Reply
  6. Chutney

    I wish that part about men being softer these days was true. I’m 22 and I assure you that guys my age are revolting, and not in the Mary Daly sense of the word! It disturbs me so much when a self-proclaimed ‘progressive’ (has that word lost all meaning?) guy blathers on about he just loves porn. I don’t understand how someone who can pick apart the sexism and racism in a music video or advertisement can choose to ignore it in porn. Are people just really stupid?

    Also, I saw premixed crumble in a box yesterday. Humanity is doomed.

    Reply
    • lagusta

      THE FACT THAT A 22-YEAR-OLD USED THE PHRASE “revolting, and not in the Mary Daly sense of the word” HAS ME LIVING ON SUCH CLOUDS OF ECSTASY THAT I MUST TYPE IN ALL CAPS FROM NOW ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Quintessence to you, you positively revolting hag, you have made my day!!!!

      And yes, people really are that stupid. I once wrote an essay all about why I so loathe “progressive” dudes: http://www.lagusta.com/rants/mens2007.html The formatting is kinda bad, but you’ll get the idea.

      Reply
      • brittany

        i read your progressive men thing (and obviously loved it, do i even need to keep saying i love stuff anymore?) but sensed some hostility toward third wave feminism… elaborate?

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