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