Potter Interview

Pre-Plague London

Brian Jobe Hiding Out on Twitter

Blurbs

When I asked GK for a blurb
I worried that I might disturb
The genius at work—
But he didn’t shirk
Providing a blurb so superb.

And then there’s that Jonathan J.
Whose blurb lit some fire to my hay
For a great conflagration
Of sweet adulation
And mythmaking making the day.

Now Ms. Wright can blurb with the best
And her blurb came last but impressed
With fantastic words
That gave flight to birds
From a Petrarchan palimpsest nest.

Tulips Sans Chimneys

Tulips for Elsie cover image

Mr. Potter’s given us a bold adventurous book with plenty of sharp turns at high speed, with some gestures toward Neruda and Merwin but also “Sk8,” a gr8 skateboarding poem, and sonnets, and brave ventures into rhymed verse, poems for friends and relatives, “Stopping by Blogs on a Frosty Evening,” and poems of passionate love with angels looking down from above. Plus tulips and Elsie. —Garrison Keillor

I have enjoyed the company of Jonathan Potter’s poetry for years and rejoice at the arrival of this new collection with its unabashed delight, authentic intimacy, and emotionally convincing, often playful music. Potter is at turns a graceful, organic monologist and a wry, deft formalist. These are poems of generous mythmaking, self-deprecating humor, passion, and the glories of fatherhood. They inhabit a Seattle of historical icons and the poet’s own skateboarding youth, a London of “tidy grime” and love, and the derelict and divine streets and poetry community and waterfall of Spokane, this poet’s answer to Williams’ Paterson. By the time Potter wishes he could “become myself with vengeance / and take you with me,” he has done both. —Jonathan Johnson

In an era of poetry that plumbs humanity’s darker depths, it is a pleasant respite to read Jonathan Potter’s Tulips for Elsie, a collection that wears its pathos and its prosody lightly as it confronts life’s familiar concerns—love, sex, family life, and his beloved native place (Spokane, Washington)— with full-bodied affection and gentle irony. Many poems here are sonnets—not just Petrarchan or Shakespearean but also Onegin stanzas!—yet Potter makes rhyming in these conversationally-toned fourteeners look effortless. Particularly engaging are the portrait sonnets featuring poets and writers associated with Spokane (Alexie, Howell, Walter among them), the longer poems about the poet’s lively and accomplished daughters, and the poetic palimpsests replying to or parodying well-known classics. By the time we finish reading, we may feel ourselves, with the poet, to have “co-authored  . . . a beautiful book of longing.” —Carolyne Wright

A reading of Sherman Alexie’s “That Place Where Ghosts of Salmon Jump”

The Keillor Treatment

Pictures of [Korrektiv] Poets

Check.

It.

Out.

Three Two One Zero

What the Sky Lacks gets launched, March 11, 2019, at The Bartlett

Blastoff

What the Sky Lacks

What the Sky Lacks: poems by Thom Caraway, new from Korrektiv Press and now available from Amazon; soon from other fine booksellers everywhere.

What the Sky Lacks

Unto Us a Book

What the Sky Lacks

coming soon

What Came in the Mail

So Recently Rent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From JOB, for Christmas … with a note that perhaps I have an affinity for Eastern Europeans, to which I can say, Yes, I certainly do. I hadn’t read much of M. Codrescu. Know of him primarily because of his NPR gig, of course, and something he’d written in connection with New Orleans. Leafing through the table of contents, the title “dream dogs” caught my eye, which turned out to be a good choice because it is (a) short, and (b) consists of lines that are entirely left-justified, which is makes reproducing it in this post much easier.

dream dogs

years ago it was easy to dream of wolves
and wake up your lover
to show him the blood on your hip.
the wolves had ties
and followed after every sentence
rather polite.
now there are police dogs
using tear gas and the lover next to you
doesn’t wake up.

ME: I like it. Thinking that it must have been written with a woman in mind, I flip back a few pages and learn that it’s from a section named for a former wife, Alice Henderson-Codrescu. Naturally, this interests me, and so I read a few more.

reverse

the storm outside
must be the kind you read about in the newspapers,
killer of babies and bums.
the kind of rain that goes in the subway
when i hold on to the coat of a fat man
whose disastrous life
makes me happy.

ME: Not much to do with the wife, as far as I can tell, but the alliteration in “babies and bums” catches my ear, and the schadenfreude my heart … although I’ve put on a few pounds this last year, so …

zzzzzzzzzzzz

i want to touch something sensational
like the mind of a shark. the white
electric bulbs of hunger moving
straight to the teeth.
and let there be rain that day over new york.
there is no other way
i can break away from bad news
and cheap merchandise.
(the black woman with a macy’s shopping bag
just killed me
from across the street.)
it is comfortable to want
peace from the mind of a shark.

ME: I like this one, too, although I don’t have much of an idea about what it means. The title leads me to suspect it is perhaps a version of a dream he’s had, and now I wonder whether all of the poems in this section are based on dreams, since we have it in the title of the first poem above, and the imagery in each of the poems has sort of chaos we often experience in dreams. The lower case letters bring to mind W.S. Merwin, but Codrescu’s poems contain a great deal more of life as most of us find it. He isn’t trying for the sublime in every line, and in fact seems to be trying to avoid anything that might signify portentousness. So yes, I like it. Not as much as JOB’s own poetry, but I’ll be dipping back into this volume until I see more from him.

Thanks JOB!

This sounds vaguely familiar…

But I could swear it takes place on the West Coast – in a place like Seattle or something…

…and BOB goes Nobel!

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Sorry, Cormac, maybe next year.

‘The Poems You Write Up at Night’: Compulsive Versifying

A few excerpts from that article ‘Compulsive Versifying after Treatment of Transient Epileptic Amnesia’ in Neurocase that everybody’s talking about:


 

Abstract

Compulsive production of verse is an unusual form of hypergraphia that has been reported mainly in patients with right temporal lobe seizures. We present a patient with transient epileptic amnesia and a left temporal seizure focus, who developed isolated compulsive versifying, producing multiple rhyming poems, following seizure cessation induced by lamotrigine. Functional neuroimaging studies in the healthy brain implicate left frontotemporal areas in generating novel verbal output and rhyme, while dysregulation of neocortical and limbic regions occurs in temporal lobe epilepsy. […]

[Read more…]

A profile on the face of quirkily hyper-sexualized, unconnectedly earlobed (and, of course, Catholicish) American poetry, or How I learned to stop projecting and love Sharon Olds

lockwood

Lockwood was born in Fort Wayne, Ind., and was raised, as her author blurb states, in “all the worst cities of the Midwest.” What it does not say is that her father is a married Catholic priest, currently in a diocese of Kansas City, Mo. This requires a bit of explanation….

As a child Lockwood was intensely pious. “Catholicism is very beautiful,” she told me. “When your father is a priest, it’s invested with extra authority, and your father is invested with extra authority.” As a teenager, she had a strict dress code and a very limited range of after-school activities, which included a youth group called God’s Gang. “There was a lot of talk about gangs at the time,” she recalled, “and the idea was, what if there was a gang but it was a cool gang — for the Lord?” In God’s Gang they spoke in tongues, and the leaders would outline “all the sex you can’t do.”

Title for my eventual volumne of collected poetry

Caterwauls & Doggerels

Which reminds me, I need to finish the poem I started for the Lansing Priest’s ordination:

A priest makes men uneasy – how dare he what he does?/Standing in the breach ‘tween God and man…

And also the poem I started for the Confirmation of my two sons and godson last Thursday:

When the Spirit first descended/ When the reign of death was ended/ He came/ As flame/ That burned and rested all at once/ Consuming all but what Christ sought to save/ The wheat within the chaffy shell/ Since chaff is all that’s bound for hell/ And only wheat may live beyond the grave…

You know, because only jazz criticism sells better than poetry.

Exchange (for FOK Paul)

[Neko Case’s “Middle Cyclone” playing on car stereo.]

Eldest Daughter: You know, I think Neko Case is the Catwoman of music.

Me: So then who’s Batman?

Eldest Daughter: Duh! Tom Waits of course!