by Daniel A. Nicholls. Poetry, art, and related problems.
Like sea foam cracked
across darker mossy rocks
are my lover’s eyes to me—
heady, salty, and cold.
by Daniel A. Nicholls
Originally published in Commas and Colons.
What needs to be done?
Fill out the application
and enclose the résumé.
Regardless of the length of life,
a résumé is best kept short.
Concise, well-chosen facts are de rigueur.
Landscapes are replaced by addresses,
shaky memories give way to unshakable dates.
Of all your loves, mention only the marriage;
of all your children, only those who were born.
Who knows you matters more than whom you know.
Trips only if taken abroad.
Memberships in what but without why.
Honors, but not how they were earned.
Write as if you’d never talked to yourself
and always kept yourself at arm’s length.
Pass over in silence your dogs, cats, birds,
dusty keepsakes, friends, and dreams.
Price, not worth,
and title, not what’s inside.
His shoe size, not where he’s off to,
that one you pass off as yourself.
In addition, a photograph with one ear showing.
What matters is its shape, not what it hears.
What is there to hear, anyway?
The clatter of paper shredders.
Wislawa Szymborska, “Writing A Résumé”
from View With A Grain Of Sand: Selected Poems, trans. from the Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh(via bluedollar)
A draft with bad meter
(Nareya shiru miyako wa nobe no yuukoutenshi agaru wo mitemo ochiru namida wa)
The city you knew, you see
is a field for the evening larks,
rising as your tears fall.
Urbem sentiebas, quam vides, campus alaudarum
vesperae surgunt ut lachrymae descendunt.
— Anonymous, 応仁記, ch. 47 (Ounin Ki “Chronicle of the Ounin War”), fl. ~1500.
And there we have a nasty externality not much talked about: the torque placed on the mission of poetry when there are large numbers of people with material entitlements to defend. Most of us are middle class, after all, and don’t like to think of ourselves as useless; therefore, some utilitarian benefit to poetry and the teaching of creative writing must be continually asserted. In the marketing copy of our time, poetry stops torture, poetry restores lost muscle tone, poetry removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. As for what poetry actually does, it stands there gotten up in the fireman’s outfit, a beatific smile on its face, as the helmet slips over its eyes.
When I look at the bourgeois poets of another era, I am struck by how freely their art breathes without this burden of continual self-justification. Williams and Stevens had their usefulness seen to by their day jobs; on the page, they are relaxed in a way that now seems strange. It is very difficult to imagine the creative writing professors at Asshole State (to borrow a phrase from the late great Alan Dugan) coming out for poetry as the Supreme Fiction. It would seem irresponsible. Who gets paid to study the Supreme Fiction? People who get thrown up against the wall when the revolution comes, that’s who. D.H. Tracy, “D.H. Tracy and the Role of the Poet-Critic”. (via akeenerheart)
Words with Weeden
A conversation about “jazz cats”:
Smith: “But they have twice the chops on us.”
Weeden: “yeah, but we have distortion so F#*ck them.”