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Odd Words May 27, 2010

Posted by The Typist in Odd Words, Toulouse Street.
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Here in the land of 10,000 bars you have to love the idea of a book titled THE DRUNK SONNETS. I think we’ve all penned a few bar napkin or pocket notebook masterpieces we wish we could read the next day.

This was the part of the review of Daniel Bailey’s book that intrigued me: “…I found it difficult not to admire Bailey’s willingness to put himself on the page without regard for how he might be received in a current poetic climate which more and more seems to be spitting on personal sincerity. These aspects of the collection look into the eyes of existing trends in poetry and say “NO” and that is something hard not to get behind. I say the approach in “Drunk Sonnet 15” is only seemingly formulaic due to the fact that by virtue of the formula usage, Bailey is refusing to pander.”

The reviewer calls up the memory of famous tipping authors Charles Bukowski and Frank O’Hara, but given the attempt to stuff a rebellion against contemporary poetic preferences into sonnets published in ALL CAPS, I can’t imagine why John Berryman didn’t come to mind. He quotes DRUNK SONNET NO. 1 and Berryman’s clever disregard for syntax and convention even as he managed to create hundreds of poems in the same form. If you don’t hear a bit of Berryman in these two lines, you’re not listening hard enough.

I CAN’T SLEEP AT NIGHT AND AT DAY I DON’T WANT AWAKE
AND A BODY THAT RUSTS INTO HARD AND AND UNBELIEVABLE

As the reviewer points out, it’s hard to criticize the occasional erratic syntax of a man who confesses to writing while drunk, and whose author photo shows him holding a PBR. Then again think about talking to someone who’s quite drunk and the syntax makes as much sense as Berryman and Mr. Bone’s minstrel speak. Here’s another example from the author’s blog DRUNK: THE DRUNK SONNETS. The first line is one example of many on the blog (I don’t have the book yet) of what I would suggest is not a fortuitous accident of drunken scribbling but a serious attempt to create what looks like drunken scribbling.

IF EVERYONE IS OK THEN WHY I AM I NOT
IT’S OK TO CRY A LITTLE, I THINK, JUST CRY
I THINK I WANT TO EAT YOUR SMILE TONIGHT
I THINK THERE’S SOMETHING IN IT TO KEEP ME ALIVE

I also hear Bukowski, in a poem like DDRUNK SONNET NO. 10:

THE AIRPORT IS A TERRIBLE PLACE TO EXIST
THE GROCERY STORE IS A TERRIBLE PLACE TO EXIST
PETSMART IS A TERRIBLE PLACE TO EXIST
THE THAI PLACE IS A TERRIBLE PLACE TO EXIST

His litany of terrible places to exist goes on for four stanzas ending with:

I’M THINKING ABOUT EVOLUTION AND THE WAY WE CHANGE
AND HOW LONG IT WILL BE BEFORE I HAVE A TAIL AGAIN
AND I CAN FORGET ALL THAT’S HAPPENED

Just because what sounds good to you as your rattle the empties on your desk with loud music from the PC speakers doesn’t mean you won’t delete it in the morning. I am a huge fan of Bukowski and I must confess he likely published more than he should have but there are lines that come in the dark of night, wishing there was another beer in the house and watching the traffic roll buy or perhaps a police stop across the street that won’t come anywhere else. In the right hands, there is a drunken Buddha fortuitousness that produces a wonderful poem. In the few poems that he has up on the blog, Bailey has me thinking that I won’t like every one in the book but that like Bukowski there will be great rewards for my trouble.

And what can I say about a reviewer whose brief bio at the bottom tell us “Joseph Goosey parks cars in Jacksonville, Florida but he should soon be getting out of there.” And a hat tip (or, as we say on the Intertubes, h/t) to TheRumpus.Net. If I didn’t have sites like this to lead me to some of what I’m reading now I would probably have to quit my job and find them myself, and I would end up like Roberto Belaño’s teenage hoodlum poets, stealing books instead of buying them.

§ This week’s edition of Odd Words almost didn’t get written, as I’m in knots over the oil spill, but I feel like having started this I had better keep up my obligation to myself and you, my dozens of readers. Part of my reaction to the BP disaster was to send off a poem I wrote about the oil spill to The New Yorker, as there really aren’t that many outlets for poetry with a weekly publishing schedule and I wanted to get it out there and I thought: why they hell not? The reject slip is going to look mighty impressive up on the nail on my wall.

Another reason I almost skipped this week’s OW is that it’s another quiet week in Gulf Wobegon, without a lot of events but there’s always a lull after Jazz Fest in the first of summer’s heat. The bands all leave for the road, and I guess traveling author’s from more temperate climes aren’t banging on the door to come either. Here’s the usual suspects

§ The 17 Poets! series hosts a weekly poetry reading. An open mic follows. Free admission. 8 p.m. Thursday. Gold Mine Saloon, 705 Dauphine St. No note from Dave yet. I’ll post an update if he doesn’t get his announcement out before this goes up in the morning.

§ The south’s longest running poetry event, the Maple Leaf Reading Series has a Memorial Day open mic. Free admission. 3 p.m. Sunday. Maple Leaf Bar, 8316 Oak St.

§ I have yet to check this out but it comes highly recommended: Open Mic Poetry & Spoken Word – Loren Murrell hosts a weekly poetry and spoken-word night with free food. Free admission. 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. Yellow Moon Bar, 800 France St., New Orleans.

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Comments»

1. this is a god damned roundup | Metazen - May 28, 2010

[…] review of a […]

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2. Odd Words « Odd Bits of Life in New Orleans - June 3, 2010

[…] Metizen: Thanks for the link. Was the opener of last week’s Odd Words a “review of a review”? I’m not sure that entirely fair. Yes it referenced […]

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