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From the letters of John Keats:

"I am certain of nothing but of the holiness of the Heart’s affections and the truth of Imagination—What the imagination seizes as Beauty must be truth—whether it existed before or not—for I have the same Idea of all our Passions as of Love they are all in their sublime, creative of essential Beauty."

"I scarcely remember counting upon any Happiness—I look not for it if it be not in the present hour—nothing startles me beyond the Moment."

"The faint conceptions I have of Poems to come brings the blood frequently into my forehead."

"Man should not dispute or assert but whisper results to his neighbor, and thus by every germ of Spirit sucking the Sap from mould ethereal every human might become great. and Humanity instead of being a wide heath of Fuse and Briars with here and there a remote Oak or Pine, would become a grand democracy of Forest Trees."

“... what quality went to form a Man of Achievement especially in Literature and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously—I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason—”

“I have an idea that a Man might pass a very pleasant life in this manner—let him on any certain day read a certain Page of full Poesy or distilled Prose and let him wander with it, and must upon it, and dream upon it—until it becomes stale—but when will it do so? Never—”

“I think Poetry should surprise by a fine excess and not by Singularity—it should strike the reader as a working of his own highest thoughts . . . but it is easier to think what Poetry should be than to write it—”

“Ethereal things may at least be thus real, divided under three heads—Things real—things semireal—and no things—Things real—such as existences of Sun Moon and Stars and passages of Shakespeare—Things semireal such as Love, the Clouds &c which require a greeting of the Spirit to make them wholly exist—and Nothings which are made Great and dignified by an ardent pursuit.”

(The elderly novelist to whom this letter is addressed won his reputation in the middle of the century and was thus a survivor of the Golden Age of Russian literature.  He had written to young Chekhov, with whom he was not acquainted, hailing him as the outstanding writer of his generation and urging him to undertake a serious piece of work that would demand time and thought, even if it meant going hungry.) Moscow, March 28, 1886 Your letter, my kind, ardently beloved bringer of good tidings, struck me like a thunderbolt.  I nearly cried, I got all excited, and now i feel that your message has left a deep mark on my soul.  As you have been kind to my youth, so may God succor your old age.  For [...]

Open the post to see the full text of each poem and a multitude of links about stuff that came up in the interview!

[audio:http://www.scatteredrhymes.com/poets/Deborah%20Landau.mp3|bgcolor=0x000000]

Interview made possible by Scattered Rhymes and listeners like you.

[Poem of the Week: 4/19/2010]

When I was in my late teens or early 20s, I was at Rich’s Cigar Shop in Portland, Oregon, which had the best magazine selection in the city in those days, and I picked up a copy of a magazine called Adbusters. The magazine had a hole in it, and a card insert with just a black spot on it, both of which were part of that particular issue’s design. I liked it. The subtitle was: “A Journal of the Mental Environment,” or something similarly boldly rhetorically Structuralist. I was surprised. I was excited. The articles were different, advocated for political agency in a way different than any I'd experienced. I felt that naïve vitality that, at 31, seems more and more difficult to kindle.

PART 1 PART 2

I followed deadpan Rivers down and down,
And knew my haulers had let go the ropes.
Whooping redskins took my men as targets
And nailed them nude to technicolour posts.

words, like weeds

To sum up our tryptych of posts for Dorothea Lasky, I present a brief and delicious interview

So we are taking off our masks, are we, and keeping
our mouths shut? as if we’d been pierced by a glance!

Dorothea Lasky is a poet of petulant grace. The particular way she does is she carves into the alphabet for poetry’s hurtfully buried, metastasized epiphanies of black life. Thence comes the fragments of jagged wonder she strings together to decorate her verse with pretty conflict. Her wonder (love and awe) is heavy and plain, stilted like she’s writing after a concussion, but the generalness of language (many fundamental ideas repeating, put forth directly) is thick—it spills over the edges of its meaning into the scary beyond. She meets herself in conversation with the space outside experience’s edges. That is the damaged holiness brought out: a haze of dirty purity like a cough toward an inaccessible God. It hurts like joy. I remembered, reading her previous collection Awe, Tony Kushner’s Angels [...]

NOTE: In lieu of Grossman today, I'm posting a short essay I wrote on Michael S. Harper's poem "Dear John, Dear Coltrane" for one of my classes back at Hunter's MFA program. Listen to the following as you read: A Love Supreme It is almost impossible to read Michael S. Harper and not feel as though you are missing out on some sort of gnostic gospel of jazz history. Haper’s poem “Dear John, Dear Coltrane” would be one of the passages from this gospel. When you consider the history of the phrase “a love supreme,” the title and incantatory phrase from John Coltrane’s own album of praise, some of the “gnostic” implications are clear. Indeed, much of Harper’s work proceeds from history and art, particularly the history of African Americans and [...]

Dorothea Lasky's POETRY IS NOT A PROJECT made huge waves when debuted at this years AWP.

Recently I have begun the epic adventure of watching a series after its time on television. This means many hours of sitting in front of a screen, not having to watch commercials or wait a week, or a year, to see how it all unfolds. Often times when you should be writing the greatest poem you’ve ever written, you instead occasionally get sucked into some ghastly TV series with abysmal, trite acting from smarmy characters trying their best to act dramatic (and god-forbid actually funny), filling us with quiet horror. The symptoms after such excursions are as follows: A stunned sensation closely followed by confusion, acute anger, a longing to have everything you just wasted your time on erased from memory, and ending with a vow to write a letter [...]

When they say, “Spring is in the air,” they aren’t kidding.  New York City is fully abloom--and it is most certainly in the air. Yes, the tulips and daffodils are afoot in the city! Perfectly coiffed Park Avenue flower arrangements trumpet out enormous lilies at pedestrians. Petunias and pansies galore! Primped poodles in their fluffed white glory don’t give damn about signs directing them away from the flower plots, it’s all the same to them—they’re just happy to be out of winter coats. Bees of all kinds are quite busy. Poets are everywhere with little black notebooks, scribbling furiously at the crocuses sprouting up around trees in the parks. But most New Yorkers (poets included, we just persevere and suffer later) are walking around in a Claritin daze, and it’s [...]

Your sonnets make Her laugh.