Saturday, August 30, 2008

Copy Cat--At bat: Bad Cat Copying

Assignment: "Write a poem in imitation of [Jesse Seldess]'s style."

I have done so . . . as best I can. The poem is in two parts. Reader beware.


Who you have continually overheard
Break off your edges
You fall
In decorous new stares
And hear ring
From inside lethargy and crawl
The widest known expanses
For you
Too small for you hearing
Enter incredible landscapes
Plunge by


Plunge by and
Enter incredible
Too small for you hearing

You fall

Fall hearing landscapes
and land scraping

and fall

Plunge by
plunging in
incredible landscapes

In credible lands capes
Too small for you


lands scrape

You plunge in

Lunge in for you
Dungeon for you
This scraped landscape

All too for you

For you

You enter
From inside lethargy and

Inter in
Credible landscapes
Too small for your hearing

For you
Plunge bye by your

Incredible landscapes

Too small for your hearing

You hear ring
More credible landscapes
More incredible landscapes
Unscraped by credulous hands

Your lands

Credible lands wear
Decorous rings
Where rings wear
No things
Known things
And where hearing

you are

The widest known expanse is
the land is
where edge is

the widest known expanse is

For you
Plunge by in
Your land hearing
Hearing you withstand your
Credible landscapes

Lands shape
Your hearing


your credible landscapes

From inside lethargy you crawl
From inside lethargy
The widest known expanses
Expanded is
For your hearing

Small was
Hearing from inside lethargy
You crawl stare
And stand out

To stand out you crawl
From inside lethargy and crawl out
the widest known expanse

Ring here your hearing

You hear
From inside lethargy
The ring

Decorousness stares

New stares
News stares
At decorous ringing and lethargy

Hearing nothing
Of stairs

Inside lethargy
You fall
New stairs


New tears
From inside lethargy
You crawl
hear tares lethargically ringing


Wringing in

You fall indecorously

New stairs stare wringing
Ring and fall indecorously

Break off your edges


ledges and new breaks and hedges
Break from inside falling
You hear

And you

You stare incredible


And fall
and land edges

though scraping
plunge through
and plunge in

Inter the credible
The known weddable
In dungeon in

To plunge
New edges for your spaces
Pace incredible places

And faces

Lands and faces
Landscapes of unweddable edges

You fall
Crawl hearing lethargical


Plunge by

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Give me your inspired, your salable.

Even though I've just started my new job at Claire Gerus Literary and only this week begun classes at the University of Arizona, I'm already beginning to notice a disconnect in my head over what makes good fiction. Reading through potential manuscript (ms) partials, I'm turned off by what appears to be--at first glance--the "uninspired," the mundane and conceptually boring. In short, solid commercial fiction. Where are the juxtaposed images? Where does language become organic, having value and beauty of and for itself rather than being simply a tool for moving plot along? And yet, I look at the first of my assignments, a "close read" of Jesse Seldess's Who Opens, a book of poetry that reads (for me, who has only a little knowledge of modern poetry--one of the things I hope to correct this semester) like a hypnotic stimulant for the acceleration of seemingly random synapse firing. As a literary agent (which I am not, but hope to one day become), would this kind of literature appeal to the masses, or only to the elite? To be honest, I can't imagine wanting to pick up another book by Seldess without a graduate degree in literature or unless I had some strange obsession with obscure up-and-coming poets. But does that mean Seldess is "real literature"? Does that make his poetry any better than the last query I read and found intriguing enough to request from the author a synopsis and 50 page partial? So the standards are shifty, the ground gives underfoot, the borders of my neat kingdom have gotten moved around (some giant time-baby with a paintbrush and white-out, probably). I seem to be straddling the field; yes, even the "expanded field." Here, where binaries become bleakly pragmatic, I want to know: academia or salability, and is there a way to bust up especially that binary, or leave the field intact but still explore the edges of it, where fuzzy lines mark innovative and dangerous territory?

See Jorie Graham's Introduction to Best American Poetry 1990 for a better grasp on the undertakings of and oppositions to modern American poetry.

I have also included a link to PennSound, at which you can listen to a reading of Open With by Jesse Seldess himself.