Monday, December 29, 2008

Live in the Human Future

I've been in Jersey for the last 3 & half days. The bus ride back took forever, but it's nice to back & see so many people walking or biking-- as opposed to, the car culture of once-rural-now-suburban-South Jersey. I came home to the new ish of Crazyhorse (featuring a Michele Glazer poem!) and picked up Wong Kar-wai by Peter Brunette from the library, as well as, take-out from Lahore.

I left my radiator open while I was away and now the apartment is a sweat box. Ugh.

Here's some interesting info on BAP (Best American Poetry). What's really surprising is the ratio of women to men featured in the entire series. David Lehman seems to be rather "forward-thinking" so the number, or lack thereof, is plain unsettling.

2008 is almost gone. Will you miss it? I feel conflicted about the whole year. I've been lucky to have some editors publish (or accept) my poems, & belong to the Coldfront Crew, as well as, the No Tells collective, & as Ferlinghetti once wrote, "I've lain with beauty," plus I started teaching (which was the main goal of getting my MFA) & I moved to Chinatown which I love. I also witnessed the historical moment of Obama being elected as President. Yet, I remain skeptical of politics & life in general & in specific. More than anything, I'm exhausted & feel like I prolly regressed emotionally- which is disappointing. Been thinking a lot this year of individual responsibility to self & social responsibility to "others," especially the others we consider to be "close" and "dear" & well I have a lot of work to do in both regards; 'tis a heavy tiring load this thing of living. sigh &/or y-a-w-n

Anyway, yadda yadda ya... how was your year? Shits & giggles? Verse & boo-yas? Slinky songs & long arms? Smooth jumpers & fresh kicks? Do tell, do tell!

While I was away I mostly read jubilat, issue 15. There's an interview with the philospher Richard Rorty. Not everything completely jived with me, although I'll admit I know almost nothing of his work so don't have the proper background to orientate some of his comments & as a good friend is apt to remind-- my education is "spotty at best," but if you want to talk a little Whitman then I'm all ears. Below is the question/answer, which I think is a good note to end this post on... oh that & buy the issue 'cause it's pretty good.

I wanted to ask you about Whitman. You link Whitman and Lincoln a lot. What role do you think Whitman played in the American consciousness?

One thing Whitman did was simply to write poems about Lincoln. "O Captain! My Captain!" "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd"-- these poems were very widely known. When I was a kid in elementary school, we had to recite, "O Captain! My Captain!" and that was eighty years after Lincoln's death. Just helping to fix Lincoln in the popular imagination through poetry was one thing that Whitman did, but the other thing was to write things like "Democratic Vistas," which said that the spirit of Lincoln is the true spirit of the country, that the hopefulness that Lincoln showed is the hope that can change the world. That we are naturally the place where the world will come to learn what it is to live in the human future. Just this inspirational, entirely secular rhetoric was very important, because it was at a level of exultation that had been met only by religious rhetoric. Whitman put it into secular poetry.

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