May 20, 2009KR BlogKR

Six First-Book Excerpts, with Jarrell Brackets

In his essay “Some Lines from Whitman,” Randall Jarrell writes,

To show Whitman for what he is one does not need to praise or explain or argue, one needs simply to quote. He himself said, “I and mine do not convince by arguments, similes, rhymes, / We convince by our presence.” Even a few of his phrases are enough to show us that Whitman was no sweeping rhetorician, but a poet of the greatest and oddest delicacy and originality and sensitivity, so far as words are concerned.

I’m sitting in one of Seattle’s best bookstores (but not the best), surrounded by words. Most rest quietly on the bookshelves; some are propped up in front of me. Here, then, is a small collection of words, pulled from six recent first books — books of delicacy and originality and sensitivity.

***

From Christian Peet‘s Big American Trip (Shearsman Books, 2009):

A postcard sent to WABC Radio:

THE STATION OF THE CLASSICAL ROCK ALLOWS THE FOREIGNER & IS GOOD TOO, WHAT I HEAR:

HOP LOADED

WHALE, I’M HOP LOADED
CZECH IN SEA

ZYGOTE A VIVA
OR 103

MAMA/BABY/TOUCAN
DOOM OR THE DANCE

ON HOP LOADED!
ON HOP LOADED!

***

From Alison Apotheker‘s Slim Margin (Word Press, 2008):

APOLOGY TO MY UNBORN

of my making and unmaking —

my little stowaway,
my shipwreck,
my unmooring —

my seedpod, my tadpole,
my apostrophe —

my come again some other day,
my unnameable unnamed one —

. . . . .

my cracked egg, my basket of weeds —
my secret,
my sorrow, my undoing.

***

From Susan Parr‘s Pacific Shooter (Pleiades Press, 2009):

BRANDOID ROUNTEEN

Brandoid Rounteen is a very fine drink,
a very fine drink indeed.
One of them makes six of a man;
two of them makes thirteen.

***

From Bradford Gray Telford‘s Perfect Hurt (The Waywiser Press, 2009):

SELF-PORTRAIT ON A NEED-TO-KNOW BASIS

Case Study

If I had called, and he had answered me. – Job 9:16

There once was a man who forgot that dying
was a choice, who eventually forgot
to die altogether. His children thought
him spiteful or, peut-etre, lazy, citing
myth, biology, habit, good taste, voicing
grave concern about his stamina. . . .

***

From Zach Savich‘s Full Catastrophe Living (University of Iowa Press, 2009):

THEN . . .

Then I was as happy
as a hot air balloon
in a ham sandwich.
Healing thinned me.
I no longer scuffed
steps’ rubber no-trip
strips. I chose regret
again. Again again.
Then I was great ape sad. . . .

***

From B. T. Shaw’s This Dirty Little Heart (Eastern Washington University Press, 2008):

THE IMPORTANCE OF FINGERS IN A RHETORIC OF GESTURE

Tree monkeys raised me.
Glorious slack-hammock arms!
Fur like hashish fog.

***

In his essay on Marianne Moore titled “Her Shield,” Jarrell writes,

The reader may feel, “You’re certainly quoting a lot.” But I have only begun to quote — or wish that I had; these are just a few of the things I can’t bear not to quote, I haven’t yet come to the things I want to quote — I may never get to them.

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