THE CURIOUS CASE OF MONDAY LOVE

m-love

Thomas Graves, a.k.a., Monday Love, a.k.a. Thomas Brady–poet & oxygen-sucking blogger.

Alan Cordle was the mind of Foetry.com. Christopher Woodman was its heart.  Monday Love was its soul.    Monday Love’s anonymous poems on Foetry.com have received over 74,000 hits–and counting.   The impulse of the true poet–who cares who wrote them?

The following poem, in which ‘telling all’ destroys the poet, is more than just a confessional poem; in the new post-foetry climate, the paradoxical reigns: self-pity turns into a boast; anonymity is the way to be more revealing.

~

…..Poetry Is Where You Tell All

…………Poetry is where you tell all.
…………It takes no talent or skill.
..……….Make yourself small
…………By telling all.

…………Poetry does not take learning.
…………It is but a fury, a burning,
…………A passion which makes you small
…………By telling all.

…………You enter rooms watching your back,
…………Your life in place, your pride intact.
…………But you must burn, crash and fall
…………By telling all.

http://foetry.com/forum/index.php?topic=47.120

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5 Comments

  1. cowpattyhammer said,

    November 18, 2009 at 3:32 am

    Thanks for that, Tom — rarely do I read a poem over as many times as I’ve read over this one, and still I’m going back for more!

    I mean, how many times do we have that experience today? Today we reread only because we don’t understand what we’ve read, and in a bit of a huff — or because we have to teach the poem and to do that must find something ‘intelligent’ to say about it, which is almost impossible, or because we’re mentoring or writing a review or don’t want to look stupid at a wine and cheese fund-raiser for a press that sells books but nobody buys them. What we don’t do is reread a poem because it’s a friend, because it’s walking beside us on a long country walk in the autumn and has so much to say. We have miles to go, and the poem doesn’t have to be rushed, or feel it has to say just what it means in one way, or pretend anything, or stand on it’s head or confound us. It’s a friend on a long autumn walk, such a poem, trying it’s best to say what needs to be said but is almost impossible to utter and then only among friends. That’s the kind of poem I want, that’s the kind of poetry circles I want to move in, and the experience that makes all the trouble and bother and loss and even knowing you’re dying worthwhile.

    Which is your little poem to a T, Tom — a treasure.

    The best word in the poem is, of course, that daring word “small” — and I’m particularly interested right now because I just found myself using the same word a couple of times in my comment on your “13 Ways of Looking at William Carlos Wiliiams.” Indeed, I quite shocked myself to hear myself describing John Ashbery as “a small talent,” can you imagine, and although I did insist that W.C.W. was a “major poet,” I still called his work “humble, unassuming, small-town verse,” and “essentially unspectacular” — which, of course, I meant not just as a reality check but as a compliment!

    On my long autumn walk I want unspectacular verse as my companion, not Flarf or Foolery or Floor-polish — because I don’t want to be bored and I’m in love with the weather and the silence in between the sound of your voice!

    In contemporary poetry circles “you enter rooms watching your back,/your life in place, your pride intact,” because poetry is no longer a companion but a tactless bully who will do anything to get the teacher’s or the editor’s attention, to win the big prize, to get the big job and the tenure and the false accolades that blurb so well, and of course ultimately to become the next rocket to blast American poetry into or-Burt.

    You enter rooms watching your back,
    Your life in place, your pride intact.
    But you must burn, crash and fall
    By telling all.

    And of course you also want coverage, you want to be noticed, you want to be the artist in the garret who gets talked about in the salon and strung up on the cross to be adored for your failures as much as your fashionable break-downs and your fetishes.

    But “small” poetry is much harder to write, like a crystal is much harder to assemble than a literary-critical midden or even a slag-heap as high as a mountain. To strive to be clear and lean is a far greater challenge to any artist than to pretend to be new and complex. Deliberate obfuscation in words, whether by addition, subtraction, multiple personalities or the calculus, is not only fraudulent but boring!

    Thanks, Tom.

    C.

  2. cowpattyhammer said,

    November 18, 2009 at 6:57 am

    I work so closely with Tom, and have been through so many battles beside him, I’m sure it is hard for any of you to believe that I don’t actually know him. More than that, aside from the photo of him with the Foetry goggles and The Poetry Foundation baseball cap we posted earlier on this site [click here], I have never even seen a photo of him!

    So this is a special moment for me too, to see my friend materialize on the screen before me like an extraterrestrial avatar on Star Trek!

    And not surprisingly, this is what I see.

  3. November 19, 2009 at 6:05 am

    Dear friends,
    I’m fed up with being Cowpatty Hammer, though it was fun for awhile. Now I want to stop thinking about Travis Nichols, who gave me the name, of course, and concentrate more on the prejudices and limitations that created the train-wreck that was Travis-on-Harriet.

    “The Curious Case of Monday Love” represents a new step for us on Scarriet, and though we will continue to monitor Blog;Harriet we will concentrate more on ourselves from now on, and the values we cherish.

    In my last comment on the “13 Ways of Looking at William Carlos Williams” thread, I refer to the table at Baan Hom Samunphrai in Thailand where I live. From now on I will speak more personally as a poet writing and talking about poetry from wherever I am.

    ~

    LOVE LETTER TO YOU HERE

    If I could write what I meant
    not stand on my head on top of a tree
    with my feet in the stars
    on a high frosty night
    the chickens could chuckle
    lined up on the roost
    and the deer be alright like the ridge
    with no poem
    or the moonlight—

    and lying here still I’d be still
    on your side of the bed.

    ~

    That simple little poem was written last year at my brother’s house on a bluff above Fish Creek in Wilson, Wyoming, yet people gathered half way around the earth at my table at Baan Hom Samunphrai still like it.

    As Tom says, who cares who it’s by — and why can’t American poetry restart from there?

    We’ll talk about that, not just about why we got banned for modelling an alternative discourse but also, of course, for modelling that discourse so well!

    What else could you do but cry uncle!

    Christopher

  4. dmanister said,

    December 4, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    Dear Tom,

    Your poem is ironic in the extreme, being a didactic poem that confesses absolutely nothing!

    Diana Manister

  5. thomasbrady said,

    December 4, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Diana,

    Before Modernism took over, that is, before school chums Hilda Doolittle., Wiliam Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, and Marianne Moore intellectualized poetry and destroyed its popular appeal, women were the most important poets—Julia Ward Howe, Emma Lazarus, Elizabeth Barrett, Felicia Hemens, Alice & Phoebe Cary, Lydia Child, Emma Embury, Margaret Fuller, Sarah Hale, Mary Hewitt, Lucy Larcom, Amy Lowell, Edna Millay, Elizabeth Kinney, Harriet Monroe, Elizabeth Oakes-Smith, Frances Osgood, Ella Wilcox, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Helen Whitman. Women sang America’s song.

    We no longer read or appreciate these women, largely because they were didactic.

    Poe condemned the didactic.

    The abolitionists wrote didactic poetry.

    Poe, as a Southerner, believed the abolitionists were firebrands, out to destroy the United States.

    Women’s sense of justice drove the popularity of writing and song, of poetry, of women’s writing, to a large extent.

    Whether you agree with Poe or not is beside the point, but I think we can see that the didactic is perceived as dangerous in certain quarters, and it cuts both ways. If your view is expressed, you might cheer the didactic expression, but if it’s not, you might be horrified at how didactic poetry can popularize points of view you may disagree with.

    For whatever reason, the modernist movement agreed with Poe (even as it reviled the author himself) in condemning the old didacticism of the Longfellow Age, or, the Age of the Woman Poet.

    The poet Frances Harper (1825–1911) wrote these words:

    Very soon the Yankee teachers
    Came down and set up school;
    But, oh! how the Rebs did hate it,—
    It was agin’ their rule.

    Our masters always tried to hide
    Book learning from our eyes;
    Knowledge didn’t agree with slavery—
    ‘Twoud make us all too wise.

    This is didactic as hell—but I like it. This is how women used to write, and women were truly the conscience of our nation. With modernism, we threw out the baby with the bathwater. Poetry, in the name of the sophistication of deferred meaning, lost its playfulness, its meaning, its voice. The “Rebs” reasserted themselves—in Letters. The Modernists were “Rebs.” As strange as this sounds, there’s some truth to this. After all, the New Critics, who solidified Modernism in the university, began as Southern Agrarians. Despite the “learning” of the Modernists, they silenced the voice of the old popular poetry, which featured sanity, conscience, and beauty.

    As for my poem being “didactic” and “ironic,” we can look at it this way. There are 3 basic levels of meaning:

    1. Sense
    2. Ironic sense
    3. No sense

    Poetry can inhabit all three levels, but no. 2 is ideally where poetry should be.

    Thomas