THE POET’S SEVEREST CRITIC: Happy New Year!

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The Temple Boy Who’s Not There

………………O, Flatbush Bill’s
………………the Steinway grand
………………of soup and barrel organs—
………………never short on time or change
………………he’s like a man made man
………………on his toes all the time,
………………a flyweight cockerel
………………stretching out the limits of each night
………………like a massive tenor in full flight
………………or temple gong so boozed
………………and tendrilled mothers
………………light their morning fires by the
………………rumble, cooking in the dark for several lives
………………of hungry monks and temple brats
………………just to share the merit—

………………whereas none of them can hold
………………a candle to our bowlful Bill’s
………………Brooklyn breadth
………………………………………..and warble.

………………So when the monks at Wat Phra Singh
………………offered him the post of Temple Boy
………………I wrote this poem
………………so they would know what
………………not to expect
………………or how to rise, or even bow,
…………………………………………………before him!

………………Yes, he’s better west, this Mister Bill—
………………the east’s too trim for so much
………………common sense and willingness to volunteer
………………or even rest
…………………………………at full stretch—

………………coast, I’d say, choir master fiend
………………and rabble rouser—
…………………….homeless husband,
………………………………bubble buster,
………………saffron cockney on a Buddha barrow,
………………mighty long-armed-dharma duster-upper!

………………Damn, I say, let him
………………rest upon his lusty laurel laughter—
………………toast, and share it!

……………………………………………………..Christopher Woodman, 12/31/2010

______________________

 

Flatbush Bill is another Scarriet survivor.  Author of its all time most popular threads, Pop Goes the Weasel and Ich Weiss Nicht,  he was formerly a welfare activist, choirmaster, and leading member of the NY Tibet Society.  He is now a priest in Mexico and the poet’s severest critic.

In Southeast Asia, the Buddhist faithful, mainly mothers, get up very early every morning to cook special meals for the monks who file by the house barefoot at 6am on their daily alms round. The women fill the bowls and then kneel down for a blessing. No word is spoken during the whole exchange, and nobody serves what is more is served.

Wat Phra Singh is one of the most active and beautiful Buddhist Temples in the North of Thailand.

………THE COMMENTS THAT FOLLOW DEVELOP THE THREAD

“START A SCHOOL OR SHUT UP?” ~ IS THIS HARRIETGATE?

Eileen Myles is educating Harriet right up to her last post! [CLICK HERE]

Yesterday we showed you how she blogged just how tiring blogging really is, a genius idea — and sure enough, the dutiful Harriet community took her literally and criticized her for doing exactly what she was trying to do, and doing so brilliantly. Today she’s on a bit further even than that, criticizing our eating habits, and sure enough, the posters are all taking it as a personal disorder not worth thinking about instead, of course, of sex. Oh dear.

A mole passed on to us this annotated typescript that was smuggled out of the Chicago office. It certainly helps to understand how the minds of the staff as opposed to the posters at Harriet work, and why Eileen’s pearls are such bitter pills to the swine! (Chaque à son gout, as the French say — i.e. if you shack up with a pig you get gout.)

YOGA PHONE BURT

EILEEN MYLES: Harriet Blogger Par Excellence!

We’re hard on Harriet — I mean, we got treated pretty shabbily! But there are a whole lot of people there we’d stand up for wherever, and I mean stand up for and fight!

And one of them is Eileen Myles, who is actually past her expiry date on Harriet and still blogging, hurrah! And the interesting thing about Eileen, of course, is that she always gets everything that matters right were it belongs, down on the bottom line. Like? Yeah, you guessed it. Apartments!

So this is a little thanks to Eileen from the denizens of Scarriet, who got such a lot from her, and want to sit down and talk with her about it a little bit more.

Eileen Site Grab
http://www.eileenmyles.com

Like this, hot in the old e-mail tray from you know whom:

“The only other thing i wanted to say, but thought i wouldn’t as it is one of those things like ‘racism’ sexcism, this ism that ism – basically, not focus soley on the actress. Mainly because chicks make us with dicks, often idiots drooling, so the best would be to cut her, she’s had the welcome, now bat on as usual, according all bores at the previous dump, equal showtime. ~ Des.”

And by contrast, look what Gary Fitzgerald replies to Eileen on Harriet: “Way past time to get over yourself, isn’t it, Myles?”

What I mean by this is why do you have to wear your homosexuality on your sleeve like it’s…I don’t know…the Medal of Honor or a big red ‘A’ or something? What do these personal details contribute to poetry, after all? I think most people are sick and tired of this ‘us and them’ bullshit: gay and straight, black and white, liberal and conservative, rich and poor, cool and uncool. Why would any poet want to compartmentalize and limit themselves like that? ‘Gay’ poet, ‘Feminist poet’, ‘Latino’ poet, ‘Political’ poet. Can’t we just be poets? Jeez, get over it.
POSTED BY: GARY B. FITZGERALD ON OCTOBER 4, 2009 AT 4:43 PM

So what do you think? Did we go over the top with Amber Tamblyn? And what do you think about the Barbie School of poetry? Does Jorie Graham’s hair matter, like in contrast, say, to Eileen’s? And do you think this will get discussed on Harriet?

A BURNING QUESTION FOR THE WORLD AND THE POETRY FOUNDATION TOO

Filipinos jpeg

So here’s a really big one, Barbara Jane Reyes. Isn’t the looseness in the creative souls of your Filipino poets, the flexibility, the disorder even in their language, isn’t that actually an advantage? And don’t they get that freedom precisely by being part of a marginalized, deracinated culture? Isn’t that their big reward as artists?

When you’re shut out, can’t you also feel liberated by not having to make sense in the eyes of the establishment? Can’t you even survive better by realizing you’re your own Cirque Soleil, and the sky is your tent and anything you say way up on a very high, and very shaky, high high wire?

Like Cockney humor when London was such a God-awful place to be a worker, or Puerto Rican street talk when so-called ‘Latinos’ were just a Westside Story? Or Gypsies anywhere in Europe, even now, or the really great Yiddish in the Ghetto. None of those people wanted to be understood, their language was their hidden treasure!

And isn’t the creative nonsense-genius you get in English from Latinos, Cockneys and Filipinos just the opposite of Flarf, for example, or Stephen Burt’s  ‘New Thing,’ both of which are so studiously the product of too much money, too much leisure, too much education, too much self-regard, and cultural cabin fever?

I hope you’ve had a chance to read Thomas Brady’s two essays on the Not A Radical Treatise thread (click here, and here). Isn’t the role of what he calls “Limits” applicable to all ‘overly-racinated’ cultures, not just mainstream American poetry — bound feet in China, for example, what a heart-breaking limit that was? And if you begin to feel too privileged with Franchisement, might you not begin to affect Disenfranchisement today, pretend to be a Revolutionary, and start another very self-conscious, very rarefied, very hard to understand and therefore very deep New Movement? (I almost said “fake” there, but the tragedy, of course, is self-delusion. Yes, it’s “new” alright,  but so what? The question is, is it genuine? Does it have any genuine human value?)

And the real thing, the diamond, Desmond Swords, isn’t he just the opposite of a Stephen Burt? I hope you’ve read Desmond too — he writes about his struggle as a working class Irish poet to get accepted by the British blog establishment (click here). He also reflects specifically on his experiences on Blog:Harriet  (click here)  and goes international on the Guardian Blog — quite a read, including the flabbergasted responses!

So what do you think it did to Desmond’s voice when he found out it was just being read as “blather,” Or getting booted off The Poetry Foundation’s site for that matter? How much pleasure did that give him do you think? How high did that make him fly?

Or even in a tiny little way, the three of us here on Scarriet, Tom, Des and myself, uprooted from Harriet and cast adrift by The Poetry Foundation of America? Aren’t we sort of lucky?

Christopher Woodman

COMMUNICATIONS AND MISCOMMUNICATIONS

Barabara Jane Reyes

Click here to read the rest of this Harriet article by Barbara Jane Reyes.

Dear Barbara Jane Reyes,

Thank you for this rich and well-written article. I have lived in South East Asia for 15 years, and have travelled widely in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia, my immediate neighbors — but never in Burma. (Aung San Su Kyi has asked me not to support the junta with my tourist dollars, and I’d do anything for her!) I haven’t managed Vietnam yet either, but there’s no doubt in my mind that I will find there one of the most vibrant, life-affirming cultures in the world. I also have no doubt that Vietnam will soon be the leader in continental SE Asia, and I don’t mean just economically either. I mean intellectually, artistically, and above all in the quality of life.

Having said all that, I have a strange confession to make: I’ve never been there but I still like the Philippines the best — just based on the people I’ve met from there all over the world, in America, in Asia, on ferries, in diners, students, bar girls, nannies, doctors, NGOs, roustabouts, one Shakespearean actor and even one Blue Grass guitarist! And yes, I’ve found a beauty, vibrancy, and sense of personal freedom in people of Philippino origin that’s quite unique. And the extraordiary thing is that the qualities I so admire seem to be in each and every one of them without exception regardless of their citizenship, education, or station in life.

And I love especially their wonderful kitsch, their glamor and mixing up of media, metaphors, metatarsals, moxies, munchies and feathers. I was brought up in New England and was taught there was such a thing as ‘Good Taste’ that ‘Everybody’ knew — well, that’s completely gone in me now, washed away with my Puritan birthright, thank God. Now I want fairy lights with everything, jingle bells on my hairpiece and funny little pandas on my desk and all over my altar. Indeed, what fills me with wonder is the genius of Filipinos wherever they live to make everything that glitters pure gold — and here’s your article and I can say, yes, including what I was also brought up to call ‘our’ English language. And now I just say PPPLEASE!

This is a wonderful poet, R. Zamora Linmark — how I wish Tom, Desmond and myself were there on Harriet to join you in the discussion.  And the whole topic of “communications and miscommunications” — truly wonderful.

But don’t worry, even though we’re not there we’re still following on Scarriet. So stay tuned here too!

Christopher Woodman