Saturday, April 19, 2014

National Poetry Month: A.E. Stallings

"Triolet on a Line Apocryphally Attributed to Martin Luther"
(A.E. Stallings)

Why should the Devil get all the good tunes,
The booze and the neon and Saturday night,
The swaying in darkness, the lovers like spoons?
Why should the Devil get all the good tunes?
Does he hum them to while away the sad afternoons
And the long, lonesome Sundays? Or sing them for spite?
Why should the Devil get all the good tunes,
The booze and the neon and Saturday night?

"Triolet on a Line Apocryphally Attributed to Martin Luther" by A.E. Stallings appeared in the April 2005 issue of Poetry. Her new verse translation of Lucretius is The Nature of Things. In a 2011 interview the poet explained her interest in the classics: " ... the classical authors were so contemporary—they were writing about contemporary situations, which, frankly, haven’t changed that much.   They seemed fresher and more modern than most of the contemporary poetry I was reading in journals in the late eighties and early nineties.  It was a revelation, for instance, that a poet like Catullus was writing about contemporary (and raunchy) things in contemporary Latin diction, but in tight, elegant metrical forms.  One shouldn’t confuse fusty, schoolmastery Victorian translation with the direct electrical jolt of the originals ... I grew up in Atlanta—well, the area around Emory was a suburb of Atlanta when I was growing up, but now is practically intown ...  My father taught at Georgia State University and my mother was a school librarian.... I took a scholarship to the University of Georgia in Athens GA, where I eventually found a home in the warm and welcoming Classics Department, then chaired by Richard LaFleur." Her three collections are Archaic Smile (1999), Hapax (2006), and Olives (2012).

Friday, April 18, 2014

National Poetry Month: Harry Matthews

 Meeting of the Oulipo in Boulogne.

 "Shore Leave"
(Harry Matthews)
All roads lead to good intentions;
East is east and west is west and God disposes;
Time and tide in a storm.
All roads, sailor’s delight.
(Many are called, sailors take warning:
All roads wait for no man.)
All roads are soon parted.
East is east and west is west: twice shy.
Time and tide bury their dead.
A rolling stone, sailor’s delight.
“Any port”—sailor take warning:
All roads are another man’s poison.

All roads take the hindmost,
East is east and west is west and few are
Time and tide are soon parted,
The devil takes sailor’s delight.
Once burned, sailors take warning:
All roads bury their dead.

"Shore Leave" by Harry Mathews is an example of “perverbs,” the result obtained by combining proverb phrases in Oulipan poetry. From a recent post online at The Paris Review: The word perverb was invented by Paris Review editor Maxine Groffsky to describe the result obtained by crossing proverbs. If we join the first part of “All roads lead to Rome” to the second part of “A rolling stone gathers no moss,” we obtain the perverb “All roads gather no moss.” The remaining parts yield a second perverb, “A rolling stone leads to Rome.”

Thursday, April 17, 2014

National Poetry Month: Lisa Mende

Lisa Mende

Marriage ruined my marriage he said as he plopped down
      on the seat next to mine
It snowed every night on the sheets of our bed have I met
      you before what's your name what's your sign
I'm a thinker a feeler a lover of beauty a needer of 
      moments unplanned
matrimony's a stealer it turns lust to duty and makes men
      like me feel unmanned
I admit I'm confused do you find that endearing I'm so
      easily hurt and I'm shy
I'm not scared of committing I believe in forever do you
      believe in a love at first sight
I was so unprepared when I saw you here sitting like a
      vision all bathed in white light
Marriage ruined my marriage let me buy you another why
      do romance and passion go south?
Boredom's what I disparage need a muse not a mother and
      you've got such a kissable mouth
Are your eyes really green they light up when you smile
      you're a gypsy you know that? you are
Are you bored or serene let's commune for a while what a
     mystery to find you alone in this bar
I take credit for little I'm abounding in blessing every
     move has been spiritually guided
Karma's smack in the middle so I've stopped second
     guessing because my future's already decided
I eat all my food raw and I'm chiefly a Buddhist and I
     guess my worst feature is pride
I do yoga I chant and was briefly a nudist and I'm very
     in touch with my feminine side
I have known you forever there's a deep soul connection
     don't you feel it don't fight it it's real
Every movement you make is a subtle reflection that 
     you're feeling the same things that I feel
It's a marriage of convenience we're both well aware, she
     was pregnant and I did what was right
So for us there's a lenience and I take special care 
     to tell her if I'm not coming home for the night
Tell me all about you I can tell you're artistic it's the 
    way that you dress you've got style and panache
I was once that way too but then I got realistic cut my hair
    traded stocks now I'm dripping with cash
Are you leaving don't go yet I've just gotten started it's
    early and I need your email address
Now I'm grieving we've just met and now we'll be parted I
   am dying to feel just a single caress
Put your money away there is no way you're paying I can
   write it all off for my taxes you know
Come on honey please stay what's this game you are playing 
    sit back down now you know that you don't want to go
Hey another for me you can pour her drink out I decided
    that she was too bitchy to stay
She just wasn't that hot got a million like her she can go
   fuck herself and she's probably gay.

"Poem" by Lisa Mende originally appeared online at the Word of Mouth website, March 2010. Word of Mouth is an open-mic poetry event held the first Wednesday of every month in Athens, Georgia. [Photo by Michelle Castleberry]