Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I Also Publish Under The Name 5th Grade Douchebag Press

When I was a little kid my mom said that if you felt like you needed a hug, if you were "hungry for love" you could say you were "lungry," which was to ask for it. I like the idea that a lung can hunger. I like vocality, sometimes I forget. I am a little weirded out that I was that tiny kid who said, "I'm lungry." And yes, my mother is a child pyschologist. And no, I did not say this to other kids on the playground.


I'm anxously awaiting the arrival of my Astronaut Icecream. I emailed the company this morning to give them my zipcode since I forgot to include it with my billing address. "Fingers crossed."

As the Ex-Managing editor, I still must encourage you not to forget about:

The 2007 Nightboat Poetry Prize
Judge: Terrance Hayes
Deadline: November 15, 2007

Nightboat Books invites emerging and established poets to submit to the 2007 Nightboat Poetry Prize, judged by Terrance Hayes. The winning poet receives 1,000, a standard royalty contract, and 10 free copies of the published book. Previous winners include Joshua Kryah's Glean (finalist for the 2007 Glasgow Prize for Emerging Writers), Juliet Patterson's The Truant Lover (finalist for a 2007 Lambda Literary Award), and Jonathan Weinert's In the Mode of Disappearance, chosen by Brenda Hillman (forthcoming in April 2008).

Guidelines: Visit
Questions: Email the editors at

You should submit, seriously. You'll rise like french cream.

So, right now this is my favorite Bishop poem. I'm a sucker for the duality between her personable mode of address and the utter loneliness and alienation that seeps into the overarching tone of her work. The unrest and sense of estrangement from the external world are palpable, yet not complacent or still, and the solitude she craves does not leave her stagnant. Re-read the lines about the kite string in the second stanza and the first sentence of the third stanza. See how the third stanze begins so firmly and then ends in a question? It's here for a moment where the language that was once personable turns in on itself- the dashes, question marks and exclamations all suddently seem self-directed, as though she has forgotten her reader in a spontaneous burst of enthusiasm for her own, solitary future. She invites us in to her lonely terrain but ultimately excludes us from her energized yet insular solitude. And then at the very end of the poem, after the two empty rooms she wants for herself, there is wave needing the kite:

The End Of March
For John Malcolm Brinnin and Bill Read: Duxbury

It was cold and windy, scarcely the day
to take a walk on that long beach
Everything was withdrawn as far as possible,
indrawn: the tide far out, the ocean shrunken,
seabirds in ones or twos.
The rackety, icy, offshore wind
numbed our faces on one side;
disrupted the formation
of a lone flight of Canada geese;
and blew back the low, inaudible rollers
in upright, steely mist.

The sky was darker than the water
--it was the color of mutton-fat jade.
Along the wet sand, in rubber boots, we followed
a track of big dog-prints (so big
they were more like lion-prints). Then we came on
lengths and lengths, endless, of wet white string,
looping up to the tide-line, down to the water,
over and over. Finally, they did end:
a thick white snarl, man-size, awash,
rising on every wave, a sodden ghost,
falling back, sodden, giving up the ghost...
A kite string?--But no kite.

I wanted to get as far as my proto-dream-house,
my crypto-dream-house, that crooked box
set up on pilings, shingled green,
a sort of artichoke of a house, but greener
(boiled with bicarbonate of soda?),
protected from spring tides by a palisade
of--are they railroad ties?
(Many things about this place are dubious.)
I'd like to retire there and do nothing,
or nothing much, forever, in two bare rooms:
look through binoculars, read boring books,
old, long, long books, and write down useless notes,
talk to myself, and, foggy days,
watch the droplets slipping, heavy with light.
At night, a grog a l'américaine.
I'd blaze it with a kitchen match
and lovely diaphanous blue flame
would waver, doubled in the window.
There must be a stove; there is a chimney,
askew, but braced with wires,
and electricity, possibly
--at least, at the back another wire
limply leashes the whole affair
to something off behind the dunes.
A light to read by--perfect! But--impossible.
And that day the wind was much too cold
even to get that far,
and of course the house was boarded up.

On the way back our faces froze on the other side.
The sun came out for just a minute.
For just a minute, set in their bezels of sand,
the drab, damp, scattered stones
were multi-colored,
and all those high enough threw out long shadows,
individual shadows, then pulled them in again.
They could have been teasing the lion sun,
except that now he was behind them
--a sun who'd walked the beach the last low tide,
making those big, majestic paw-prints,
who perhaps had batted a kite out of the sky to play with.



Ana Bozicevic-Bowling said...

You just know which word I plan to use all day Saturday...


Julia Cohen said...

I sure hope so, mamma.