The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

August § The Common Test / 2016-02-16 21:04:46
Robin § Unforgotten / 2016-01-08 21:19:16
MsFitNZ § Towards A Theory of Secondary Literacy / 2015-11-03 21:23:21
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 18:39:56
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 16:32:50
Matt § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-05 01:49:12
Greg Linch § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 18:05:52
Robin § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 05:11:02
P. Renaud § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 04:13:09
Jay H § Matching cuts / 2014-10-02 02:41:13

Haiku-muezzins at dawn
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Poetry!

Have you seen the Poetry Foundation’s Poetry Tool? Do we have Ruth Lilly’s gift to thank for this? It’s totally awesome: poetry-as-database. Now I want a poetry API. I want poetry data viz.

The tool brought me to some terrific stuff. I love the opening of this poem from Anne Waldman

I was living in San Francisco
My heart was in Manhattan
It made no sense, no reference point
Hearing the sad horns at night,
fragile evocations of female stuff
The 3 tones (the last most resonant)
were like warnings, haiku-muezzins at dawn
The call came in the afternoon
“Frank, is that really you?”

…mostly just for “haiku-muezzins,” which is so, so correct. What kind of brain comes up with haiku-muezzins? Amazing.

I liked this one by August Kleinzahler, too, which is fully continuous and heavily enjambed and therefore unblockquotable. The language is just terrific, though, and Kleinzahler uses the construction “the world entire,” as in:

Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.

Is there a name for that? The little reversal—”the world entire”? It’s one of my favorite things.

I read Nicholson Baker’s The Anthologist recently, which is (on the surface) all about poetry, and I absolutely 100% loved it. I wish there existed the technology to do a quick brain-link so you could feel how much I loved this book. Some things worth noting:

  • It’s very short; you could read it in an evening. I think it would work great on the Kindle, too.
  • Baker’s voice is just something else. I’m a real sucker for this—a strong fluent first-person voice—and his is the best, the most immediately winning, I’ve read in a long time.
  • (Actually: in parts, it reads like a book narrated by Tim.)
  • You actually learn a lot about poetry! At least I did. I guess I didn’t know much to start with, so there was significant upside potential.
  • The Anthologist is part of the 2010 Tournament of Books! Get a head start! Or something?

If we here at Snarkmarket had a vast endowment supplied by some rich heiress, I would name Nicholson Baker our poet laureate, and I would pay him handsomely to write a post or so every week.

4 comments

Come back from San Francisco /
It can’t be all that pretty /
When all of New York City /
Misses you

–Magnetic Fields

Also, the Elsevier review on Amazon describes the narrator of Baker’s book as “a study in failure, at a very dark time in his life,” stuck with credit card debt and writer’s block — so yes, it does sound Simply. Too. Much. Like. Me.

If Apple’s cribbing from my public life, then Baker’s all up on my private one. But alas, here is where I am by all accounts the least original.

Oh bah. That reviewer must not have finished the book.

And I was thinking more of the narrator’s erudition, playful mix of high & low, ease w/ explanation & discursive wit.

P.S.: It’s called “anastrophe,” or sometimes just “poetic inversion.”

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