Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret
among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture Marly Youmans is a novelist and poet out of sync with the times
but in tune with the ages. --First Things

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dawg poems


Addendum: I hereby clarify (nod to Gary) that I am not particularly serious in this post--in fact, that I am silly with a dash of seriousness. I would be a great fool (and perhaps I am, but for other reasons!) if I did not realize how much of the world (literary and otherwise) runs and what it values. And I would be an unhappy person if I could not deal with such things! Good cheer to you, whether you read Yeats or McKuen or nothing at all in the way of poetry.

Quiz: There is a follow-up to the your-adjective-here New York Times Bestseller, I Could Pee on This. It is unusual to have poetry sell so well, so very well. Which is the correct response to this curious situation?
  • a. Little Old Proverb Woman's This too shall pass
  • b. Gandalf in angelic defender mode: You shall not pass! 
  • c. Keats, writing on water, saying, "A thing of beauty is a joy for ever: /  Its loveliness increases; it will never / Pass into nothingness; but still will keep / A bower quiet for us, and a sleep / Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing."
  • d. Doggone. 
  • e. "Life is thickly sown with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to pass quickly through them" (Voltaire.) 
  • f. "What is a poet? An unhappy person who conceals profound anguish in his heart but whose lips are so formed that as sighs and cries pass over them they sound like beautiful music." --Soren Kierkegaard 
  • g.  Emerson's "A man is a god in ruins." 
  • h.  Henry Ward Beecher's "The dog is the god of frolic." 
  • i.  Compare and contrast Yeats and the dog as poets if you want to pass freshman English!
  • j.  Some mysterious combination of letters, as, f., i., and g. This spells fig, a fact that is not very interesting in light of the book. However, I like figs.
  • k.  Some not-mysterious combination of letters.
  • l.  "I could pee on this." Twice.
  • m. none of the above, not ever, no time!
  • n.  Face it, poetry has gone to the dogs.. :) Whee--
  • o.  all of the above
  • p.  "A dog eats no beets." --from Diogenes, who learned a lot on his famous quest to find an honest man, lighting his lantern in the day and sleeping like a happy Greek pickle in a big Athenian pottery jar at night. (Later on he was captured by pirates.)

5 comments:

  1. Marly,

    Are we upset that it exists at all?

    Are we upset that it is a "best seller?"

    Are we jealous of its success despite its (mostly) lack of redeeming artistic value?

    Are we angry that some may have to have a discussion of its redeeming value at all?

    Are we not cognizant of the fact that such trade "humor" pieces, calendars, pens, bookmarks, and other "book related" stuff is the highest margin stuff at independent bookstores and likely keeps them in business (and able to sell the good books).

    My recommendations, not that anyone asked, are to do one or more of the following:

    1. More or less ignore this stuff.

    2. Much like some good Hollywood filmmakers, alternate between the lesser-selling "art" projects and the "populist" stuff - the latter funding the former (usually) with an occasional breakout of an art piece to the masses

    3. Totally focus on new ways of bringing your books, the better ones, to a wider audience. And don't spend useless energy worrying about dog poetry and bad human poetry.

    4. Thank goodness there are newer ways to go directly to your readers. And use them!

    Have a great day,

    Gary

    ReplyDelete
  2. Gary the ingenious,

    I am not the least bit upset. This is the Way of the World! I'd have to have lived in a far corner of the multiverse not to know it...

    And I don't believe I've been jealous of anybody's success, either, even when it was success for something I didn't care for. You can't persist if you are jealous--at least you can't persist well! And only through persistence can you become more than you were in the arts.

    In the world but not of the world is my motto, but I am not a bit adverse to teasing the world for what it is. Really, I could not resist a tweak or two!

    ReplyDelete
  3. p. s. If we couldn't pay attention to silly eruptions in the world of books, blogs about words and literature might just be unbearably serious!

    But good advice, all the same, Mr. Gary...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dawgs

    (Athens, GA, 2005)

    Guzzling margaritas as they rip out the breasts
    Of char-broiled birds, these Joe Montana wannabees
    Wag about their pug-nosed angels, the tutelary
    Spirits of this mutt-enchanted town. You can feel
    Their hot, panting tongues dangle
    Through the rain-fat clouds, drooling on the crowd
    As they recall the time UGA I pissed on the Seminole's
    Flaming spear or the time coach kicked UGA II
    And the god of bulldogs cursed the team with a losing
    Season. Above, the clouds thicken as Brunswick
    Stew is served to Go-Go dancers and micro-chip snake oil
    Pushers and Presbyterian Fascists---all on this
    Green sward of the four-on-the-floor academy. When the clouds
    Finally break wind and the sticky rhetoric
    Resumes beneath the rapturous tent, you can hear overhead
    As the latest to achieve apotheosis chomps fleas and slurps
    The only balls that count.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Lance, did you write that back in 2005, or were you inspired by the dog poets? Great wild response to the post: the Real Dawgs!

    ReplyDelete

Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.