RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition who publishes zines & physical books & electronic books & music & photography & digital art & just generally whatever feels necessary to survive this deluded earth thru Rojonekku Word Fighting Arts survival systems (Version 69, establish 14 Feb 1973). Comments encouraged.

Wednesday, January 20

2016 Royal Poetry Rumble: The First Part


You can read the previous entry for an explanation of this. Just click the Royal Poetry Rumble tag at the bottom of the post. I guess I could’ve linked it but fuck man, I hate doing shit. We will have three head-to-head matches today, randomly drawn from the field of 30.

#30: Lucie Brock-Broido (represented by Dove Interrupted) vs. Angie Estes (repped by Rhapsody)

Lucie Brock-Broido was one of the finalists for the Kingsley Tuft award, and Angie Estes was the winner, so perhaps this first poetry rumble is secretly a GRUDGE MATCH!
Dove Interrupted comes strong with the second line:
Arguably still squabbling about the word inarguably.
But then it gets kinda weird in a too obvious way.
I was made American. You must consider this. 
Whatever suffering is insufferable is punishable by perishable.
That’s kinda lolol to me, and then she brings back in “inarguably” again before
I miss your heart, my heart.
I don’t know, I probably don’t get poetry. BUT I AM A HUMAN BEING WITH LANGUAGE AS A MAJOR FORCE IN MY LIFE. THIS MEANS I INNATELY GET POETRY. Thus, this poem doesn’t get me.
Then Angie Estes storms out, listing a bunch of birds in a way that sounds poetic as my brain speaks the sounds, and I can’t even bother to quote it because you might read with your brain with a different accent. And actually if we just leave it to stupid poetic highspots that make me gawk, Estes kinda locks it up with “chief of bone”, and I am leaning that way, before the finisher:
amid the chatter 
and flutter of well-coiffed 
words, the owl 
in the shagbark hickory, 
and all the attending dangers 
like physicians 
of the heard.
IMO, game over right there. But let’s see what the kvlt scholar’s opinion was…
THE KVLT SCHOLAR’S HANTEI: To the extent to which "Dove, Interrupted" even attempts to participate in a weirdo mediævalism I support it but I do not know that I am able to champion it beyond that; ok yeah "Rhapsody" kills it dead probably without even caring by invoking the barred owl's who-cooks-for-you/who-cooks-for-you-all which is an essential component of birdcræft. It didn't even need to have a part about St. Teresa at the end *but then it did.* WINNER: "Rhapsody"
Thus, eliminated at #30: LUCIE BROCK-BROIDO

#29: Laura Kasischke (repped by The Pain) vs. Terrance Hayes (repped by Derrick Poem [The Lost World])

Laura Kasischke was another Kingsley Tuft finalist, though not winner. Terrance Hayes made the National Book Award for poetry short list, though did not win.
Kasischke’s The Pain is short and fast, but it speaks too heavy-handed for my brain of religious shit, and parents, and the author cries about her dad, and I am perhaps too alpha and perhaps have too much penis but it does not strike me as I would want a poem to strike me. It is predictable, and though not bad (I guess), nothing I would ever want to revisit again.
Derrick Poem is just a blubbering mess of non-word symbols whenever possible (ampersands and dollar signs galore), and mentions of sneakers and basketball and it runs on like stream of conscious memories, and because this is how my brain does work, and the author has dissed his friend Derrick, abandoning their friendship for a white girl, and this obviously has stuck with the author, and it makes me think about Derrick. Like what the fuck is he doing now? What is going on with Derrick? I’d take this Derrick Poem and probably a couple more poems about Derrick before ever wanting to go back to Kasischke’s pain again, but…
THE KVLT SCHOLAR’S HANTEI: I really think "The Pain" is maybe a first-rate poem about mothers and fathers and the literal emotional impossibility of being a kid and we should check again in like thirty years to see (lol I wrote "fifty" first but we'll be so dead then); I hate "Derrick Poem (The Lost World)" four lines in because I don't give the slightest fvkk about fancy sneakers but I will finish it out of loyalty to you and your vision and to a lesser extent out of my loyalty to poesy/its viewless wings; ok I finished it and while it may very well contain profound truths about Amerikkka I don't care about Amerikkka very much (with apologies, not to Amerikkka so much as to this poem) which limits this for me. WINNER: "The Pain"
Eliminated at #29: TERRANCE HAYES

#28: Marilyn Hacker (repped by Pantoum) vs. Alan Shapiro (repped by Vantage)

Hacker was a National Book Award for Poetry longlister, and Shapiro was a finalist but not winner for the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
In Hacker’s poem’s first stanza, even though it is about freedom (which seems played to me), I really want to like it, except she closes that opening stanza with the fourth line:
When I began to write the story I started bleeding.
Had a tough time wanting to digest anything further than that, as I disliked the taste of that line, so I jumped ahead to Vantage.
And this Vantage is just moss thick nonsense gibberish (yet beautiful) about looking up at a tree, light shining through, thick ass tree as thick as the ass of a Colombian woman, and there are a lot of enjoyable phrases, and he closes with the vicious closed fist:
and the very dirt becomes the dirt of it.
Solid as fuck; so much so I begrudgingly force myself to read the rest of Pantoum, but there is absolutely nothing in the rest of it that counters the strong style of Vantage, although Hacker does drop, “Wrestling with the rudiments of grammar,” in the last stanze, but it is not enough, not nearly enough.
THE KVLT SCHOLAR’S HANTEI: Because "Pantoum" is serious about form it should be taken seriously from the outset and even if it wasn't it still has things in it that are important to think about but would they seem so if freed from the tender tyranny of formal constraint? This idiot (me) thinks maybe not, which is a compelling argument in favour of the rigours of form. Oh shit ok I thought that was gonna be a pretty easy win over whatever came next but "Vantage" is a *legit* tree poem and I just bought a whole anthology of tree poesy from a shelf at the used bookstore marked "trees" and when I brought it and also several books about how to identify different types of trees up to the counter the old man who runs the bookstore said "looks like somebody found the tree shelf" and then he told me how he used a copy of one of the tree guides I was buying ("Fifty Trees of Canada") to do a project for school when he was eight. WINNER: "Vantage"
So finally in today’s installment, eliminated at #28: MARILYN HACKER

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