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, February 22

2017 Royal Poetry Rumble: The Fifth Thing Of It


Here is your recap up to this point:
#30: Daniel Borzutzky (eliminated by Jennifer Moxley)
#29: Rita Dove (eliminated by Monica Youn)
#28: Donald Hall (eliminated by Peter Gizzi)
#27: Kevin Young (eliminated by Peter Balakian)
#26: Fred Moten (eliminated by Jennifer Moxley)
#25: Eva HD (eliminated by Monica Youn)
#24: Elizabeth Willis (eliminated by Allison Hedge Coke)
#23: Ross Gay (eliminated by Joy Harjo)
#22: Jennifer Moxley (eliminated by Jane Mead)
#21: Donika Kelly (eliminated by Jane Mead)
#20: Ed Roberson (eliminated by Diane Seuss)
#19: Peter Gizzi (eliminated by Joy Harjo)

#18: Jane Mead (represented by The Geese) vs. Norman Dubie (repped by Cantor, Frege & Gödel)

JANE MEAD HAS BEEN DRAWN AND ELIMINATED PEOPLE THE LAST TWO TIMES AND YET HERE SHE IS AGAIN. Also here is Norman Dubie, who makes his 2017 Royal Poetry Rumble debut as the winner of the Griffin Prize.
Mead has represented well enough, but this The Geese poem is a little too poem-y for my tastes. (I say this as a man who pulled over to gawk at flying geese formation this evening on way home from work.)
But fuck man, Dubie steps out the gate dropping shit like “the inert baritone of transfictional time” and it reminds me of spotfest indy wrestling where the crowd is a mark for itself and the wrestlers are actually the crowd but having trained to feel superior and everyone is a mark and they do their mark shit and everybody marks out together but none of it actually means a fucking thing at all. Sadly, the Norman Dubie poem does not even try to transcend this beginning. Ugh.
THE KVLT SCHOLAR’S HANTEI: A poem that offers worthy considerations of swole geese -- and, indeed, "the snowy fields over which the nuanced and muscular geese are calling, while time and the heart take measure" -- vs. a poem that says "the inert baritone of transfictional time" is a thunderous ippon of an elimination here, as decisive as has ever been or ever could be.   
WINNER: "The Geese"
Eliminado at #18 is Norman Dubie (and Jane Mead be dropping this bitch ass poets daily).

#17: Peter Balakian (repped by A Letter to Wallace Stevens) vs. Jay Hopler (repped by Outof These Wounds, The Moon Will Rise)

Balakian is back. Jay Hopler was National Book Award short-lister but not winner. Last poesy showdown left me wanting, so let us see if these two can salvage my hopes.
Balakian’s poem is another really poem-y poem, and perhaps I’m not in the right mind frame for this shit today.
[Insert 24 hour break, to refresh hope for poesy, but I don’t know man, these pretentious fuckers trying to ruin it, stay trying to ruin it.]
Haha, Jay Hopler writes “the neighborhood is lit” even though I take it out of context to make it read that. That’s good enough for me. Fuck these people.
THE KVLT SCHOLAR’S HANTEI: I am notoriously wild for the poesy of Wallace Stevens (ask anyone) and the one of his that I am getting weird on lately is "Asides on the Oboe," with its considerations of The Central Man (How was it then with the central man? Did weFind peace? We found the sum of men), but I am not at all sure I have gotten anywhere or can get anywhere with it but I am ok and it will be ok. I thought this poem, with its numbered sections, might make its way up to thirteen to mirror Stevens' number of ways of looking at a blackbird, but no. Have you read the earliest John Ashbury stuff? From before he could utterly obscure (not really a diss, he does work with it) and instead just wanted to Yung Wallace Stevens? The Mooring of Starting Out is the name of a collection of those poems. Anyway I am predisposed towards thinking about Wallace Stevens but I am not at all sure this poem helps with that (for me, hopefully it did for the poet, or else all is lost). "Out of These Wounds, The Moon Will Rise" never gets as good as its title really but man, what a title. 
WINNER: "Out of These Woulds, The Moon Will Rise" 
#16: Tyehimba Jess (repped by Hagar in the Wilderness) vs. Monica Youn (repped by IgnatzDomesticus)

Tyehimba Jess wont the Lannan Award last year. Please welcome him to our contest. Monica Youn has already been welcomed, but welcome her back.
I’ve been studying (meaning reading and then thinking about on the backburner of consciousness throughout the day) a lot of nature-based hadiths the past few days, so Jess’s poem speaks to me. I would say at this point in my life (I am 44) I am no longer a technical atheist and actually believe in a creator even if that means everything is composed of a creative energy and all the shit we see is made of that. Jess’s poem shares that sort of generous interpretation of what “God” means so I am cool with this poem, although I still have trouble really capitalizing “God” and never use that word for what I believe, only the creator, but in practice only capitalize Earth. That’s just where I am, and I am unapologetic about it but I also don’t plan on forcing that shit on anyone else; in fact I would prefer everyone else go away and let me listen to the crow sermons in peace.
I honestly have no fucking clue what is going in this Monica Youn poem, but I enjoy it nonetheless. In that sense I guess she is Matt Hardy (extending the wrestling metaphor of Royal Poetry Rumble).
THE KVLT SCHOLAR’S HANTEI: I want more poems to be ekphrastic poems and so "Hagar in the Wilderness" has me from the moment it tells me it is about carved marble but then it turns out to also be a Strong poem on a Strong theme and just top to bottom Strong. Ever since reading the King James front to back a while ago I am way in on bible stories in a much more serious way than ever before (I always liked them but not like now) but it doesn't even need any of that. This is the much discussed and rightly venerated intersection of real techniques + real emotion and I can do nothing other than hail it. "Ignatz Domesticus" is fine and the idea of "the forest bleeding into her waking life" is an intriguing one but there is no shame in this loss. 
WINNER: "Hagar in the Wilderness" 

Oh good, the kvlt scholar is not a god hater. Monica Youn put in a valiant effort in this thing, having her moments yes indeed (eliminating two others), but alas, she is eliminated herself at #16, and we have also whittled away half our field of 30.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I need to hit the library for some Monica Youn poetry books.