New Releases from UWG English Faculty
Three UWG English faculty members have published four books in the last few months.
November of 2008 saw the release of Paul Guest’s My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge, published by Ecco. This collection includes two series of poems with titles that attest to their epistolary nature: “Airport Letter 1” and “Airport Letter 2,” along with three poems titled “Oblivion Letter Home” followed by numbers 1, 2 and 3. The “Audio Commentary Track” series imagines the conversation that might occur in the voiced-over writer or director commentaries of some badly conceived, badly executed movies. Guest’s third full-length poetry collection brought praise from such poetry luminaries as John Ashberry, Louise Glück, Jorie Graham, Robert Hass, Mary Karr, Campbell McGrath and Mark Strand, who provided comments for the book jacket.
In October 2008, Dr. Chad Davidson released his second poetry collection, entitled The Last Predicta. Referencing the “space-age” Predicta T.V. from the 50s and 60s, the poems cover such pop culture staples as gift-registration at “Target” and working out at “Gold’s Gym,” while poems such as “The Tiniest Green Hummingbird in the World” continue the sampling of creature poems scattered throughout Davidson’s first collection, Consolation Miracle. An Editor’s Selection in the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry, The Last Predicta is published by Southern Illinois University Press.
Dr. Gregory Fraser’s Answering the Ruins picks up where Strange Pietà left off, focusing on the after-effects of traumas, both personal and public. These poems explore the distances (literal and figurative, linguistic and silent) that threaten and obstruct human connections, while carefully admiring and celebrating those odd moments of successful connection. Answering the Ruins is published by Northwestern University Press.
Writing Poetry: Creative and Critical Approaches by Drs. Chad Davidson and Gregory Fraser explores hybrid strategies of teaching and learning the craft and art of poetry writing. This book is the third in Palgrave MacMillan’s Approaches to Writing series, interested in offering which is “user-friendly” manuals for creative-writing students who wish to develop their critical, historical, ideological and aesthetic awareness while learning strategies and practical exercises to initiate and continue the creative- writing process. This text highlights the relationship between the practice of creative writing and active reading/criticism of poetry.
Poetry Is Stupid
I was majoring in dendrology and girls,
failing both, so when my hated roommate
burst in from English class, slammed
down his book bag and declared, Poetry
is stupid—it does nothing for the world,
I knew I’d found my calling. One
look at his composition, scrawled in red
like a field at Maldon, I smirked and hit
the stacks, came back loaded down:
Milton, Dickinson, Auden, Rich.
He whined for days, calling the teacher
idiot, bitch, recounting his unbroken string
of high-school As. Où sont les neiges d’antan?
I despised his loafers, Izod shirts, smooth
persuasion of hair, and envied with a numbing
the queue of beauties he ushered in, cueing me,
with a nod, to beat it. I’d slump off
to the Student Center, pore through Howl,
Homeric Hymns, repeating the mantra
beneath my breath, Poetry is stupid . . .
Second term, I traded pinus nigra
for Robert Frost catalpa speciosa
for Sexton and Plath. And slowly, as middle
Pennsylvania thawed, the notebooks filled:
Tonight, I lose my birth weight in sweat
alone, sip the matter of my fall in rye,
chew the cattle’s flesh, spin like a spider
the lace of verse . . . Recitation
vexed the jerk—Cut that shit, he’d snap,
from his annexed two-thirds of our space.
Rumor has it he made a killing
in the dot-com boom. They say
he even clanged the bell one morning
at the stock exchange—gross tintinnabulations.
In my mind’s eye, though, I place him
in a smaller scene, purchasing a birthday
gift for his wife (the third). He browses
down the wrong aisle in a Barnes & Noble,
and spotting my name along one spine,
double-takes and says out loud: Hey,
I roomed with that hand-job freshman year.
Then he cracks the slender volume, peruses
till he finds the poem—this poem—dedicated
to none other than him: my adversary,
my antonym, my Unferth, my muse.
Dear Arrowhead water, dear feather boa, dear
and mother with the toddler and cartful of candles:
I wanted to tell you the sky swished open its doors
this morning, the whole shebang slid by on felt,
and I entered the mythic fires of stoicism,
bore my nakedness in the manner of Shackleton,
defiantly ignorant. For I know that Target,
like new pedagogies, loves the good good,
loves punishment somehow fulfilling
a niche audience. That’s me. I love to finger
the Milano-style whatnot, bend the necks
of five-headed floor lamps. Yes, I love you dearly,
dear church of the cherished storage bin,
dear Cheerios and the bowl to drown you in,
dear warehouse sky, dear reindeer aiming the
of your eyes at my impulse buys. Once, I shot a
in the desert, laid it down in the sand, and said
a small prayer to prayers of small sizes.
Years later, we navigated the marked-downs
and Doritos safe in their Mylar pillows,
thought we’d stripped ourselves clean
of desire’s burrs and foxtails, even as popcorn
promised low-sodium transubstantiation.
We were registering, the word itself green and
so aimed our fantastic machines at the crock
pot and bath rug, at the iPod snug in its skin.
We dressed ourselves in the warmth of a small
heater, fed the nuisance of class consciousness
little biscuits. How cloudless, how terrible and lucid
the distances we traveled for our dear wedding
dear, which my Italian friend uses in that foreign
as in, That pair of pants is too dear. And how dear,
the night, we thought, dearly beloved, outside the
the headlights of all those cars trained on us.