Archive for March 2nd, 2011

Another reason why poetry today has a bad name

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011
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Lawrence Ferlinghetti‘s latest is for the birds. It’s in the San Francisco Chronicle here.

On the printed page, the lines are indented inward, on each successive line, for no apparent reason except to give the visual appearance of poetic form. (The Chronicle routinely screws up online lineation.)

It opens:  A cock cried out in my sleep

Even forgiving the double entendre, which I will mercifully assume is unintentional, I wonder when is the last time Ferlinghetti saw an actual, non-figurative cock in downtown San Francisco.  (Example for city-dwellers, see right.)

Basically, this United Colors of Benetton poem is in support of smiling niceness.  The politics are safe and clichéd, the term “Third World” in itself has become something of a cliché. It’s hard to believe we’ve come so far from Allen Ginsberg and “Howl.”

Where are the editors?  This is an appalling lapse of judgment.

Ferlinghetti, San Francisco’s first poet laureate, is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Letters.

And happy 200th birthday, Chopin!

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011
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In the celebratory brouhaha over Richard Wilbur‘s 90th birthday yesterday, I neglected another important nativity — the 200th anniversary of Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin, who was born in Żelazowa Wola, Poland in 1811. My longstanding fondness is something I blushed to confess in Poland — where it’s somewhat akin to an American announcing John Philip Sousa as a favorite composer. Chopin, whose name was Frenchified to Frédéric François, is a national institution, and therefore a little kitschy among the intelligentsia.

This very languorous Venetian piece of music is my personal favorite. Enjoy Claudio Arrau‘s perfect rendition, and celebrate with me one day late. After all, what’s a day in two centuries?