Okay, I thought, enough negativity for a while.
What can I post about with a positive attitude?
Then I thought, hmmmm, an interesting exercise might be “If I were poetry editor of THE NEW YORKER…
First thing that came to mind was Paul Violi’s latest book, OVERNIGHT, from Hanging Loose.
I included poems by Paul in that anthology I edited back in the mid-1970s, NONE OF THE ABOVE, and have been digging his work since I first read it c.1970.
He may well be the only poet I know who can write impeccably formulated “academic” or “traditional-form” poetry—as well as create original and totally unique new forms—but with a humorous twist so finely calibrated, you’re, or I’m, laughing out loud before I realize what he’s just pulled off.
His craft is unequaled, yet his sense of more-than-irony, closer-to-satire, or almost-farce, infuses every poem with never-before-seen, or even possibly thought of, takes on the common foibles of daily life and present day reality.
If I were its poetry editor, every copy of THE NEW YORKER would have a Paul Violi poem in it, to give that magazine’s readers some relief from the tone of taking oneself too seriously that permeates so much else in the magazine—particularly a lot of the poetry—with the exception of the occasional “Shouts & Murmurs” that works.
I wish I could cite an example, but I’d have to quote an entire poem to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.
Okay, I’ll quote a third of a poem, a new form I’ve never seen before called “FINISH THESE SENTENCES”—(and might I say that the resolution of this poem makes the ending exponentially funnier than any of these earlier lines, so you must check it out to see for yourself)…
So: “Finish These Sentences”
“The qualities I look for in a subordinate are
“A situation in which humor might be most unwelcome is
“After considering which is better, to be wealthy or wise
“My greatest sense of personal fulfillment depends on
“It’s one thing to champion a sticky empiricism
But it’s another altogether different thing to
“I think of myself as a caring professional who as the days
And nights tumble by like woozy pandas trying to achieve
A position conducive to procreation
“She had an accent that turned eyes to ice, heart
to hard, and transubstantiation to”
Okay, it’s difficult to convey how funny those lines became and those that followed even more so as I lay in bed reading before falling asleep after a day of difficult decisions and ongoing problems and more of the same on the next day’s agenda, but, at least for me, this poem, and others totally unlike it, or any others, snapped some lock in my brain open and the kid and the “scholar” were set free to dance me to sleep to the rhythm of my own laughter.