Poetry Month and the Holy Trinity of Aggregate Ass

April 3, 2014 • Culture

Editor’s Note: Seeing as it is April, National Poetry Month, we thought it would be timely to introduce you to our favorite poets by way of our favorite troublemaker, Cassandra Gillig. She has thrown together Drake & Frank O’Hara among other fine adventures in her time as the feral child of the poetry scene, and she has lots to teach us about butt kissing and the brilliant babes you should be reading right now. Enjoy.

The author before butt touching.

A poet, before butt touching.

Being a poet doesn’t get you money or fame, but you do get to touch a lot of breasts, drink fine wine, and say insane things to people you don’t know.  Sometimes you get to take off all of your clothes and look an old white man in the eye.  Have you ever looked an old white man in the eye?  That is how to feel power in this terrifying country.  Other times, the poets!!!!! They get to touch another breast or maybe cup an ass.  I’m not a rich woman, but I have cupped a few ass cheeks as a result of my sweet verse and I now know that wealth can be measured in the heft of the aggregate ass you have held, not the dollars in your bank.  I have a flavor of freedom you cannot taste.

A lot of people don’t realize that there are still poets & some people don’t know where to look for them.  If you’re looking for poets in magazines or bookshelves at larger bookstores, odds are that you are missing out on the best poetry being written, mostly because–like with all art forms–the mainstream area of things is full of a lot of bullshit & careerist asshats & people who have ass-kissed their way into darling status.  Again, I love butts as much as anyone, but I am interested in the authenticity of giving that butt a lil kiss.  Poetry has problems like any other arts community but we are just always drunk & touching butts maybe too much even to notice.  We can’t fear anything but the booty.

That all said, the idea of what the poetry canon will look like in fifty years is an actually exciting prospect.  Everything is changing for poets right now.  Small poetry presses & poets whose work would have at one point been deemed “experimental,” now carry a much more dedicated & somewhat larger fan base than poets whose work appears from boring university presses & “established institutions.”  There are hundreds of readings each week in New York alone.  Some freaks just flew me to Zurich to write poems on the walls of a gallery.  Poetry is hot right now & also insane & the ever-widening definition of what it is & can be is fostering terrifying brilliance. Let us discuss the current brilliance.

Dorothea Lasky is one of my favorite poets & has been since I was a baby.  It is an exciting time to follow Dorothea because she has a book forthcoming from a Norton imprint.  This means that the “experimental” poets have smacked the big bad bald man who puts out the Norton anthology of poetry (something that feels like a big shit god took on the world) straight across the face. If you had to read the Norton for an Intro to Poetry course at any point you are, I’m sure, familiar with the way it feels like being tethered to a country of death.  It is the old ball & chain.  Anyway, Dorothea, who once wrote, “Poets should get back to saying crazy shit. / All the time,” is always delivering on that promise.  But it’s not necessarily crazy shit always, sometimes it is just real shit. She is like Sappho. Have you ever read Sappho?  Sappho is too real.  The realest poet of all time. Sappho knew that her own life or the lives around her–the lived experience of things–was integral in processing things which seemed so distant…trees, and bridges, and pecans, and disembodied ass cheeks.  Dorothea works with this same type of wonder and exploration.

A new poem of hers appeared the other week.  It’s about being Eddie Murphy, but even more so, it is about the way we treat people when we let ourselves step away from the role of the human being.  It’s also about big dicks & Italia.  Dorothea has 3 collections of poetry out from a really fantastic small press called Wave Books which is only “small” because it’s not a hulking presence in libraries or well stocked in Barnes & Noble.  Wave also publishes the poets CACONRAD & Eileen Myles, two of the most gorgeous people in the world & 2 more of my favorite poets.

Trisha Low's "The Compleat Purge" is available via Emily Books.

Trisha Low’s “The Compleat Purge” is available via Emily Books.

Trisha Low is a GENIUS & I say this with the most sincerity possible.  Trisha grapples with pop culture and the human experience in a way that feels infinitely relatable and almost detached from the implications of using pop culture so widely.  It’s all rooted and suspended in the gore of youth.  Trisha loves the chaos of vulnerability, too.  Trisha’s writing and self are both hot.  I mean hot in every possible way. Glitzy in some ways, not just sexy or alluring.  All poets r hot, really.  I love being friends w poets on Facebook because I can just go look at pictures of them endlessly… such endless beauty.  Poets are automatically beautiful.  After you write your first poem, God looks at you from the clouds and says “nice” and gives you an otherworldly glow because you are a bard communicating from the heavens now.  A+, bard!

Anyway. Trisha has a new book called The Compleat Purge that is so exciting for so many reasons.  There are these contrasting ideas of what it means to be “honest” in poetry.  One is born of the sexy Sylvia Plath tradition called “confessionalism,” right?  Where you’re crafting a portrait of yourself secretly.  Another is evolving from a more recent movement called “new narrative,” where you aren’t confessing rather carving out a space for yourself in the history of the world–being an advocate of the preservation of your own life.  You are not shying away from your importance.  I feel Trisha’s work bridges the gap between these two methods of presenting the self.  It plays with the coyness or secretive aspects of confessional writing while saying that “her” (the narrator of these pieces) life matters.

The last thing I am going to talk about in this Holy Trinity of Thank You God is a press co-run by my dear friend Dana Ward.  Dana is one of my favorite living poets and runs this press with the artist Paul Coors (another too sweet genius) called Perfect Lovers that has been publishing INCREDIBLE $5 small books (in the poetry world we call tinier books chapbooks) by some of my favorite writers.  At $5 it is OK to take a risk on any writer (right?), but specifically the chapbooks by Anna Vitale, Leopoldine Core, Susan Landers, & Debbie Hu are among the best things I’ve ever read.

Anna is a wonder and hers is a kind of teary yet confident stomp through the work of Joy Division.  Leopoldine is a too wise poet, writing with an envious type of dutiful honesty and enough self-assurance in her narrative voices that she makes simple gestures seem grand.  Susan Landers is just fucking cool,  with totally brilliant humor and envious juxtaposition skills and an ambitious project with repurposing tweets/the medium of twitter in a way that isn’t gimmicky.

Go buy all their books!! And who knows, perhaps there may be future installments of this if anyone cares. You should care!!! For poetry~~ america~~ life~~

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