Anyhoo—I have a huge number of things that have to get written, mostly for editors who offer me far more affection than I deserve considering my general tardiness with assignments—so of course I spend the day immersed in two books that 1) I’m not slated to review and 2) are not related to my dissertation. And then I saw Hedda Gabbler starring Mary Louise Parker and Peter Stormare (he’s the guy who puts Steve Buscemi in the woodchipper in Fargo). But whatevs, y’all are here for the poetry talk (and now I’m just boasting).
So I won’t talk about the book on disability studies—though I have to say that I’m finding it really quite compelling. Did you know that Alexander Graham Bell was so concerned about deaf people having sex and making deaf babies that he gave a whole speech about the problem in 1883? I know! It’s like, seriously, just because deaf people can’t use telephones, they have to be sterilized?
The second book is Great Expectations, which I haven’t been able to put down. I always thought that I hated Dickens (apparently Dickens fans universally acknowledge that Tale of Two Cities is a terrible book), but it’s fantastic. And it also seems related, to the current crop of stories today about adolescents being charged with sexting. Why do we persist in using the word “children” to refer to adolescents? Just seems to muddy the waters.
OK, so a quick note on poetry. I’m spending some time with Robert Penn Warren. I feel a personal connection because my Mom used to play with his dog when William Meredith was dogsitting for him. And I’m reading his two poem cycles “Audobon: A Vision” and “Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce, Who Called Themselves the Nimipu, “The Real People”: A Poem” side by side. And the first seems like a revelation. It’s from 1969, and it’s majestic and haunting and spooky. The second feels flat and halting (it’s from 1982). The first is like vortex, and the second a failed collage. I’m trying to figure it out. I hope to have thoughts on this for next week. But it is reminding me of how wonderful paperbacks are now and how awful they used to be.
And that makes four books of procrastination.