Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mugged By Poetry - Introducing Poet Dorianne Laux

Oh, what a yummy, tasty treat y'all are in for today if you have not yet discovered the down-to-earth, gritty, delicious poetry of Dorianne Laux. She's my Whitman, my Eliot and my e e cummings all rolled into a 'knowing' woman's body and soul.

I first found her when I read the book she co-authored with Kim Addonizio, "The Poet's Companion" which is a jewel of a book. When I read her poem below, "Mugged By Poetry", I went out and bought a copy of Tony Hoagland's "Donkey Gospel" because I loved him, dear bloggers, I LOVED him and wanted to hug him for sending Ms. Laux that magnficient little chapbook made from his heart tied with the shoe laces. I wanted to BE her and have someone send ME such a heartfelt prize of a gift---more precious than diamonds is a gift from the heart like that----especially to a poet, a word collector, a person that most of the world does not understand OR appreciate---my truest treasures are my poet-friends. (My husband rolls his eyes when I say to him, "Can I read you this little poem?" And then he impatiently tolerates my reading of it and then I get mad and cry and he says, "You know I've NEVER liked poetry---except for your poems, that is...." ) But it's too late by then and I know that I have to call or email someone who "knows" what it's like to have a handful of words arranged a certain way touch your soul and thrill you from the top of your head all the way down to the tips of your red-painted toes.....

I boo-hooed the first time I read "Mugged By Poetry" by Ms. Laux. I was so envious of her for getting that little book, first, and secondly for having written MY poem---I have felt what she writes too many times to count when reading poetry!! When I read the poem I shake my head up and down like a fool and mouth the word YES over and over because I've experienced the same feelings she so eloquently writes about when reading other poems by other poets who inspire me. There always seems to be that one line that breaks your heart----and later there's the line that puts your heart back together again. (My tears are dripping onto Ms. Laux's books in my lap---)

I have some credit card debt. Not as much as most American's, I'm sure, but some. And 99% of it is from buying books, mostly poetry. I don't care. You can't take it with you when you go----I should get me one of those nice, square pieces of cardboard and a large magic marker (don't you word freaks out there like me just love that they're called 'magic' markers?) and make me a sign that says, "WILL WORK FOR POETRY" and stand on the side of a busy intersection at a stop light and hold out a plastic bucket like the firemen do when collecting for charity. "Coins for words! Coins for words! Dollars appreciated, too," I'd holler. Then I'd carry my ass straight to Books a Million and spend every damn cent on poetry books. Okay, I'm mind-tripping here. Let me get back to the subject at hand.....

In her book "What We Carry" the first poem is "Late October" and it's awesome. I couldn't find it on the web, so I'll be naughty and not type it all here but tease you into buying her book by sharing a few lines:

" . . . The moon was a white dinner plate

broken exactly in half. I saw myself as I was:

forty-one years old, standing on a slab

of cold concrete, a broom handle slipping

from my hands, my breasts bare, my hair

on end, afraid of what I might do next."

Okay, now carry yourself on to Amazon.com and buy the book because, trust me, all of the poems are awesome, brilliant, shimmering and just plain good.

I'm going to leave you with a brief bio of Ms. Laux and the title poem for you to savor. Support poets and poetry today. Go to your public library and bitch to the manager if they don't have current poets in the 811's. I do it often and I've noticed recently that they're buying more poetry books. Signing off affectionately, ~*~Marion~*~

Dorianne Laux

Dorianne Laux was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her fourth book of poems, Facts about the Moon (W.W. Norton, 2007), is the recipient of the Oregon Book Award and was short-listed for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. Laux is also author of Awake (Eastern Washington, 2007, rpt.), What We Carry (BOA, 1994), Smoke (BOA, 2000), and Superman: The Chapbook (Red Dragonfly Press, 2008).

Mugged By Poetry

—for Tony Hoagland who sent me a handmade chapbook made from old postcards called OMIGOD POETRY with a whale breaching off the coast of New Jersey and seven of his favorite poems by various authors typed up, taped on, and tied together with a broken shoelace.

Reading a good one makes me love the one who wrote it,

as well as the animal or element or planet or person

the poet wrote the poem for. I end up like I always do,

flat on my back like a drunk in the grass, loving the world.

Like right now, I'm reading a poem called "Summer"

by John Ashbery whose poems I never much cared for,

and suddenly, in the dead of winter, "There is that sound

like the wind/Forgetting in the branches that means

something/Nobody can translate..." I fall in love

with that line, can actually hear it (not the line

but the wind) and it's summer again and I forget

I don't like John Ashbery poems. So I light a cigarette

and read another by Zbigniew Herbert, a poet

I've always admired but haven't read enough of, called

"To Marcus Aurelius" that begins "Good night Marcus

put out the light/and shut the book For overhead/is raised

a gold alarm of stars..." First of all I suddenly love

anyone with the name Zbigniew. Second of all I love

anyone who speaks in all sincerity to the dead

and by doing so brings that personage back to life,

plunging a hand through the past to flip off the light.

The astral physics of it just floors me. Third of all

is that "gold alarm of stars..." By now I'm a goner,

and even though I have to get up tomorrow at 6 am

I forge ahead and read "God's Justice" by Anne Carson,

another whose poems I'm not overly fond of

but don't actively disdain. I keep reading one line

over and over, hovering above it like a bird on a wire

spying on the dragonfly with "turquoise dots all down its back

like Lauren Bacall". Like Lauren Bacall!! Well hell,

I could do this all night. I could be in love like this

for the rest of my life, with everything in the expanding

universe and whatever else might be beyond it

that we can't grind a lens big enough to see. I light up

another smoke, maybe the one that will kill me,

and go outside to listen to the moon scalding the iced trees.

What, I ask you, will become of me?


Linda S. Socha said...

I love your posts. I relate Marion

Kelly said...

You know, Marion... some of these poets should just hire you as their PR. I guarantee you'd be worth every penny!!!

Between you, Quid and my sis I'm really getting to be a poetry connoisseur! Later I'm going to post some Haiku I tried my hand at and I'm waiting for a couple of poetry books to arrive from Amazon by authors you recommended to me awhile back. Details to come!

Marion said...

Oh, I can't wait, Kelly! I love haiku, too. I wrote a whole book of it before I knew the 5-7-5 rule. I said, "Screw it, it's MY haiku!" LOL! Don't be fenced in by "forms". I can't wait to read what you write.