I’ve read a few pieces by Megan Boyle and I found them to be funny and honest pieces of writing. I even enjoy reading them. Though, I don’t enjoy the writing as poetry and I don’t think I consider this poetry. I have the same feeling about Tao Lin’s “poetry.”
Their “poetry” seems more like confessional prose with line breaks and unrestrained “spur of the moment” thoughts, or automatic writing pulled out of one’s diary. There doesn’t seem to be any thought about the rhythmic and metrical aspects that the poets of the past participated. Are modern poets doing away with the form and the metrical and rhythmic aspects that used to be part of the art of poetry. Did Charles Bukowski change the way poets write?
Which brings me to a question – I’m not up to date on modern poets. With the exception of Bukowski – my range of poets ends with Hart Crane and Wallace Stevens.
Do Tao Lin and Megan Boyle represent modern poetry?
I like his shit, but fairly sure Bukowski didn’t change anything. Also to a snobby-hipster-lit-person- who’s-fave-contemporary-poet-is-charlie-sheen your use of “modern” might be unsettling, did you not get the we’re-post-that memo? D-baggery aside, he pleads douchbaggerly, they not represent contemporary poetry in as much as no two poets ever really can without imposed canonisation.
Hmm, after reading the book (and liking it), I had similar thoughts about calling this a poetry collection. It felt like the book was strongest when it was novelistic, i.e. written in scenes.
I disagree that the book is completely disengaged with poetic tradition tho. Rhythm and metre aside, there are techniques in the “unpublished blogposts” that seem “poetic”. Lines from one of my favourites, “03.03.09”:
i have jetlag but i haven’t been on an airplane in months
i want to be on an airplane
my life feels hopeless
I think that is a pretty good example of “thought in action”, a phrase I’ve seen in attempted definitions of poetry.
Or, in “10.12.09”:
near the end of the movie there was an image of a piece of fruit which would’ve seemed poignant if it wasn’t so obviously trying to be subtle and poignant
my mom said ‘did you see the orange? the orange in the tree?’
i said ‘yeah’
I admit I didn’t get this often going through “Selected”, but reading that reminded me of one of Berryman’s more popular Dream Songs:
moreover my mother told me as a boy
(repeatingly) ‘Ever to confess you’re bored
means you have no
Inner Resources.’ I conclude now I have no
inner resources, because I am heavy bored
Not saying literary references make “Selected” – or any other poetry collection – a more serious / worthwhile piece of work. Just that the book can be read as “literarily” as you want. It seems like the pieces themselves were edited and arranged pretty carefully. Ya, the “spur of the moment” thing is an important conceit – the speaker in the computer lab opening the blogger screen (there’s an interesting analogy here w/ confessional poets’ “arrival” at the lyric moment) – but that’s only one of many decisions made throughout.
That said, the pieces probably won’t win over anyone intent on disliking Megan Boyle / “the Muumuu aesthetic”. IMO though, haters of “the crew” are kind of missing out. I really enjoyed reading “Selected Unpublished Blog Posts of a Mexican Panda Express Employee.” There are some really good, – and real – moments in there.
I’m not using modern in the sense of “Modern” verse “Post modern”. I guess I mean poets that are relatively new voices. Poets that have had their first works published within the past 10 years.
When I’m talking about meter and form. I’m talking about devices of poetry that have separated poetry from prose. Scansion, Iambic pentameter, Caesuras, Trochaic substitution. Just an example: like separating music from rhythm, structures of harmony and melody turns it into noise – it’s these organizational properties that turn sound into music. Isn’t it the same with poetry? And if not what seperates prose from poetry? Simply a line break?
I agree with your praise of her writing. She entertains me, if nothing else. I’ve always felt like poetry is a metrical art form and I don’t see any conscious organization in her poetry that leads me to believe that she’s in command of her words as poetry.
Her writing is prose. Her prose can be art, they can be symbolic, they can use tropes that poets use, they can even be set with line breaks- But i don’t think of it as poetry without a conscious awareness of poetic organization. Even in the form of free verse there is still poetic organization.
Also, when I say “organization” I guess I’m thinking of craft. A poet skilled in the craft doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good poetry either.
modern poets have lost the ability to make air quotation marks with their fingers. for this, they keep groupies to hit the like button every time they recontextualize an emotion or a quotation or an etc. extra points are given if modern poets can do this without irony. modern poets can still laugh through their noses. and they can, surprisingly, give themselves the middle finger when they know they have cheated. this happens regularly. what this means is the best modern poets are the people you cross paths with on the street on the way to ichiban to pick up some udon.
[…] At the DC reading he said he thinks his publishers are playing a joke on him, making him read in rooms that are constantly getting smaller. That’s because the reading for the Three Tents series in DC is held in a small room. Coincidentally or not, in that room he read with Megan Boyle, whose book also just came out today (as Blake noted). […]
Well, what are the “metric” and “formal” coherences in Stevens’s lines? He uses line and (often) stanzaic breaks; what is “metric” about them? – and where, other than those printed breaks, are his “form[s]”? What makes Stevens’s groups of lines poems and not chopped-up prose?
if playing with expectations is part of writing new,
and free verse has dominated for the 20th century,
then it seems what’s left is to play with expectations
for what is a free verse and what is prose
Wallace Stevens was a master of rhythm. For example “Sunday Morning” The form is an 8 stanza, Blank Verse, in Iambic Pentameter. Rhythm has as much to do with the meaning of “Sunday Morning” as the words.
Megan Boyle drew me a picture of nachos on the inside of my book. I asked her what her favorite thing in the world was and she said, pizza. Then, she showed me a tattoo of the word, pizza on the inside of her lower lip. She hugged me. Later, while I was standing at the bar to get a drink and Megan was on her way outside to smoke, she high- fived me.
I like how you called him/her a snob. People seem to hate Bukowski and Kerouac, or hate their younger self who liked them. There was a cool post on html abt liking Jim morrison or something to this tune, a few months back.
Yes, Sunday Morning is almost all unrhymed iambic pentameters, as is most of The Idea of Order at Key West (another well-anthologized example). Here is the first tercet of another well-known ‘lyric’, and the first two tercets of a ‘lyric’ that starts with regular iambic tetrameters:
One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;
–or do you read this tercet by forcing the sense into stressed iambic tetrameters?
Young men go walking in the woods,
Hunting for the great ornament,
The pediment of appearance. [regular]
They hunt for a form which by its form alone,
Without diamond–blazons or flashing or
Chains of circumstance, [regularity gone, returns, goes]
Here are some lines from Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction in which iambic pentameter surfaces:
Perhaps there are moments of awakening,
Extreme, fortuitous, personal, in which
We more than awaken, sit on the edge of sleep,
As on an elevation, and behold
The academies like structures in a mist.
Here is a tercet from An Ordinary Evening in Hew Haven in which iambic pentameter almost surfaces:
The description that makes it divinity, still speech
As it touches the point of reverberation–not grim
Reality but reality grimly seen [. . . nah]
Stevens is somewhat iambic because English is somewhat iambic, and in most of his poems, iambic pentameters and tetrameters emerge as they might in speech–or prose.
Let me put the question this way: does Stevens’s writing, as most of his lines allow a minority of lines to emerge as metrically regular, go back and forth between poetry and non-poetry?
Megan Boyle has talent and wit, but I think some of the “hate” that comes her way is the realization that she limits her talent (and ambition) by choosing to belong to a “school” led by a talentless, brain dead hack who happens to also be her husband. I’m hoping she eventually realizes this before it’s too late.
I really enjoyed this book. There are definitely some pieces in it that I would call poetry and some that I would call essays. There are also some that I would call blog posts. It’s interesting to consider the blog post as a form of poetry. jeff noh mentioned ‘thought in action’ which I have thought about a lot of relation to these pieces.
I wonder what people would think of the book if it wasn’t labelled a book of poetry but instead a book of blog posts? I myself would like to see more books of blog posts. I think it could be an interesting form of biography, especially given that fact that books of letters will naturally be declining with the increase of digital communication
i am responding to the query of “what’s not to love” in Crit Hit‘s post. i have no opinion re: the work of luna miguel nor of her value as a human being, rather, i do have an opinion of bukowski. this opinion being: bukowski is retarded. because i hold this opinion, i find the idea of a bukowski tattoo hilarious.