While being educated upon literature, one of the most marvelous assignments I received was to conduct a close reading of a poem of my choosing. Though 99 percent of the people who associate themselves with literature nowadays probably perceive poems as mere documents that they’re coerced to comment upon in workshop, I am mesmerized by beatific poems, and I believe each one necessitates thoughtful evaluation. After all, when you see a beautiful look by, say, Calvin Klein, you shouldn’t just mumble “Nice job, Calvin” and then zip right along to the next one — that’s inconsideration. What everyone should do is concentrate on the look exclusively in order to notice the particular shade of grey and the way in which the squiggly white stripes contrast those of the grey ones.
The same should be so for a poem.
The poem I selected to do my close reading with was Charles Churchill’s night. An 18-century poet who didn’t like gay people, Charles is often ignored, while poets like putrid pragmatist Alexander Pope are emphasized. But, really, Charles needs ten times the heed of Alexander, as Charles is ten times as terrific as Alexander.
For Charles, the greater public views the daytime as the place of hardworking humans and the nighttime as the space of a sordid species. But in his poem, Night, Charles says that daytime is much more foul than nighttime. Using heroic couplets, Charles explains why the daytime is contemptuous, calling its denizens “slaves to business, bodies without soul.” In contrast to the spiritless stupids, those who wander in the night have an “active mind” and enjoy “a humble, happier state.” Near the end Charles states, “What calls us guilty, cannot make us so.” While I concur with Charles that just because the 99 percent say it’s true doesn’t make it true, I don’t agree that the nighttime is so wonderful, as gay people go out at night a ton, and gay people aren’t a thinking bunch.
But Charles’s poem is still bold, bellicose, and abrasive, and all of those traits are laudatory, and, through my close reading, I became much better acquainted with them.
Also disseminating a decided amount of close reading are the baby despots of Bambi Muse. Baby Adolf did one on Emily’s “Presentiment,” Baby Marie-Antoinette did one about Edna’s “Second Fig,” and Baby Joseph did one concerning William’s [“so much depends”].
Close readings appear to be very vogue. So, having already summed up a close reading of a boy poet, I will presently present a close reading of a girl poet.
Once on a day not too long ago (though not too recent either) I met up with Baby Marie-Antoinentte. The second Bambi Muse baby despot, Baby Marie-Antoinette acquired remarkable notoriety for her “Dear White Race” letter, published in the spring of this year. But, obviously, Baby Marie-Antoinette has monstrous more going for her than just internet fame. Soon, Baby Marie-Antoinette will be the queen of France. Her reign will coincide with the French Revolution, that disgraceful period when the Third Estate (know as “the middle class” in America) will degrade, divide, and, in some cases, behead Baby Marie-Antoinette’s adored family.
Our meeting place was a charming diner on the Upper East Side. In an old-fashioned red-and-white striped booth, I took sips of a Sprite while Baby Marie-Antoinette nibbled on a piece of positively sweet cherry pie.
Having turned down a tsunami of interview requests, I asked her politely if I could publish our chat as an interview. After pondering the possibility with her mommy, Empress Maria Theresa, Baby Marie-Antoinette agreed, as I am, after all, Bambi Muse‘s CEO (and, also, the Empress received final approval).
Me (M): Hi…
Baby Marie-Antoinette (BMA): Hullo…
M: Your cherry pie looks very sweet and yummy.
BMA: It is, just like Tinker Bell, Ariel, and Miley Cyrus.
M: Oh, a lot of people are saying mean things about all three of those girls.
BMA: Yeah, but America is governed by the 99 percent, and they’re average, so they hate specialness, whether it’s a special fairy, a special mermaid, or a special actress/singer.
M: There was tons of scorn slung at Miley’s VMA performance last Sunday.
BMA: Yeah, the 99 percent was very mean about that, but I wasn’t. Miley acted like a re re. And re re’s are magical, like bruises or something.
M: I have a bruise on my knee from getting tripped up on a sidewalk on Broad Street.
BMA: What were you doing on Broad Street?
M: Screaming curses at investment bankers.
M: What is your perspective on capitalism?
BMA: I, too, champion inequality, exploitation, a class system, and so on. But none of those things should be based on money. Anyone can get that. The world should be based on something that’s not so darn indiscreet, like pretty dresses or poems.
M: Can you elaborate please?
BMA: Only chosen creatures can deck a pretty dress decorously, and, likewise, only chosen creatures can compose a captivating poem.
M: Who can compose a captivating poem?
BMA: Baby Ji Yoon can. And so can Baby Carina. They’re both re re’s. One of Baby Carina’s poems is titled CARIO, Y R U SO CRUELLL xXxX. As for Baby Ji Yoon, she says, “my bellybuttons are very impressionable.”
M: Uh-huh, they do sound like lovely and splendid special-ed girls.
BMA: There’s also this girl called Lauren Shufran. Many of her poems are metered. She also made up a word, “Turdecken,” a combination of turkey, duck, and chicken. Normal people don’t know how to count syllables or come up with their own vocabulary. They’re too laid back and communicative; for example, Cate Marvin.
M: The VIDA girl?
BMA: Ugh… VIDA.
M: Do you abhor that advocacy group?
BMA: You bet I do. What consequence is it if Ploughshares publishes 14.759837422222222 percent more boys than girls? They’re all average, interchangeable poets anyways. VIDA doesn’t care if a poem is illuminating; for them, it’s just accessibility and equality. And that’s not poetry, that’s Park Slope lesbian self-esteem talk. Actual poetry is very discriminative and strict. Sylvia is — she killed her daddy and her husband.
M: Tyrants are violent too.
BMA: Yeah, they’re decidedly diehard. It’s delightful. I hope that Syrian boy wins. Americans should stop bombing other countries and mind their own business. Nobody wants to be a democracy, it’s so gross, like pecking the cheeks of Lloyd Blankfein, Ben Bernanke, and Timmy Geithner one directly after another.
BMA: We should do something pretty now.
M: Maybe we could quietly sing that song.
BMA: That song?