[ note: To follow is my friend Donald Dunbar’s take on poetry community’s loud and passionate (but empty?) retort to Mark Edmundson’s charge in Harper’s that Poetry is dead, blah, blah,… but first, here are my 2 cents on what, in the end, is Donald’s call to action (& nudity, too, I guess).
1) Donald’s much more polite, politic, subtle, extended and diplomatic than I’d present such viewpoints. Basically I think Donald’s saying that people should quite bitching and do something. Donald is also, I think, suggesting that academia (poetry anyways) is pretty much a lazy, turgid toad croaking in its safe ivory tower. READ MORE >
by Donald Dunbar
Fence Books, 2012
88 pages / $15.95 buy from Fence Books
1. The Table(s) of Contents might be my favorite part. Or maybe it’s the few pages after the Table(s) of Contents, the part where you realize that formally, Eyelid Lick is fucking everything else up.
2. Formally, I can only compare Eyelid Lick to A New Quarantine Will Take My Place. There aren’t “poems” and it doesn’t really have sections. There are regions of the book that are three to four pages long and that are like themselves, and not really like the rest of the book, but still more like the rest of the book, than writing that is in any other book.
3. Tonally, Eyelid Lick is all over the place. It can be funny or sad or violent or sincere or religious or irreligious, but it’s always dancing on emotions, linguistically and sonically engaging, and beautiful.
4. If the book has an analogue to doing drugs, it would alternate a different drug every 4-6 hours for 2-3 days in a row. In some respects this is exhausting, but at the same time, a really exciting and unique vacation from Contemporary American Poetry.
And in case I die, I paid one point two million
for this mausoleum, and you’re telling me
it’s only partially real? I paid a cool four
million for this airplane and you’re telling me
it’s an angel? I spent a week’s worth of food stamps
on a week’s worth of food and here we are:
shot to death in an electronics store? Smeared across
some new Iraqi highway? On the porch, electric green
from the reflected plants, imagining the blood clot
that stops the brain?
6. In real life, Donald Dunbar is one of the most generous and beautiful people that I know. He regularly cooks meals for friends. I have slept on his couch. I know lots of people who’ve slept on his couch. He would probably let me move in and build a blanketfort in his living room if I needed a place to live bad enough.
7. I want to say that maybe the exhaustion I felt when reading the book might translate into tedium for some people. Some people might also think that sleeping on someone’s couch is undignified and that no one over the age of 8 should have a blanketfort in the living room. But fuck those people. This book is for drinking three more PBRs, smoking a bowl, and waking up on a couch or in a blanketfort. This is not the kind of poetry that encourages taking a cab home early.
8. There’s something vital about Eyelid Lick and the way the book seems to want to be read wildly and to the point of exhaustion.
America, mute informant,
pulse of the goat, America,
the slowest surgery,
the flowering land of God,
I eat all your words
and turn your children into knives.
10. One of my favorite conversations that I’ve had with Donald Dunbar includes this bit of dialogue:
“Outside of Brooklyn, nobody fucks with poetry from Portland.”
“What about San Francisco?”
“Ok, yeah. San Francisco can fuck us, but only in our pee-holes.” READ MORE >
June 27th, 2013 / 11:18 am