I picked up Gordon Massman’s The Essential Numbers 1991-2008 at AWP. Nobody told me to; I didn’t know that Blake had said things about it. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. This is the most depraved-and-beautiful book of poems I’ve read maybe ever. I mean, Massman’s language forces me read every poem aloud (which is one of my gauges of good poetry); the sheer music of the language propels me down the page, and when I’ve finished every poem, I feel a little sick. I’m glad this book exists in the world. I’m not sure I’ll get through it. Here’s an interview.
In the chapter on capitalization in The Copyeditor’s Handbook–I was just forced to buy a new one because I spilled grouper juice all over my tried-and-true copy; I bought it at Borders for a big-chunk discount because Borders is hightailing it out of my town–so, in this new copy, under the heading “Personal Names and Titles,” is a debate about capitalization. For fuck’s sake, people. If bell hooks or k.d. lang want their names lowercased, what’s the problem? Well, according to Amy Einsohn, who feels like my bff some days, Bill Walsh says this:
Sure, before “k.d. lang” there was “e.e. cummings.” But, as most good dictionaries…and New York Times style recognize, these are logos. The names are K.D. Lang and E.E. Cummings. To bow to the artists’ lowercase demand…deprives readers of a crucial visual cue…
Ready to want to buy a book?
Read the poem on the back of Gordon Massman’s The Essential Numbers: 1991-2008, just out from Tarpaulin Sky Press:
I’ve been reading this for a couple weeks now, a few poems at a time, because it is so brutally right there and fucked and ready to fuck your head, it needs the slow imbibe, the good one. Where so much ‘poetry’ can be yadda, these are words saying something hard and loud, and meaning it.
Sampled from 18 years of Massman’s writing, poems all numbered for titles, all to the teeth.
I.e. here is the first full sentence of 1262:
Dear God: thank you for the physical beauty in the world, etc.
and get fucked.