Friday, December 12, 2014

Best Poems of 1999

Amrita ….. “This morning he left as”
Suzanne R. Bowers ….. Please Don’t Wake the Dog
Cumberland Sound Eskimo song ….. Shaman’s Song
John Hollander ….. Beach Whispers
a Hopi song ….. Hopi Virgins Seduced
Langston Hughes ….. Dream Variations
Langston Hughes ….. Hope
Issa ….. four haiku
Avedik Issahakian ….. I Can See Them
Ki no Tsurayuki ….. “On a spring hillside”
from a Kinaalda Racing Song (Navajo) ….. “The breeze coming from her as she runs”
Latvian folk poem ….. “I lost / my mother”
Li Pai (Li Po) …. Pulling a Lotus Flower as a Present
Li Pai (Li Po) ….. The Sound of a Flute Coming from Yellow Crane Tower
a Mide song ….. “In the middle of the sea”
Lin Pu ….. Written While Viewing the River in Autumn
NYC Dept of Health ….. from a partial list of animals banned as pets …
Hamo Sahian ….. Unhappiness
D. A. Powell ….. [between Scott’s asshole and his mouth …]
from the Prakrit ….. 245: “He stood at her door”
from the Prakrit ….. 221: “Her back bears the prints”
from the Prakrit ….. 173: “Lovers should be gentle always”
from the Prakrit ….. 30: “The flood trembles like a woman”
from the Prakrit ….. “the sky has fallen”
from the Prakrit ….. 158: “Though the entire village burned down”
Gertrude Stein ….. Careless Water
Gertrude Stein ….. A Feather
Gertrude Stein ….. Sugar
Su Tung-p’o …. Held Up by Head Winds on the Tz’u-h-chia (#1 of 5)
Arthur Sze ….. from Before Completion: #1
Arthur Sze ….. from Before Completion: #2
Arthur Sze ….. The Silence
from the Rig Veda ….. Creation Hymn
Will Walker ….. Jesus Saith unto Them, Loose him, and let him go
Wang Wei ….. Arriving at Ba Gorge in the Morning
Yamaguchi Seishi ….. one haiku
Natan Zach ….. Here They Come

By 1999 I had been hand copying poems for a personal anthology for ten years. I’d pretty much met my goals for the project — learn what I liked, push myself to learn from what I liked, figure out why I didn’t like stuff, and get comfortable with having my own opinion. I don’t feel defensive about my quirky likes and dislikes, but part of that is because I continue to be open. I don’t say I don’t like that sort of thing and stay away from it. I stay open to every sort of thing, even if, by experience, I’ve found things I like more often here than there.

I like careful description, for instance. I like wild metaphors. I like playful language and language play. I prefer to be told strange things over expected things. I have a sympathy for awkward language and uncertainty. I am less interested in the authoritative voice — although I do like it when it is used subversively. I like humor. I like exaggeration. I like wild claims. I like melancholy. I like a certain amount of bitchiness. I like learning to like something I didn’t like at first. I like immediately connecting, but also want a distant sputter in the line. I like beauty but think ugliness can be beautiful. I like it when the poem says Yes! and No? — No! and Yes? I like liking something and spending time liking it. I like being done with disliking.

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