Posts Tagged 'poets'

Who’s the Greatest Living Poet?

The Greatest Living Poet

Always reluctant to snark another poet (see recent post), this time it couldn’t be helped! This guy (not Lemmy), who bills himself as the Greatest Living Poet, boasts the following revelation on his website: “At the year 2001 (sic) I made the observation that powerful poetry no longer exists in the West.” And a very powerful observation it was. Inspired by Ziggy Stardust–David Bowie’s early seventies alter ego–he decided to take up the mantle, as it were, as the Greatest Living Poet. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that this guy snarks himself so well that all commentary is superfluous. Read on: “I took the mask of a visitor from another planet. This poet did not write poetry like any other human then on the planet . Yet this persona wrote his poetry with the confidence and skill of a great poet. It was an outrageous experiment that had a perfect result.” Again, no quip could do justice to this brand of self-worship. And here’s what he has to say about Walt Whitman: “I am certain that when Whitman self- published Leaves of Grass he had in mind a project similar to mine – he too was a greatest living poet (small caps). ” Small caps!! For a while I thought to myself, What a perfect joke!  I should add, however, that this guy takes out an ad in every issue of the New York Review of Books. So, in a way, we must take him (ahum!) seriously, and look to the poetry for an answer. After all, perhaps he really is the greatest living poet, which would be seriously bad news for the rest of us. Judge for yourselves. I present the evidence.

from Daniel, Isaiah, Habbakuk

No longer keep me incantation,
flesh my seamless electron
antenna to all human screens.

Earth behind on math elevators,

light in my space ray, a steam on glass;
daily love soon forgot at the mechanic level;
paper money held till I squeezed the ink,


poem courtesy of the Greatest Living Poet (whatever be his name).

Who’s the Snark?

hunting the snarkEvery now and then I go and check out what’s new at Poetry Snark. The first time I stumbled into this blog I felt my blood begin to rise. All they seem to do is make fun of poets–serious, sincere, hard-working poets. They hold no punches. They are acerbic, clever, offensive, jerky, smirky, fresh and–at times–funny as hell. Which is not to say that I like them or would want my poetry snarked by them (then again…). But I have had a modest revelation thanks to their irreverence. I used to be a poetry snark, too. Deep down I still am, I suppose, because snarkiness never quite leaves you. Of course, I’ve realized that there are ways I prefer to use my energy other than snarking. The snark is always on the lookout for a bigger, more ruthless snark. A snark’s snark is far worse than his bite, because rule number one is that a snark is a frustrated critic. A critic is a frustrated artist, an artist is a frustrated human being and so on… When the snark begins to publish creative work he (or she) will often quit snarking, as snarking is usually a means to an end. So have no fear of the snark. There’s one lurking inside all of us somewhere. American Poets Abroad would like to offer a meek consolation to the snarked poet Samuel Menashe. We happen to think he’s a fine poet. And here’s hoping your poetry is good enough to get snarked!

The Shrine Whose Shape I Am

The shrine whose shape I am
Has a fringe of fire
Flames skirt my skin
There is no Jerusalem but this
Breathed in flesh by shameless love
Built high upon the tides of blood
I believe the Prophets and Blake
And like David I bless myself
With all my might
I know many hills were holy once
But now in the level lands to live
Zion ground down must become marrow
Thus in my bones I am the King’s son
And through death’s domain I go
Making my own procession

Samuel Menashe

Glatshteyn’s God

by ben shahn 


The inmost sense
of my sublimest words
turns my prayer imbecile.
Exalting You makes incense fill
the air with redolence
of idols.
I pray from a tongue-tied page
my woebegone God.

The least little flower
rejoices You more
than all six days
of Creation.
Evil’s inertia
brings You small care.
You lend us years
by the thousands,
then hide Your face.
The walls of our houses
drool gibberish.

We have yet to learn
the ABCs
of holiness.
How many myriad lives must we seize
before our thoughts can earn
even the footstool of Your favor.
I pray from a tongue-tied page
my woebegone God.

You do not terrify,
You have no malice.
Still You keep Your distance from us
who live in the profanation
of every moment.
The flash of eternity
in our nostrils
assures our ruin.
I pray from a tongue-tied page
my woebegone God.

Jacob Glatshteyn

Translated by Cynthia Ozick, from the Penguin Book of Modern Yiddish Verse.

Against Questioning

It’s not unprecedented to despair,
or even interesting. Who hasn’t mewled
his melancholy, yammered like a fool
pathetic in the street as children stared

and minutes passed and pensioners were kind,
or mumbled in some high place while the low
mean ground hissed invitations? But now grow
out of it and leave such selfish angst behind

to teenagers and the authentic crazed;
such comic desolation is too stark,
and there are optimistic married ways

of being happy that you could be trying.
So let it wait, the large outlandish dark.
It will be just as dark when you are dying.

Mike Stocks

Two Poems


A run-on sentence of winter
Split the evening days of coal the red
S-Bahn across the palimpsest city
Simply for something

Birds wet with snow with wings
The steel mouth shudders
Dim lamps, damp shivers
Had nothing to do with cold

Periodo di Chiusura

Out over
A quiet street
Shuttered against
August’s dull heavy heat
Trails of smoke
From far fields
Cloud-hidden stars
Not one light
The courtyards
Six years
To write

Rome 1999-2005

Alexander Booth

Waiting for the Muse

I am very imperfect.
I let everything go.
I leave loose ends flying,
and threads trailing below.

Computer precision
is a new acquisition.

Like Andersen’s princess
and enchanted swans,
I leave wings uncovered
and ovens turned on.

So without supervision,
I’m ripe for collision.

My bills still need paying.
Clothes are strewn on the floor
while I wait for creation
to burst through from the core

But I cannot envision
any other position.

Lenore Rosenberg

The (ex) New Yorker

saul steinbergWell, the world is large enough even for us. As we begin at the proverbial beginning, we take this opportunity to thank Martha’s Version for all their hard work and support in making all this possible. The blogosphere may not be as prestigious as the gilded pages of the New Yorker or Harper’s, but it can hold its own. And if you’ve ever aspired to publish in those places, you will have noticed the same names appearing month after month after month–genug! Enough, we say. Make room for us, too. We may never boast their readership, but we will not grow old and grey waiting for John Updike to keel over and leave his twenty lines to us greenhorns. So if you are a poet in exile you are welcome to send us some of your work. You will be happy that the New Yorker didn’t reject it.

Contrasting Views

"Literalism is a feature of boorish translators." Cicero "The clumsiest literal translation is a thousand times more useful than the prettiest paraphrase." Nabokov

The Faerie Queene

"John Ashbery said reading the Faerie Queene was like reading an endless beautiful comic strip." Kenneth Koch

Sigmund Freud

"Everywhere I go, I find a poet has been there before me."


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