June 2, 2009 Racer

Greetings, earthlings.

Forgive my 2-week absence. Things happened; mistakes were made.

Listen, if I said we were going to read a poet whom critic Adam Kirsch has called “the best American poet writing today,” who is a winner of the LA Times Book Prize, who counts among his admirers Billy Collins and Paul Muldoon, who has been a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist, and who just celebrated the publication of hisCollected Poems, 1959-2009, you’d probably think, “Oh, goody, a familiar name!”, right? Well, you tell me: Frederick Seidel.

Right?

As you all know I treat myself to one new book  of poetry a year (sad, in its way, but true). Not having the $40 for the collected poems in cloth, I went with 2006’s Ooga Booga, the title of which jokingly refers to his reputation as scary, dark, menacing, a sophisticated poet of our emotional underbellies. Or really, his emotional underbelly. Oh and literal underbellies, too. The man likes his sex. The tone of the poems I’ve read so far is invitingly personal and astringently ironic. His other choices–diction (pretty erudite), rhythm, form, length, rhyme–are all pretty “normal” for a dude writing essentially realist, lyric poetry in the second half of the American 20th Century. And something about my mindset draws me to his ouevre, which I’m glad to have just discovered. Watch (listen) how a strange lack of punctuation–coupled perhaps with the time-bending properties of mid-day alcohol consumption–here maintains his illusion of zealous, reckless speed. -ed.




RACER

for Paolo Ciabatti


I spend most of my time not dying.
That’s what living is for.
I climb on a motorcycle.
I climb on a cloud and rain.
I climb on a woman I love.
I repeat my themes.

Here I am in Bologna again.
Here I go again.
Here I go again, getting happier and happier.
I climb on a log
Torpedoing toward the falls.
Basically, it sticks out of me.

The F-16s take off in a deafening flock,
Shattering the runway at the airbase at Cervia.
They roar across horizontally
And suddenly go straight up,
And then they lean backwards and level off
And are gone till lunchtime and surprisingly wine.

-2006

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