I come to your table and tell you that this week’s newsletter will be tapas style. You ask if it if going to be in a Catalan, Valencian or Galician style — because these are what you would expect when your waiter says such things. You’re a little surprised, it wasn’t a tapas bar last week. No, I explain, it’s the same kind of thing as before (tasty morsels, badly described), but what we serve comes out in whatever order, size and heat the chef feels up to at that moment because he’s dreadfully unorganised. You sigh because, well, it’s late anyway, so you might as well have something of a newsletter.
A slightly unshared poem by Kaveh Akbar from earlier in the year (with thanks to Ben Read): I Wouldn’t Even Know What To Do With A Third Chance is a poem about the graceful losing grace, it contains the assumption of having had grace to start with and knowing its shape at all.
Of course it has those lines that sing like bells in your brain: “A failure of courage is still a victory of safety” and those lines given two meanings by being split — the food and watering the dead, then transforming that in to orchids. Which is a sign of the ritual we use poetry for, to say that watering the orchids at night is the same as tending to our dead or to our grief. We create power with language, in a shape and full of grace and then transpose it into a living action so we may carry it out into our lives.
The third chance is meaningless because we are always taking a chance by creating an idea with language and then slipping it into the mud of reality so we can feel it beyond the page. The fall from grace is essential as it is what lets us live in the real world, rough shaped and grazed.
I quite like second person narratives, and if you do too I suggest you let others know here. It’s the natural addressing tone of poetry, so for me it’s got its obvious strengths — confessional and confiding, direct. It is the way we tell stories anyway, to someone, to a reader, even if we’re not addressing them. Think of those Lorrie Moore stories we looked at — the lightness that can be had by bringing the “you” into the narrative. The unnamed other that is important enough to be a “you” that provides some kind of voyeuristic pleasure while being able to obscure the truth of a story. The you is a little camouflage which the truth of a work can be interestingly obscured by.
I enjoy the swirl of images, the repetition, and the normalcy of it. There’s humanity and warmth in its distractedness; “The person she is talking to isn’t paying attention” and “He looks like other people look” put us no closer to the grit of the scene but place us entirely within its feeling. There’s a fun juxtaposition that waltzes back and forth of the sublime idea of heavy clouds, then only being able to see gathering dust — despite trusting that there are heavy clouds — and then that all dust is just people swelling together into sublime heavy clouds.
This week’s songs are Graceless by The National
“I’m trying, but I’ve gone
Through the glass again
Just come and find me
God loves everybody, don’t remind me”
And Lua by Bright Eyes
“And I know you have a heavy heart
I can feel it when we kiss
So many men stronger than me
Have thrown their backs out trying to live”
I found a poet at my new job. There’s always at least one. She runs most of it on instagram under the excellent handle @itcouldbeverse
I come back three times while you’re eating to ask if you’re food is well while chewing on very nice poetry that was very well cooked actually but impossibly badly described. You’re happy to have eaten and then it’s impossible to get my attention to pay the bill. I seem to be shutting the restaurant. You’re polite and wait, but when I switch off the light and you hear the back door being unlocked you finally say something about how weird it’s been. As a way of excusing myself I say that I have been writing a lot of poetry recently, and that’s very distracting. Of course there was never going to be a bill, I am not sure what you were waiting for.