What’s American About American Poetry?

By Joshua Clover b. 1962 Joshua Clover
They basically grow it out of sand.
This is a big help because otherwise it was getting pretty enigmatic.
Welcome to the desert of the real,
I am an ephemeral and not too discontented citizen.
I do not think the revolution is finished.
So during these years, I lived in a country where I was little known,
With the thunder of the Gods that protect the Icelandic tundra from advertising,
Great red gods, great yellow gods, great green gods, planted at the edges of the speculative tracks along which the mind speeds from one feeling to another, from one idea to its consequence
Past the proud apartment houses, fat as a fat money bag. I wish that I might stay in this pleasant, conventional city,
A placid form, a modest form, but one with a claim to pleasure,
And then vanish in the fogs of hypnoLondon.
All are in their proper place in these optical whispering-galleries,
The swan-winged horses of the skies with summer’s music in their manes,
The basic Los Angeles Dingbat,
A housewife in any neighborhood in any city in any part of Mexico on a Saturday night.
Every Sunday is too little Sunday,
A living grave, the true grave of the head.
In one shout desire rises and dies.
Composed while I was asleep on horseback
I drift, mainly I drift.

Joshua Clover, “What’s American About American Poetry?” from The Totality for Kids. Copyright © 2006 by Joshua Clover. Reprinted by permission of University of California Press.

Source: The Totality for Kids (University of California Press, 2006)

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Poet Joshua Clover b. 1962

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Language & Linguistics, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Cities & Urban Life

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

Poet, critic, and journalist Joshua Clover was born in 1962 in Berkeley, Calif. An alumnus of Boston University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Clover has published two volumes of poetry, Madonna anno domini (1997) and The Totality for Kids (2006). His poems have also appeared three times in Best American Poetry, and he has written two books of film and cultural criticism: The Matrix (2005) and 1989: Bob Dylan Didn’t Have This . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Language & Linguistics, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Cities & Urban Life

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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