Hello vast emptiness,
I am sitting here in a rocking chair, on the porch of a blog cabin, overlooking a sloping field of snow. I am now officially a contributing writer for Harriet. What this means specifically is that I’ve been given the keys to a cabin on the Poetry Foundation’s sprawling estate. I’m supposed to come up here and hang out a few times a month. I haven’t met Harriet yet, but her place sure is swell: refurbished floorboards with wide, red oak planks, a sofa made out of books, and a series of gigantic enlarged fingerprints in fancy frames on the wall. “Harriet, are those your snowflakes?” I whisper towards the ceiling. Harriet does not reply. Perhaps I will hide in the closet and see if I can catch a glimpse of her.
Books, Crooks, and Automobiles:
A book I re-read recently that still enchants is The Balloonists by Eula Biss, (Hanging Loose, 2002). The book, blurring the line in a good way between poetry and memoir, happens in a series of well-crafted, non-linear fragments. The diction is simple and crisp, the details are acute, as metaphors slowly assemble, cloud-like, creating a melancholic atmosphere. There’s a wonderful tension between the emotionally charged subject matter (the dissolution of her parents’ marriage) and the objective (almost scientific) tone. It is a delicious little book. I have read it in several undergrad classes, and the students really responded. Many poets approach the subject of family, but few do so in such an original manner, and with such psychological clarity. Remarkably Biss wrote the manuscript as a senior thesis at Hampshire College, when she was in her early 20s.
Top 5 Reasons For Not Going To AWP This Year
5. My English Department is still pissed about the extravagant “dining” receipts I submitted after last year’s conference for reimbursement
4. My panel, “Transgressive Poets and the Pronouns that Love Them” was rejected
3. Afraid of running into the person I drunkenly kissed in the bathroom at one of those fake VIP parties last year
2. I am more than just the letters on my nametag
1. Bought my tickets on Jet Blue in October and couldn’t return them
Jeffrey McDaniel is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Chapel of Inadvertent Joy (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013). Other books include The Endarkenment (Pittsburgh, 2008), The Splinter Factory (Manic D, 2002), The Forgiveness Parade (Manic D Press, 1998), and Alibi School (Manic D, 1995). His poems have...