KingsleyAmis1.jpeg Hangover.jpeg

In his review of the Kingsley Amis compendium “Everyday Drinking,” Dwight Garner recounts the elder Amis' cure for the “metaphysical” hangover:

“Amis recommended, among other things, a course of 'hangover reading,' one that “rests on the principle that you must feel worse emotionally before you start to feel better. A good cry is the initial aim.'
Thus he suggested beginning with Milton — 'My own choice would tend to include the final scene of ‘Paradise Lost,’ ' he wrote, 'with what is probably the most poignant moment in all our literature coming at lines 624-6' — before running through Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Eric Ambler and, finally, a poulticelike application of light comedies by P. G. Wodehouse and Peter De Vries.”

All good suggestions, of course, but instead of leaving the poetry behind at Milton, I wonder if anyone has any ideas on the proper lineated treatment for the post-bender spiritual malaise?

Originally Published: June 4th, 2008

Travis Nichols is the author of two books of poetry: Iowa (2010, Letter Machine Editions) and See Me Improving (2010); and he is the author of two novels: Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder (2012) and The More You Ignore Me (2013). He has contributed to The Believer, Paste, The...

  1. June 4, 2008
     Don Share

    These'll do - Empson's "Aubade" (excerpt):
    But as to risings, I can tell you why.
    It is on contradiction that they grow.
    It seemed the best thing to be up and go.
    Up was the heartening and the strong reply.
    The heart of standing is we cannot fly.
    ... and his "Let it go":
    It is this deep blankness is the real thing strange.
    The more things happen to you the more you can't
    Tell or remember even what they were.
    The contradictions cover such a range.
    The talk would talk and go so far aslant.
    You don't want madhouse and the whole thing there.
    (I feel better already!)

  2. June 4, 2008

    Hey Travis!
    Sometimes a hangover’s (purposeful?) disorientation of the senses makes me feel as though everything is some sort of poem. The look of the bedroom walls in the morning. The weather. The trees. The deafening traffic. The warped angle of the world before lots of coffee. A hangover might be the closest translation yet achieved of any Tzara poem. Which is to say it’s the physical, bodily manifestation of metal incongruity–the metaphysical made physical (that is if one believes in that sort of stuff anymore). Or maybe just Olivia Newton-John roller-skating around one’s braincase. That’s sure to leave lines somewhere.