I only smoke when I have too much to do or not enough.


Music never makes me cry anymore.


All she eats is bananas.


"Silence of Lucky."


Is there anything that's exactly like alcohol but isn't alcohol?


But electricity is the same for everybody.

Originally Published: September 3rd, 2009

Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, poet Joel Brouwer is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and Syracuse University. Brouwer is the author of several collections of poetry, including And So (2009); Centuries (2003), a National Book Critics Circle Notable Book; and Exactly What Happened (1999), winner of the Larry Levis...

  1. September 4, 2009

    I am enjoying your 'overheard in the hallway' notion. Do please keep it up. I think I get what you are after. It's got poetry.\r

    "Music never makes me cry anymore." That kind of hurts.\r


  2. September 4, 2009
     Wendy Babiak

    Here's one overheard at the convenience-store counter, spoken by a clerk training another clerk, typing in the info for a money transfer:\r

    You can't trust them Chinese. They don't even need u's for their q's.

  3. September 4, 2009

    So, once again, what is to dislike about my compliment to Brouwer's blog? I ask the poet to keep it up and I respond to what he says. But I get a negative vote.\r

    Once again, Harriet people, I ask you to reconsider this new feauture of yours. It manufactures snarkiness.\r


  4. September 5, 2009
     Wendy Babiak

    Yet it also helps to be able to vote AGAINST snarkiness, so it's a double-edge, don't you think?\r

    Some people respond negatively the spectacle of someone praising another; maybe they wish they were receiving praise? Maybe they perceive sycophancy? Though the praise itself could be perfectly merited and genuine.\r

    I wouldn't worry too much about the "score" of your comments. What does it matter, really?

  5. September 5, 2009
     John Oliver Simon

    The snark was a boojum, you see.

  6. September 6, 2009

    If I recall correctly, Terreson, Harriet introduced the Chicago-Roman-imperial thumbs in response to lots of complaints that some people were commenting too much and at too great a length. Rather than introduce a policy limiting numbers of words and/or comments per day per commenter, Harriet decided to let the mob make its feelings known through anonymous peer pressure. I don't like it either -- in fact, all you "Dislikers" out there -- I Dislike your Dislike! If I could vote on your Disliking things, I would! Thumbs down! Throw the Dislikers to the lions! (I've used the Thumbs too, Red and Green. Guilty. But I've got a deal with the lions, see . . . )\r

    Anyway, Terreson, I have no idea why anybody would dislike your comment. Such gratuitous, senseless, anonymous Dislike really is lame. It enables and enacts some of the worst of web culture. (Of which, yes, I am also guilty, as well as other aspects of the worst of web culture.)\r

    Let it all hang out, people! Anonymously! Thumbs down away!

  7. September 6, 2009

    The "Like" / "Dislike" binary is trivializing. Poets are all about our feelings, right? That's what Harriet's anonymous comment-on-the-comment system implies. I "Like" this, I "Dislike" that. \r

    In other words -- that is so lame, that is so hot -- whatEVer.

  8. September 6, 2009

    It's also telling that "Dislike" gets the top of the ballot, "Like" gets the bottom. Harriet calls 'em like she sees 'em, oh yeah.

  9. September 7, 2009

    I voted "Dislike" on my last comment. It *is* telling that Harriet gives top billing to Dislike -- I *do* think that the Harriet-meister anticipated that bile would get more play than sanguinity, and even wanted to encourage that biliousness, and I *do* dislike that encouragement. But I also dislike the last sentence of my last comment -- too bilious. Maybe it's contagious! I think it is.\r

    Giving top billing to Dislike is so negative! So anti-lyrical, anti-diological (in the Buberean sense), so I-It rather than I-Thou! And I-Thou *is* the lyrical posture, O tall tree in the ear, O nightingale, O fleecy cloud, O Harriet! \r

    'Tain't a lyric age though. Nope.

  10. September 7, 2009

    Ah, the Dislikers will predictably Dislike a critique of Disliking. We mustn't discuss what's going on here -- we're poets, after all, not novelists. Reflecting on group dynamics is boring. \r

    The first time I saw the Replacements, in 1982, I didn't know who they were -- a friend had dragged me to a club to see the band they were on the bill with (the Slickee Boys, I think). The Replacements were doing their raging melodic punk small-club thing, compellingly, and someone (not me) was booing them, and between songs the singer said, with sour, sarcastic, self-mocking but sincere and unforgettable humor and poignancy, "That hurts my feelings."\r

    A great, complex moment. I can't do it. Y'all's Dislike is funny!

  11. September 7, 2009
     Wendy Babiak

    Thanks for the chuckles this afternoon! I "liked" all your comments! And look, I'll use one more exclamation point!