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My Poetry Picks for 2013

By K. Silem Mohammad


1. Stephanie Barber, Night Moves (Publishing Genius Press)

A transcription (copy & paste, more accurately) of the YouTube comment stream for Bob Seger’s famous 1976 song. Somewhere between conceptualism and old-fashioned found poetry, this book’s deft authorlessness frames a content-rich sweet spot. An excerpt:

The 60,s from Nam to Woodstock you had to experience it.God Bless America

u gotta loveee bob segar u fag, it seems like you have devoted ur fag life into talkin about bob segar

hell, i’m 81 and i love this song. anyone who was ever young has to choke a little when you hear it. it’s the best anthem of youth ever written

got me knocked up in 84

wtf is a pie in the sky summit?

this song makes me so nostalgic it actually hurts

Me too man, me too


2. A Dark Dreambox of Another Kind: The Poems of Alfred Starr Hamilton (The Song Cave)

A reissue of representative poems by one of the most fascinating “outsider” poets of the twentieth century. Here is “Dime”:

The hardest travels I ever had were on the king’s highway
The hardest travels I ever had were over the dusty roads
The hardest script I ever wrote of was over a diamond
I pushed a plow over thine kingdom come of events
I pushed a plow over the face of a dime


3. Geoffrey Nutter, The Rose of January (Wave Books)

Don’t let the precocious Stegner-Fellow-y veneer scare you off: this book’s slick syntactic chops are backed up by a genuinely rich and strange sensibility, as in “The Altar Boy”:

I spoke to Mother,
and my dreams repeated back to me
seemed childish and insincere.
As a young man cites his past as altar boy
to help lend credence
to his unbelief, was I too
rigging Santa Claus to willow masts
and stripping him to help make
kindling burn the tracts
of old Duns Scotus? Look, you,
I can play poet with the best of them.
And look, Mom, this poet
was drunk on the wine of Heaven,
at war with giantesses in the clouds.


4. Dana Ward, The Crisis of Infinite Worlds (Futurepoem Books)

A thrilling journal-like collision of prose and verse that documents the poet’s intensely emotional love affair with both his daily domestic experience and the entire world. From “E”:

like we were at the reading when Selena Gomez sings a perfect “Internationale,” then a few oohs & ahhs & little sighs waft through the room. They ricochet like goldfish as they move through our Grand Canyons

dying from neglect in the middle of the night. It’s like I need a stopwatch, or Catholicism maybe, to develop an ever more harlequin faith, for the espionage of our small ecstatic secrets & the ways

they will become a non-possession. I somehow think those moans of lost delight become the present. I think their spectrum is haunting our sky. I feel like pornography could die today, or live


5. Alli Warren, Here Come the Warm Jets (City Lights Books)

Warren’s long-awaited debut volume, after more than ten years of being an integral deity in the Bay Area poetic pantheon (part of that time while she was still in her teens). Here’s part of why she’s one of my favorite living poets, from “Manuel Loves Robin” (with some sly sampling of Shawn Johnson):

I conceived the desire
to take my pleasure dear Stacy
I wanted to put my desire to execution
I am a caring girl who loves to flip
but I really blew it
in the finals got great red spot
all over my face

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Posted in Poetry News on Wednesday, December 11th, 2013 by K. Silem Mohammad.