Friday, August 07, 2015

Apology for Don Share

Originally a comment at a s/m nemeton of the long-time co-host of the Carmine St. Metrics reading series, published on the not untalented Oklahoma, Norman, poet Quincy Lehr's phasebuke.

We'd been trash-talking the editor of the world's oldest, richest and most widely circulated and longest running contemporary monthly American magazine devoted to verse, Poetry's Don Share, trolling there in pseudo-private, experimentally insulting The Donald, as, i think it was me started calling him, on Lehr's Facebook updates, that Poetry occasionally, naturally, reasonably, of course, pops up in. Not every day, but when it is published, every month. 

I think i am correct in stating that tho Lehr has 1630 s/m 'friends', this, as with us all, is not the real number of friends and family in his inner golden circle. Like us all, it is far less. I don't count myself as one of the lucky few in that interesting mix of people, more of a wind-up merchant, just another s/m 'friend' & fan from the 1630, constantly poking fun at Lehr's literary pretensions and poetic sensibilities. 

Like a comfortable old conversational slipper, that began its knockabout on Lehr's seminal Dr Whup-Ass Bitch-Ass Poetry Round Up forum, that was part of the noughties rise of vernacular, anti-official verse culture DIYists from America, Australia, Britain, Canada, South Africa and basically the first global poetry forum where people actually talked without descending into acrimonious silence. 

A poetry of social-media publishing that grew out of the online poetry forum, Able Muse, and crystallized to poetic completion in the high quality online journal, Shit Creek Review, created and edited by the late great Yorkshire Australian poet, Paul Stevens (rip). 

But i do know him from when he first arrived in Dublin, eight or so years ago, to teach a year at Trinity, before going to Galway where he met some of the Irish poet friends that do make up a segment in his golden circle. In, i think, 2007/8, we regularly bumped into one another, drunk alcohol and got destroyed on it together in live poetry settings. So, disclaimer, i am biased because i actually like the guy. Or my own version of the published poet based not on all the crazee hipster front, but the person behind it.

I was with him, drinking, in the hours before Lehr first met the Irish editors of his debut and second collections, Across the Grid of Streets, and Obscure Classics of English Progressive Rock, at one of Seven Tower's monthly featured and open-mic events on Fleet Street, in Bowes pub. 

Where i experienced one of my less personally shameful or socially disruptive events of drunken live poetry recital, in which i forgot the words as soon as i went up, and i was standing up there, even tho i can remember it fairly clearly, it was clear to the world i was in no fit state to be out alone. 

And though during that era i was (sober) knocking them dead at that time, in the third year of what in my own imagination i think of as a Beatles Hamburg phase of poetry, earning the live poetry skin; it was Quincy who starred that night and caught the eye of the people who published his first two books.

The live practising in public phase continued for another year. Out every week, reciting in public, before the delusional Celtic Tiger era abruptly ended. On 26 September 2008, out of the blue, on a Monday morning, in a financial 9/11 moment, by the then nervous and ill-informed Finance Minster, Brian Lenihan (rip), announcing a near-blanket guarantee to the liabilities of the Irish banks

Chamberlain like, waving a piece of worthless paper. The 98 billion euro blanket bank Guarantee, the cheapest so far in the world. The tragedy at the heart of its comic exterior utterance, was truly epic in its scope. Lenihan, proudly declaring the cheapest bank bailout in history, on the morning after it was cobbled together in a handful of hours at an all night emergency meeting, when the Finance Minister was handed a gun to his head by the sweet talking Irish spivs and gurriers of the banking system, as they came to be known throughout the world. The Tony Blairs and Co. of a new world, in which a centuries old order was being exposed, the them and us, because the internet was making hitherto top secret information readily accessible. 

Cobbled together from the lies of obscenely wealthy Anglo Irish bank executives, the meaningless words of a man, who, shortly after, diagnosed with cancer, the news finding its way out in a shock story that Lenihan fought from coming out, his final two years, like a figure of Shakespearean tragedy, were spent trying to keep alive a fictional reality. 

Keep at bay the truth everyone in Ireland and the rest of the world woke up to in the following two years as the hangover cleared and the epic nature of the crash at the end of a bubble, the property business, factory closures, and mass unemployment, became the realization that sunk in quick. That the Celtic Tiger days were a mass collective credit fueled delusion billions of us round the world were caught up living in during the nineties and most of the noughties. And that they were. Facepalm. Well and truly over.

~

So, we are all trash-talking Don Share, on s/m updates set to private. In my own mind, tho it may appear as if i am one of the faithful h8rs of DS, the truth is i am just doing my own thing and having fun in letters. 

A self-hating Anglo-Irish troll, happy, with scholarly pretensions, more than keen to insult anyone in letters if they work out funny for the Reader. A comic sensibility with language, essentially writing from a joyful and ultimately, loving and kind, hard-won, safe-space poetry itself created for me as the former (and present) idiot i am. 

With my own journey into the word, not playing the game as Quincy and everyone else do, but knowing i am a weirdo anyway, and not bothered, as everyone else is, who do publish books, and ergo, name of the game, hustle and sell them. 

Indeed one of Quincy's finest prose pieces to date, The Lighter Side: On Selling Your Poetry Book,  is a comic litany of complaint published on the Contemporary Poetry Review website, and written in the zone any writer whose been there and any Reader, love. 

Three years after his debut collection, to paraphrase Ginsberg, had been dropped into the Grand Canyon, and he had stopped waiting to hear its echo. The mundane reality had kicked in, and Lehr, at this point one book to sell, unlocked the door to another zone of prose writing that few ever get that far to reach, never mind writing of. He'd outfaced and resolved the first book problem by being honest about his experience of it. And it is a tremendous piece of writing. For what it is.

About being a poet in contemporary America. The bullshit, the lies, the dross, the sheer numbing detached ass-slogging work ye gotta du just to stay sane and successful at it, when there are 3000 nu poatz comin outta tha universities at ye, annually.

Something the New York poet Philip Brady also writes very entertainingly about in his seminal essay, Ginsberg in Ballydehob in which 'it was all laid out':

' ...explained to me at Leviss one night after closing time, blinds drawn, by a famous Irish poet. If you're anyone, you won't need to be told who.

"You had your New York poets—Ashberry and Merrill and O'Hara and that crowd," he declared, "over here;" and he slid the dregs of a Murphy's pint due east. 

"And Hughes in Harlem and Williams just beyond." He thumbed two creamy circles on the bar. "And Bishop up north in the woods," he said, scaling a tri-cornered coaster against the base of the Smithwick's tap, "and Lowell too—grappling his spectral Hitler up in Cambridge. 

"Then you had the Chicago gangs," he tapped a matchbox by the tureen of water, "Lee and Brooks and the other ones—Kunitz and Resnikof—the Objectivists. And above," he pointed toward the bar's laurelled mirror, "there was that mad Protestant farmer Robert Bly, and the Ohio footballer James Wright with their Deep Image. 

"In the middle, the Iowa bowsers," he downed a wee jag and pucked the tumbler down, "top-guns flown in from everywhere by Henry Pussycat, who plotted for decades to murther Cal.
"Down here," he snapped a pound coin on the bar, "the Southern gentry—Penn Warren, Tate and Ransom." 

"And out there," he continued, taking a gulp of Leviss's rough red vintage with his left hand and rocking the western goblet on its base, "The rebels and mumbo-jumbo mystics, Reed and Duncan, Rexroth, Snyder and Ginsberg—with one ear cocked to Nirvana and the other to Gotham."
Finally, with the topography of America completely consumed, he lurched hard left and tamped his fag in a scalloped ashtray, hard as a period. 

"And there was Merwin in Hawaii—an extinct volcano."
 
This was the America this famous Irish poet had been reading for forty years like a palimpsest. It's the America I was taught to read also by some of the very poets nestled in the pints, ashtrays, tumblers and wineglasses littering Leviss bar. It's a story that enriches this famous Irish poet's sense of his part in a great drama. Reading it once filled me with desire to enter its alluring web. It's a story that seems to have unraveled. He asks me, finger wagging, "Who are your contemporaries?"

Ginsberg in Ballydehob is one of a series of essays on Brady's own journey, from the son of Irish immigrants to the founder of Etruscan Press. And keeper of a living flame, visible all round him in Youngstown Ohio, where he pitched up like a druid dropped from the sky, hitting a new town and single-handedly, by spontaneous magic, poetry flowing out above, around, at, from, on, over, up, thru, under, and the same as the poet Paul Casey did after he left Dublin and landed in Cork in 2008; creating from his visionary will a living scene, centered on the weekly O'Bheal featured reading, five word challenge, and poetry open mic; the beauty and goodness reflected right back on both poets as a living cultural reality.

In Brady's case, in all the excited students, readings, lectures, publishing and recitals he does, from memory, in a poetry that is peerless and without compare, imo. As this recital at Wilkes University last July demonstrates, reciting from his June 2015 collection published by Broadstone Media: To Banquet with the Ethiopians: A Memoir of Life Before the Alphabet Book XI: The Etymology of Queens.

If you are writing prose as good as Brady's, as I believe Lehr is nearing, you are already a star of American poetry with a great life on the page ahead of you.



So, here we are, or there we were, in 'private', 1630 s/m friends, and, being the most, i was doing the most egging on of others to talk more, angrier, outrageous trash about The Donald, knowing that it is the kind of goading anyone in his position will expect, and gets, from a lot of disgruntled from the annual 3000 Nu US Poatz, naturally, because he is Dondarling S, we decided, or rather, i wrote, feeling particularly pleased with the sarcastic toxicity of some of the trash-talk epithets that are essentially, a play with letters and arranging into words, this kind of vitriolic outpouring from complete strangers on s/m, that goes with the territory of having the cushiest gig in poetry, certainly in America. 

As a result of trash-talking him in, what i think, was private, he must have read it because Quincy is then, someone who he has never had any written contact with, does not personally know, blocked by Share on Twitter.

No big deal, we may say, those who don't like the Norman guy in New York with his poetry professor rock n roll shtick. The funny clothes, a highly conscious maintenance of the hipster attitude, a potential three hundred and sixty million individual reasons for not being liked and popular in contemporary American culture. But then, like the golden circle, precising the 1630 friends down to the less than one percent of top successful poetry students out of the 100% that  begin some bardic curriculum equivalent, in America, 16.3 in the inner most private circle of knowledge and information with which to remotely control the mind of DS.


Apology to Don Share
by fb friend of Quincy 
Lehr
~

I think we, or rather, certainly myself, owe Don Share a big fat fookin apology for being a faakin dik Ed referring to him so uncouthly as all but a dickhead 'imself for this summer's July/August 2015 Poetry magazine. 

Though the July/August edition of Poetry is edited by a teenage kid, when I read it, or rather, scrolled thru, shaking my head in bafflement, i thought the editorial choices were made by a 60 something Harvard intellectual, and, poetically enough, getting it wholly wrong.

And only learning in this Toast interview, with the real editor, after trashing The Donald te fuke on Quincy Lehr's private fb updates; that the July/August 2015 Poetry editor was not Don Banaldo, but this sweet young kid

I fawt ih wur Donny S, DS, the editor of Poetry. Far from him being an idiot he is actually very switched on doing this, as it shows he is not really giving two effs about his Editor head. 

And far from being up its own ass, The Donald's head is doing a great thing giving the free reign to a multi-talented 19 yr old writer, Terri Gevison, like my favorite American woman in the entire world, Anderson Cooper's personal mystic, the best comedian in America, Kathy Griffin, from Oak Park Illinois. The Rookie Magazine, founder, and editor in chief. Saying to the style writer, actress, and singer, Teri Gevison, do what you want with it. Which she did. Fair play. Slainte Don.

I luv u DS. adios. salwaygo. Goodluck. God Bless. Grá agus síocháin.


Kevin Desmond Swords

ynwa!


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