In 1988 I sent my dad a card. He was in Pennsylvania. At home we weren’t watching T.V.—a fast, I take it. I drew a cartoon: In Hell, the Devil cackles while three people sweat in the unbearable heat; a fourth person, identified as a Boy Scout, sits comfortably with a personal fan. A caption reads, “A Boy Scout who took the motto 'be prepared' to heart.”
My first reaction to this cartoon, reading it as an adult, is that it’s really dumb. But! upon reflection, adult me thinks this cartoon is hilarious. Not least of all because the Boy Scout, as I drew him, is one happy lad, sitting on his pile of dirt in Hell.
Yesterday, I met with my co-editor for Fence’s “other” category & we discussed a few works for issue no. 41. My co-editor, Sarah Falkner, is a delight. We are simpatico. I am very pleased—oh, did I mention?—to be an editor at Fence. How strange.
& just a handful of days ago, I received copies of Fence no. 40, which is gigantic, & guest edited by Edgar Garcia, who asks, “What’s the problem with American poetry right now?” The answer is, “Not a thing.” Or, maybe the answer is, “It’s a drag.” I guess you’ll have to read the fourteen responses to his question to know for sure. There’s also a wonderful selection of translated poetry. I’d point out the Polish poem to my dad, if I could: Halina Poswiatowska’s “[we have enormous possibilities].”
But I suppose he’d be more interested in my contribution to the issue, an essay called “Blue Tape.” I read from it in New York last November. My sister & her husband, a former student of mine (Tatiana), & Rebecca Wolff were in the large & enthusiastic audience. We were raided by the police during Harmony Holiday’s reading. They’d heard there was a problem with poetry in America right now.