Thursday, March 13, 2014

103. Knott }

I'll refrain from any Bill Knott anecdotes, an obvious way to respond to his death. Instead, I'll direct you to John Cotter's review of Knott's Collected Poems 1960 - 2013, finally published by the Poetry Foundation a little more than a month ago. Knott was part of the same scene as Paul Hannigan, as much as either were part of a scene: Boston, Emerson College, Ploughshares, etc. A scene I knew, but a decade (and more) after Hannigan was (mostly) out of it, and Knott was an associate professor. He was my advisor when I was an undergraduate. Later, we were neighbors in Somerville. Mostly I knew him through stories. Open Letters Monthly published an obit if you're looking for more.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

102. Proteus reads } savagely gnashed teeth.

Tomorrow, I’ll travel with my eldest to Hartford, where I am a featured reader at WordForge, alongside Dominic Failla. I don’t know him, but his verse seems addressed to me: “Dear Adam / how did you become / a bird of prey / devouring the delicious / edges of joy?” I don’t know, how did Compsognathus become a chicken? I’ll read from Another Nemesis, a poem-in-progress. “What is not / the utterance / ‘am’?” it begins. Huh.

The reading is part of a series hosted by The Studio at Billings Forge. The reading begins at 7pm. I hear that instead of box wine and crackers, it’s Dalmore 62 Hiland Malt Scotch in Tiffany crystal tumblers. Alas, no crackers. Still, get there early, right?  

The next day I’ll suggest to my students that there is nothing strange about book four of The Georgics. Some bad bee science, for sure—but there’s nothing strange about bad science. The last pages are dedicated to selfish Aristaeus and his quest to get his bee hives back in order, a retelling not out of the blue, but set up by the many myths alluded to and retold throughout the poem. Furthermore, it’s the final book of the poem, a position that gives it special weight and license.

The most unusual moment in The Georgics is Virgil’s portrait of a farmer and his wife, working side-by-side in the house during a cold snap. He sharpens the blades of his tools, while she “with shrill shuttle zips across the warp” and sings. Is there another moment like it in the poem?

[Image: “Italian stone pin”" from “The Plants of Virgil's Georgics” by Rachael Wilson.]