Marcus Wicker’s Silencer is very good. I’ve spent a lot of time with its poems, yet it’s not enough. Wicker is sharp in this interview with Kathleen Rooney at the Poetry Foundation. You will come out more alive after reading both/either. Wicker:
- “Poetry won’t save your life, at least not without (self) action. But a well-wrought language object can deliver a lightning bolt of feeling married to intelligence that’s capable of stirring readers into any number of outward actions and interior reactions. That’s power and magic enough for me.”
- “I take my hip-hop influences as seriously as my literary heroes, and I’d like others to do so as well.”
Over at the New Statesman, Jason Murugesu argues that Kanye West is “our first metaphysical rapper”. One might feel a gentle pop as their optic nerves retreat from their aggressively rolling eyes when, five graphs in, Murugesu writes: “According to Encyclopedia Britannica, Donne’s metaphysical poetry is “characterised by conceit or ‘wit'”. But keep going, the lay argument builds a compelling case, not for his intended point, but, for looking at contemporary artists with disengaged distance. Murugesu:
Not everything is so highbrow though. West and Donne enjoy a similar taste for puns made in poor taste. Donne’s The Good Morrow describes his thoughts as he awakes next to his lover. In it, Donne makes his now infamous sexual pun where he references his lover’s “country pleasures”.
The opening of West’s “Mercy” features the rapper Big Sean trying to make a similar pun on the word “ass” (throughout the song, multiple rappers featured on the song compare women to the super-car, the Lamborghini Mercy).
Another reading suggestion — this one a deeper investment — is “Tradition and Innovation in Hellenistic Poetry” first published in Italian in 2002, and translated by Cambridge University Press in 2004. Marco Fantuzzi and Richard Hunter take a monographic look at the poetry of the third and second centuries BC, and engage in close readings of “some of the most famous Greek poetry of the Hellenistic period”. It’s a scholarly text, so the reading isn’t as immediately accessible as either the interview or the internet errata above, but the first 43 pages are available to read on Google Books; try it out. I’m a zealous believer in the fact that this kind of information shouldn’t only be read between the dire walls of a university classroom. This stuff can be great fun. One representative sentence:
- The intensive philological scholarship of the third century BC, which sought to describe and classify literary forms of the past, may have facilitated the contamination of traditional genres.
And finally, some suggested reading from the last few weeks on wikipoem.org:
bucolic clangors suspend themselves behind the slow rise and in their teeth hear crickets
euclid measures across the lull of a dog and me steaming a mouthful of rod starvations of posture impeccable
men stumble in spring street on flip flops and broadway phantom lovers phantoms their damn selves
unreached but unreachable this condition is the key then to to verdant madness
office hours the filter power così così through the wet black ink bureau file my will somehow on our niggling wetness makes it appear darker somehow crammed