Distribution Automatique

Wednesday, November 10

{This Just In- Nov. 11

Jonathan Mayhew got his only B from Karl Shapiro in college (click here)

Vital Wood s lot {click here}-
today celebrated the birthday of
Karl Shapiro, a poet l learned of browsing one day
in the Strand bookshop (couldn't resist a first edtion of a famous poet for
the paltry price of $3.) Shapiro, once a towering figure in American letters,
now a denizen of the bargain shelves. Maybe not such a bad fate for such a
provocative poet, who knows, considering poetry politics on the whole...

from *The Bourgeois Poet* (1964, Random House)

"The best book has a sad finality. The best book closes too
many rooms. the best poem clicks like a box: you have
made yourself a neat little trap, a hideaway with wall-
to wall rhyme. Praises of passers-by, equivalent of
riches. Double feeling of triumph and depression, like
one who has reached the mountain top. He notes with
surprise that he is going down. Better not to think about

"Your book about my books, which I'm the only reader of. O
book that's absolutely mine, that I didn't have a hand
in. Mirror of my Narcissus years, music box, what if I
stop now? List of notices that brought me nights of
delirium, ecstacy, fury, heartbreak, mirror broken and
magically joined together without a flaw. History of
me which only I can read. And you, my author, what
thanks or regrets shall I give? You took me alive, hands
tied behind, delivered me to the marshal of degrees.
There on the platform where all things fall through, I
went down in operatic flames. In velvet cape and
swirl of pen, I accepted.

Incapacity of sincerity reminds me of an oral question:
Moliere, etait-il sincere? (What in the name of God
is prose?)

Phone book of myself I will call you up."....

"Prove you are less destructive than the poet. Prove that
the great slow prose poem of the analysis does not lead
to the artifical paradise."...

"Posterity is a literary racket. Posterity is a switchboard
to past present, and future. Posterity is an intercom sys-
tem devised by the brain of super-educationalists in far-
away almost nonexistent places like offices. Posterity
lives in the vaults of the nearest insurance company.
Posterity is for the fabulously rich. The poor plant
potatoes in the bathtub and dandle their children and
listen to beery poetry on broken sofas."....

"Younger I dreamed of being a poet whose trash basket was
rifled by scholars. I learned to write trash-basket
poems. But this is closer to my real desire, I'm writing
the poem as much for you as a poem is possible, It
stands there like a half-filled glass, both coming and
going. I'm a bad host. The drinks are too strong; I
don't know how to carve (I say with a grin, I'm left-
handed). This is a poem to sneak at a glance. (I'm
writing it to mean, not be.)"...

"We pick some unsuspecting soul, usually a friend, on whom
to visit a lifetime of frustration. Usually a friend, at one fell
swoop. That's what friends are for."

"The citizens of Nowhere scatter in all directions."...