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Posts Tagged ‘spinach’

Frederick Seidel’s “Spin”

June 20, 2012 | by

Photograph Mark Mahaney.

Nothing suits me as well as the combination of sweet and sour. It explains my love of Thai food and women rockers who sing like robots about heartbreak. It also explains my love of Frederick Seidel’s poetry. Apparently it’s not to everyone’s taste; he has been called the “Darth Vader of American poetry” for such seemingly cruel lines as “A naked woman my age is just a total nightmare.” Of course, that line is in a poem, “Climbing Everest,” about his own mortality, his own nakedness (a “train wreck”), and the coldness of those words allows the rest to work on us. And I suppose one must have a mind of winter, and been cold a long time, to write a poem about a dying dog: “Spin.”

Which is the poem stuck in my head.

A dog named Spinach died today.
In her arms he died away.
Injected with what killed him.
Love is a cup that spilled him.
Spilled all the Spin that filled him.
Sunlight sealed and sent.
Received and spent.
Smiled and went.

I make my creative-writing students memorize and recite poetry; I want to embed a few lines of precise language and meter in their brains, like a sleeper cell, to be activated when they are at a loss for imagery or words. To prove it can be done, I memorize a new poem every week. So you would think I’d have a multitude swimming around up there. But the one poem that always snakes its way up—intact—through the debris of memory is also the only poem that, when I recite it before my class, makes them break into tears.

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On the Shelf

August 10, 2011 | by

A cultural news roundup.

  • Philip Levine is America’s new poet laureate.
  • Save the Words is dedicated to bringing underutilized vocabulary back into circulation. A locupletative goal!
  • The Popeye Cookbook is, not shockingly, heavy on the spinach.
  • Bienvenue en France, Google Books!
  • An unlikely hit: The Waste Land app earns back its costs in a mere six weeks.
  • “I think it’s one of those things where you’re standing in a room, and you’re like, ‘Let’s make a new food magazine.’ And that’s a terrible idea. The world does not need a new food magazine ... But if it’s such a bad idea that you can do a good version of it, then that’s a cool challenge.”
  • An Edinburgh marathon reading of Theresa Breslin’s Prisoner in Alcatraz attempts to break the world reading record.
  • Signs of a publishing rebound?
  • John Burnside on researching a book: “I went for a walk in the Arctic Circle without map or compass. Fortunately, I was only lost for hours, not days.”
  • Watch Britten’s Turn of the Screw, live.
  • There was something a bit Wellsian about photographs of riots and looting across London this weekend. Pictures of burning shops and broken windows and young men confronting uniformed police included crowdsourced images snatched by witnesses in the rapid, unexpected diffusion of trouble. The most dramatic, of Tottenham on fire and the blackened aftermath, are positively apocalyptic. To me, it all seems uncanny and reminiscent of late Victorian science fiction. Even the place names have that quality of ordinariness that Wells exploits in his fantasy of a London apocalypse: Tottenham in flames, insurrection in Enfield, anarchy in Leyton and Islington ...”