13 Dec 2017

Rejection Letter

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Often the experts are wrong. Way back when Siskel and Ebert were on TV giving us advice with their thumbs the sure fire way of knowing a movie wasn’t worth watching was if they gave it two thumbs up. There is a similar phenomenon with the Oscars. I studiously avoid watching the Oscars every year but one cannot, it seems, avoid hearing which movies won and which movies lost or were snubbed by the Oscars. Typically I have never heard of half of the movies that the Oscars consider. And typically the big winners are not on my short list. In fact it is the opposite with the best movies being the ones that the Oscar academy felt were too “common” for their elite tastes that appeal to me… the commoner.

I am not a fan of poetry in spite of being old enough that when I attended high school we studied poets and poetry and like it or not I was exposed to it. It all seemed like preening and virtue signalling and mostly said something sad about the authors ego rather than being something worthy of the seconds or minutes it took to read it. In fact the only poem that I can remember or comes to mind begins “There once was a man from Nantucket… (I did say I was a simple common man after all.)


Even though I majored in Spanish and English and taught both for 30+ years, I am not really all that enamored with poetry, especially not the stuff that everyone raves about. That said, there are a few that appeal to me, especially this one by Manuel Gonzalez Prada:

Las mujeres honradas
y hasta impecables,
quieren ser respetadas,
no respetables.

(Women, honored
and even impeccable,
want to be respected,
not respectable.)

I get the feeling he’s talking about Gloria Allred, among others.


My favorite poem:
Once there was an elephant
Who tried to use telephant …
Oh, no! I mean an elephone
Who tried to use a telephone…
(Dear me, I’m not certain quite
That even now, I’ve got this right.)

However it was, he got his trunk
Entangled in the telephunk.
The more he tried to get it free
The louder buzzed the telephee…
(I fear I’d better drop the song
Of elephop and telephong!)

Don’t know who wrote it, but it was in a Bennett Cerf book I loved as a kid.

Seriously, that really is my favorite poem in English. But when I studied Hebrew and Yiddish I actually grew an appreciation of Hebrew and Yiddish poetry. Hebrew poetry is so different from English poetry real English poetry with rhyme and meter, because rhyme is easy in Hebrew and meter is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. The structure is based parallel imagery and parallel word structure. It’s all through the Bible. Even most modern Hebrew poetry still follows it. And little of it translates well.

That being said, I wanted to kill myself while taking a class in the poetry of David Fogel.

Yiddish poetry, not surprisingly, is a lot like German poetry with a heavy influence, not surprisingly, of Hebrew poetry. It doesn’t translate well. My Yiddish poetry classes were fun.

The classes I took on English poetry were just as much torture as the class on David Fogel. I even had a tight time keeping my sanity studying class of English poetry. (Though I do like Shakespeare.)

Modern English poetry is awful!!

English poetry went to hell in a handbasket with the free form crap. Lord, Maya Angelou is awful. I refer to it as ketchup bottle poetry — if you read the label of a ketchup bottle with that same serious, sonorous voice, you’ll sound pretty much like Maybe Angelou.

Dink Newcomb

Are you saying that “I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling …” doesn’t send a tingle up your leg? No? Well me neither! With me its more like a clenched sphincter accompanied by an anal spasm!


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