“Not” “Quite” “Yet:” A Lesson in Linguistics in Schuyler’s “Dining Out with Doug and Frank”

Line count starts at the title. (Oh, let me go back.) First, the traditional title serves as an amuse-bouche of the poem, a compendiary taste of the lyrical feast to come: for example, Robert Lowell’s “Skunk Hour” promises skunks and delivers skunks. However, in the conversationalist trope of Postmodernist poetic aesthetic, the title is the first line of a poem and is to be read first, the first line is read as the second, the second as the third, and so forth. The title is the first breath of narrative, and an author encourages his or her readers to read on—a rhetorical trick of unadulterated authorial intention as he or she strikes his or her first strokes to the page. James Schuyler breathes his first breath, “Dining Out with Doug and Frank,” as this promise of this narrative. Through the first several words, a rhetorical analysis suggests that the ambiguity between converging and diverging definitions, as well as being attracted and yet straying from narrative, demonstrates the isolation or fortitude one can feel surrounded by water in the middle of Manhattan. Continue reading ““Not” “Quite” “Yet:” A Lesson in Linguistics in Schuyler’s “Dining Out with Doug and Frank””

how i learned how to learn.

I finished this year at my personal best: I spent my summer scraping off the residue of my first, guiltless “F” but will graduate in May with a GPA of 3.53, I got engaged to the most creative, handsome, free-thinking mentor-slash-friend I know, and was accepted into the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Master’s of Modern and Contemporary Art History, Theory, and Criticism program. Here are a couple of things that I’ve learned over this year. Continue reading “how i learned how to learn.”

The Poet is Dead: John Ashbery’s Talk on ‘The New York School’

“The only way of expressing emotion in the form of art is by finding an ‘objective correlative’; in other words, a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that particular emotion; such that when the external facts, which must terminate in sensory experience, are given, the emotion is immediately evoked. . .” (Eliot, Hamlet, 1919).

Given the flavors of Individualism and Surrealism steeping the tone of John Ashbery’s talk, the residue of Enlightenment (à l’Eliot) doesn’t translate well into Modernity. Key words being: “formula,” “facts,” “must terminate,” it’s no mind-bending surprise that an avant-garde artist in mid-century of the “Now” would reject his being pinned down by a label that would suggest his job as Creator to be otherwise. According to his talk “The New York School of Poets” (at the National Book Awards symposium, 1968), there is one thing that he can be certain of: “I feel that [poetry] should be anything that it wants to be.” First of all, that rings of a pillar in a Modernist Manifesto, (certainly not unlike Marionetti and the rest of the Futurists of the early twentieth century–Pound’s “Make it new,” has indeed been percolating through the artistic ecosystem for half a century), but even more strikingly, he shifts the agency of creation from himself to his poetry. In other words, it is not ‘his’ making poetry whatever he wants it to be, it is the nature of the poetry to assume an agency over the role of the author. (“The plume leaps in the hand” (line 9, “Le Livre est sur la Table”).) Continue reading “The Poet is Dead: John Ashbery’s Talk on ‘The New York School’”

Nine Lives

We call them Altoids and they crash and scatter all over the blue-carpeted bathroom floor. Quick! Find them all before the cat does. I tell Keller’s baby sister they’re little white mints filled with white powder. If she finds one, she can have a stick of Big Red gum I have.

We’ve been goin’ and rollin’ for hours, but there was this one shit Keller picked up from that one fat kid, Turbeville’s his name, Tubeville, Turville, something like that, and we waited in the parking lot of the Walgreens on 1093 for was seemed like forty-five minutes before the fat kid shows up in the big red truck, and when I say big red truck I mean a BIG RED TRUCK, and it was loud, and the head lights danced discos in my eyes and Keller paid for the shit and shook a bit from the baggie the fat kid had in the big red truck, and we tried some and soon we were pumpin’ and jumpin’ and bumpin’ down Mason Road, past my house, past the elementary, and past the right we needed, fool, take a right at the light, the BIG RED LIGHT, you dumb fuck and SLAP! That shut my mouth right up, and the oozy red pumped and jumped and bumped out my left eye and I didn’t say another thing ‘til we got back to his place, and I dropped the whole damn bag all over the bathroom floor for the cat to eat.


[Tune in nexttimes, kiddies, for more!]