Free Beer

(No, not this one.)

I’d like to read The Waste Land And Other Poems. The new one, that is, written by John Beer, another Chicago poet. The title poem takes a very different tack from Wendy Cope’s “Waste Land Limericks” and Ann Lauterbach‘s “Alice In The Waste Land” from Or To Begin Again, but is just as (more?) impressive.

He also has a pantoum called “Total Information Awareness” and several “Sonnets to Morpheus” here and here (that’s Morpheus the character from The Matrix), but it’s “J. Beer 1969-1969” from that last link that really gets to me. It is, appropriately, a haunting piece of work.

MADRID Impresses Me

A poem entitled “I Have Passed Too Many Years Among Cool Designing Beings” certainly gets me curious, and so I clicked and read my first Anthony Madrid poem. Then I went on Google and found several others:

  1. two poems (“Let’s Watch This Lily-Colored Devil” and “No More Epigrams Against Sluts”)
  2. four poems (“Between Myself And A Lover Of Spencer,” “In The Stones Of A Bull,” “The Tempter Will Go Us One Better,” “That She Is In Love With A Wretch Like That”)
  3. “Crows, Too, Have A Means of Purring” (hilarious reader comment near the bottom of the page)
  4. “Beneath Your Parents’ Mistress”

All of the above feature what seem to be certain trademark quirks of a lot of his poems: long lines arranged in couplets, quirky titles and a warped imagination, ending with a usually-capitalized admonition to himself (“MADRID, do you not see your poetry gives comfort to the wicked?”).

EDIT: I stand corrected. Madrid writes in the ghazal form. I’m embarrassed to not have identified it as such. I’ve yet to seriously study the form, so I didn’t know much more than the repeated elements like rhyme (qafia) and refrain (radif). I certainly didn’t know about the final couplet (makhta) containing the poet’s pseudonym (takhallus).

Not all his work proceeds this way though, “Rhymes” is composed of short lines arranged in quatrains (yes, they rhyme). Of the five poems here, despite their long lines and couplets, only one (“The Having A Rich Stock Of Wine”) features that address to himself in the penultimate line.

Based on this feature story, I know where to go next. First, Michael Robbins. Then, Anthony Madrid. See you soon, Stephanie Anderson. (Sooner than I think, this slightly variant version of the previously-linked article contains poems by all three.)

A few years ago, I wanted to get into the University of Chicago for its cinema studies faculty; now I want to go for the poetry.