Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

16 August 2009

My New Favorite Poet

So I finally broke down and bought Tony Hoagland's collection of poems entitled What Narcissism Means to Me. After reading the collection, Hoagland has jumped from one of my favorite poets to my absolute favorite poet.

Hoagland's poetry is wry, knowing, and wise. He captures both the sadness and the incomparable beauty of being alive in ways that no other poet I know can do. His work is mature, self-reflexive, and he has a delicious sense of humor about himself. In a way he is very serious, but he manages not to take himself seriously at all. I recommend this collection to everyone. It is a wonderful book.

At any rate, I will probably share a couple of his poems in the next couple of days. This is one of my favorites from the collection:

Suicide Song

But now I am afraid I know too much to kill myself
Though I would still like to jump off a high bridge

At midnight, or paddle a kayak out to sea
Until I turn into a speck, or wear a necktie made of knotted rope

But people would squirm, it would hurt them in some way,
And I am too knowledgeable now to hurt people imprecisely.

No longer do I live by the law of me,
No longer having the excuse of youth or craziness,

And dying you know shows a serious ingratitude
For sunsets and beehive hairdos and the precious green corrugated

Pickles they place at the edge of your plate.
Killing yourself is wasteful, like spilling oil

At sea or not recycling all the kisses you've been given,
And anyway, who has clothes nice enough to be caught dead in?

Not me. You stay alive you stupid asshole
Because you haven't been excused,

You haven't finished though it takes a mulish stubbornness
To chew this food.

It is a stone, it is an inconvenience, it is an innocence,
And I turn against it like a record

Turns against the needle
That makes it play.