Editing this issue was a delight. If you’re a regular reader, we hope you’ve enjoyed watching it unfold. Among the things it taught us: the distance between jest and reverence is sometimes not very great; imitations of one author in the style of another are more common than we thought; “difficult” and experimental writers attract almost as many imitators as the more accessible ones, perhaps because of the challenge they present; poems that are themselves imitations tend to attract further imitations (though we didn’t often choose the results for publication); and you all really, really like Wallace Stevens’ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.”
Well, O.K., we sort of expected that last result. And it wasn’t a big surprise that we received multiple imitations of Hemingway, Dickinson and Plath, either. It makes sense that the most idiosyncratic authors and artists would be among the most often imitated: creative people are attracted to otherness, and putting on a mask that’s strikingly different from one’s own face brings out the inner child. Playfulness or the desire to improve one’s craft aren’t the only impulses at work in this issue, though. Sometimes an imitation responds to or expands upon a point made in the original work. And sometimes, too, parody seems like the best way to critique some lamentable tendency of the imitated author: Wordsworth’s sexism, Richard Lovelace’s fatuousness and Dylan Thomas’ failure to take his own advice about dying were all pilloried in this issue, for example.
At the other extreme, we were charmed that a few contributors went so far as to dedicate their pieces to the authors whose styles they imitated. There’s something touching and very human about the impulse to engage dead authors and artists in conversation. In some cases, of course, the imitated authors are still with us, so there’s a chance they’ll read these imitations. What must it be like to encounter this kind of tribute to the power of one’s work?
A few of the contributors to this issue are working on book-length collections in the imitative mode. We were pleased to be able to excerpt such ambitious projects as the collaborative “Odes of Opposition” by Lisa McCool-Grime and Nancy Flynn, Marilyn Annucci‘s manuscript After Her, and DeWitt Clinton‘s poem-by-poem response to Kenneth Rexroth’s One Hundred Poems from the Chinese.
It’s interesting to note the relative proportion of male to female authors and artists among the imitative models, which movements and national literatures are represented, and so forth. Rather than continue to try to summarize the issue, though, we thought it might be more useful to compile a complete index of imitative models.
What struck you most about this issue? Feel free to leave your own assessments in the comments.
The following links go to imitations in the issue, not to the original works or artists/authors.
Adcock, Fleur (“The Ex-Queen Among the Astronomers“)
Agee, James (A Death in the Family)
Albertí, Rafael (Sobre los ángeles)
Ashbery, John (general)
Atwood, Margaret (“Heart“)
Bacon, Francis (Self-portrait, 1972)
Balthus (telegram sent to the Tate Gallery, 1968)
Bishop, Elizabeth (“One Art“)
Bobrowksi, Johannes (“Fishing port“)
Borges, Jorge Luis (“Limits“)
Breton, Andre (“Free Union“)
Bukowski, Charles (general)
Cisneros, Sandra (“You Bring Out the Mexican In Me“)
Collins, Billy (general)
cummings, e.e. (general)
Dickinson, Emily (“I heard a fly buzz when I died…“)
Drummond de Andrade, Carlos (“In the Middle of the Road“)
Eliot, T.S. (“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock“)
Gass, William (“In the Heart of the Heart of the Country“)
Ginsberg, Allen (general)
Glück, Louise (general)
Gregg, Linda (general)
Hardy, Thomas (“The Convergence of the Twain“)
Hass, Robert (“Meditation at Lagunitas“)
Hemingway, Ernest (general)
Heynen, Jim (short stories)
Hopper, Edward (general)
Hughes, Ted (general)
Keats, John (general)
Larkin, Philip (“Vers de Societé“)
Levine, Philip (general)
Lissaint, Carvens (“Tell Them“)
Lovelace, Richard (“To Lucasta, Going to the Wars“)
McBryde, Ian (Slivers)
Moore, Lenard D. (“Postcard to an Ecologist“)
Olson, Charles (The Maximus Poems)
Oppen, George (general)
Owen, Wilfred (“Dulce et Decorum Est“)
Pamuk, Orhan (My Name Is Red)
Parker, Dorothy (general)
Picasso, Pablo (Self-portrait / Autoportrait, 1972)
P’o, Su Tung (“The Terrace in the Snow“)
Pound, Ezra (general)
Pulp magazines from the 1930s (Westerns)
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (Self Portrait with Beret and Turned-Up Collar)
Rexroth, Kenneth (One Hundred Poems from the Chinese)
Rich, Adrienne (“Final Notations“)
Rilke, Rainer Maria (“Archaic Torso of Apollo“)
Roethke, Theodore (“Cuttings (later)“)
Ryan, Kay (general)
Šalamun, Tomaž (“I Smell Horses in Poland“)
Siken, Richard (Crush)
Smart, Christopher (“Jubilate Agno“)
Stein, Gerturde (general)
Stern, Gerald (“Spring“)
Stevens, Wallace (“Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird“)
Stevenson, Robert Louis (“My Shadow“)
Strand, Mark (“Keeping Things Whole“)
Thomas, Dylan (general)
Twain, Mark (general)
Uelsmann, Jerry (general)
Van Gogh, Vincent (Self-Portrait, September 1889)
Vasarely, Victor (general)
Vermeer, Johannes (Girl with a Pearl Earring)
Weston, Edward (Pepper, 1930)
Whitman, Walt (“Give Me the Splendid Silent Sun“)
Wilbur, Richard (The Beautiful Changes and Other Poems)
Woloch, Cecelia (“Blazon“)
Wordsworth, William (various)
(For Ian, Again)
Old enough to remember.
Your silence woke me.
Lights out. Nobody at home.
His hand got stuck in the postbox.
In the dream, you made me go to the front.
You can’t return what you stole.
Each heart, side by side with night.
He hunts himself.
Liquid from both ears.
Were there receipts for slaves?
The petals were bait.
I was untouchable; you were unreasonable.
A friend knows when to turn the lights out.
Briefly, wounds are touched.
They themselves are proof.
Show me a pub with no fear…
A pool in the liver in which to drown.
It’s not my business, but it pays.
You’ll never sleep alone.
Nightmare: everyone stayed.
Atheists feel like bastards sometimes.
So many feet! So slowly!
We are all going home.
Again and again and again and a gain and…
In your dream, you were still alive.
In one night. All.
Inspired by the poetry of Ian McBryde, particularly his book of one-line poems, Slivers (Melbourne: Flat Chat Press, 2005).
Matt Hetherington is not a poet, but he writes poetry, and has so many sides he’s round. He lives around Melbourne, Australia and his last book of poetry was called I Think We Have (Small Change Press, 2007).
by Rick Clark
In my veins, in my bones I feel it
—from “Cuttings (later),” with apologies to Theodore Roethke
The year is momentous,
I have checked the calendar:
Twenty-one years old, and thus
I look back on a life that meanders,
Ebbs away from me, like rain running off
Of rough roofs, to be muddily lost
Amidst an epoch of tender learning;
I grow old while still young, and yearning
For tokens signifying that I am now a man,
And better for it. Now, summer comes,
Bringing cicadas squirming past dams
Of ancient root and leaf and earth, from
Those palatial alcoves deep beneath my feet.
The wild things return, and sing, and sing
For just three new moons, and greet
The young as their time is ending.
Rick Clark is a 29-year-old writer living in Fairfax, Virginia. He is a previous winner of the George Mason Review Prize for Poetry for the poem “Eight Crows,” and is in the process of (finally) finishing a degree in Creative Writing at George Mason University.
by Allen Speed
Don’t faint, but your long, cool glass of water
Is the ball-sweat of a burning saint.
In the hedgerows, in the markets, murder
And its oozy products are the gory norm.
Don’t think that like some shoulderless skink
You’ll blindly make off in the mud with your life;
Your only question is how death’s coming,
By spade or truck or flood or stoat or knife.
Stay up late, hysteria will fill you
With the natural world’s repulsive goos.
That’s not the oil furnace you hear thrumming,
Or the afterburn of last night’s booze,
But the bloody murmur of The Dire News
And its glowering editor, Ted Hughes.
Download the podcast (reading by Dave Bonta)
Allen Speed has poems published or forthcoming under this and other names in Chimaera, Literary Bohemian, Able Muse, Yellow Mama, and other venues.
Name me—a stone. With what rod shall we, branded among the any, inch out the Golgothic stunnings of our onliness? Washed sand lays sounded waves imbricate in soft scrolls, but when I prize out of those reef-shallow, solitary and galactic offices, conscripted and construed within the commas of the coved brine, the sculpt flesh vermillion of the anemone, bourned within a starry multitude of sting-inked quills shaded as the bottom waters cantering revelation, blends against my hunger’s flex and torsion of tongue, being its same tint and shade but flowered too with budded islands of salt and bitter, sweet triparted sensationings, dripping with undersea fatted unction: where in deeds are the mortal humilities of our doubting species flailing in the strew? Where, O coherence? Which is the land of the skull? Who fathers and gathers the papers ere the dead done souls lie wrapt in yellowed watery sub-archives? What darkened tongues lie tangled deep among the same moisted blood which paves Saul’s unblinding and writ road with the lain? Where withered the hortus and haruspex of our crossing? Caedmon’s fruit ripens the mind in its sackcloth of histories. Proteus of Lucian, my signature is straw bed and chowder: I am gone, bound to tell you, stitched to the milky nipple of the sea-worm’s feculent trapping, sounded to the hymn of the last incarnadine spurt, into this leathered library, where dust flows trailing along the oils. The meat of my mind leaps, undermined by its parodic radical, against its dart and kindred rope, white, whitely and wild, drenched till the humble last in another color. Figure me then, with my own skin’s ravel, ornated and loomed through the garment of a ghostly praying. O emptiness and socket! brined cauldron and caul calling out the wings of my neck-pulse! What god achieves the end within my carvings of this buoyant sepulchre? Death in the commas and death in the heave and brain of love. Fey, and away, rhetors. I, he’ll have spit on the voltage of the turn, all lines crossed, but yet the Hyperionical flame of friction unfriends my coinaged suns! I dive deep with the barbarous enrapting thing, sulphurous within it! Inscript no more of hermenutical nor nautical me. There is no time abandoned, nor none to be nursed within the whispers, if I am not time cast on the day’s dial, the hammered gold signatures and rhapsodes of threaded light.
after The Whale.
Theodore Worozbyt’s work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Antioch Review, Crazyhorse, Image, Poetry, Poetry Daily, Quarterly West, Sentence, Shenandoah, The Southern Review, TriQuarterly Online, Verse Daily and The Best American Poetry. His first book, The Dauber Wings, won the American Poetry Journal Book Prize, and his second, Letters of Transit, won the 2007 Juniper Prize. Scar Letters, a chapbook, is online at Beard of Bees Press [PDF]. Objectless Fragments, a new chapbook, is forthcoming from Apocryphal Text.
by Kir Jordan
I, a bower bird
will build and build
this thatch grass hovel
everyone deserves something
to call their own? I ask
you, receive no reply
you have never known
I am time consumed in place
obsession I must make some
corner of some locale my own
I am no hunter-gatherer
have no bow, know nothing—
survival guides, mycology
conditioned, told to nest
know nothing of nesting either
the shape of ship
need for container, vessel
need steel, will steal
am steeled and what
I have of place is stolen
having but passed these shores in brief I speak only impressionism
(I hate the impressionists)
this, nothing of light
I try to capture location
am revealed a curio shop, a postcard
Kir Jordan is currently completing his MFA thesis at Colorado State University where he is an Associate Editor of The Colorado Review. His poems have appeared in The Dead Mule, Colonnades, and the now defunct Unaffiliated Magazine.