post about Phil Levine, I was reminded that the new Poet Laureate of the US was among the poets who generously agreed to send us something for Madrona's 1972 invitational issue. Other poets included w.j. higginson, Tomas Tranströmer translated by Robery Bly, William Stafford, Richard Hugo, James Merrill, Alan Dugan, Eve Triem, David Ignatow, David Wagoner, William Matchett, Beth Bentley, James Humphrey, Donald Finkel, Paul Zimmer and David Young, plus contributions from all three of the magazine’s editors.
Levine not only sent us the artfully handwritten poem above but also included a photograph of the woman he said he was in love with at that time. I assume Levine remembers the woman but wouldn’t it be nice to think he also remembers the magazine and the poem accompanying her picture?
Believe it or not, this linguistically gifted, high-achiever of a mighty big mouse jumped from LOWER level to HIGHER—an ordeal usually requiring anywhere from 180 to 360 classroom teaching hours—after only 60 hours of intensive language instruction at one of the many RAT RACE SCHOOLS OF ENGLISH that have overrun the private language school sector in Greece—how did he perform that difficult task, you might ask. Elementary, my dears—He bamboozled his teachers by pretending English was not all Greek to him!
[Transcript of teacher instructing pupil] OK, Let’s try it again. C’mon buddy, there you go, eh, there you go, jump up again, c’mon!
NB: The few language schools that have remained loyal to cherished old teaching methods are now using the following poem as a stopgap teaching aid and rallying cry to ward off any more assaults on their turf. Suffice to say, these language schools—including the Zambara School of English—admit only cats, or in case English is all Greek to you—γάτες!
In between swimming and relaxing, most of my creative energies these past five days were spent trying to come to terms with a manuscript (see photo above, courtesy of Eleni) that I’ve been wrestling with over the past 25 years and which has burgeoned from a chapbook of about 40 poems to a monster ms. now comprised of approximately 120. I don’t even want to think about how many times I’ve inserted new poems into the ms. or taken old ones out, or how often I’ve juggled the poems in a vain attempt to find the best possible arrangement or how the much smaller original manuscript was accepted by a publisher in England back in the 90s but who later informed me that he couldn’t do it owing to a lack of funds or that about ten years ago, I sent a longer version to a small-press publisher in the western US who rejected it after two years or that five years after that, I sent another even longer version to a small-press publisher on the east coast who also rejected it after two years—all of which leads me to what Joe Hutchison has to say about Bill Knott’s post re publishing one’s work: Do you DIY or keep sending it out in hopes that some publisher will mercifully DI4U—perhaps even before you die?