Saturday, September 19, 2009


Poetry Vanishes from the Print Post - My Letter Ran!

Poets had gotten used to not being considered part of the "Arts" by The Post, e.g., the Sept. 13 Fall Arts Preview: Art -- Film -- Music -- Theater -- Dance. After all, we had the Literary Calendar on a Book World page and the marvelous Poet's Choice column: an actual poem in each Sunday's paper that acted as a small window into another way of seeing, amid the journalistic and opinion pieces. Now the stand-alone Book World is gone, and in its place are a few reviews in the Outlook section and a sadly foreshortened Literary Calendar. Poet's Choice is only on the Web, with a bare reference on Page B8.

Read the letter, which they ran in full, here:

Then consider writing your own letter to or post comments on this letter. Thanks!

Dear Ms. Browning,

Thanks for your letter in this morning's Post.

Among other things, I'm the editor of our weekly Poet's Choice column. Your letter will prod us to publicize this marvelous on-line column more effectively in the paper. There's a very very tiny note about it in Outlook every Sunday, but I'd like to get a box about it onto the Books page every Wednesday in Style, too.

Best wishes,

Ron Charles, Deputy Editor
Washington Post Book World
Hi Sarah-- We're acquainted fro a gig you did at Cafe Muse back in '07. I traded my book for "Whiskey..." I got the better of that exchange! In support of your letter I posted my poem to the Post--


Adam awoke in the Garden of Eden.
And God commanded him to speak
and he said, “Duh.”
For in the beginning was the Syllable
and Eve ate of the Tree of Knowledge
Aytz Hada-at they learned the Word
and the words together the Sentence
and as they went out of the Garden sayeth Adam
"Roses are red
violets blue"
and Poetry was born into the world.

And we listened to the sweet songs of David
and the blind bard who told us the tales of heroes of an old war
and the bard of England tragedies comedies iambs dactyls trochees
Odes to Urns and Xanadu the albatross Haste thee nymph
ragged claws scuttling golden daffodils

And I have had a dream I had a dream nothing to fear but fear
Four score and twenty years ago our fathers a small step for
Man a great step for ich bin ein Berliner I am not a crook
My name is Ishmael
I am an American, Chicago born

But then the words and the words piled on the words
and we couldn’t breathe, suffocated by the blather poetry
strangled language corrupted obscene-- artists splatter paint the music
cacophonous lyrics banal-- fanatics blow themselves up blow us up
the streets buckling bridges rusting everything crumbling
and the cars all the cars out of gas and the banks
the banks all out of money.

I wander through neighborhoods of foreclosed
shuttered houses lots abandoned to round-eared
mongrel dogs along the cracked sidewalks pedestrians
without destinations shuffle listlessly. I ask,
What happened, what happened?
They stare like cattle waiting for the mallet
and say, “Wha, wha?-- Oh, duh.”

Lew Schneider aka "Israel Lewis."

Pasting into this space lost some italics, line breaks, and other niceties, but it comes out OK, I guess.
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