I visit the zoo.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Visitor: Let me try this one on you. It's "Ignis Fatuus" by Yusef Komunyakaa. Lyn Hejinian put it in BAP2004. You'll like it.
* reads it to Chameleon *
Visitor: And?

Chameleon: I never went in for that furren stuff.

Visitor: He's a black guy from Louisiana. He probably knows his swamps. His Trinidadian great-grandparents had the name Komunyakaa, then they lost it and became Brown when they went to America, so the poet started out as James Willie Brown Jr. of Bogalusa, Louisiana, but he took back the old family name. Now he's mister famous.

Komunyakaa says that "Poetry is a kind of distilled insinuation." And here it is in this poem. This "ignis fatuus" "foolish fire" "Will o' the Wisp" glow in the swamp floats through the first half of the poem. Then it's someone in the breath on the back of your neck and the sweat in the air and "luminous buttons" and other things left behind. By Someone. It's a good, simple poem. It suggests, insinuates. It's probably not the sort of poem a Language poet would go for, and 'tain't no Flarf, but who's asking them?

Chameleon: Mm-hmm.

Visitor: You could at least look at me when I'm talking to you.

Chameleon: I am.

Visitor: Hey, where'd you go?


At 10:21 AM, Blogger chris said...

Malcolm, this is a super, good-spirited way to take that anthology apart (to then put it back agajn) without inflicting too many presumptuous ideological farm-a-tions on it. Thanks for the read!

chris m

At 7:14 PM, Blogger eeksypeeksy said...

Thanks, Chris. I'm surprised anyone likes it.


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