Poetics and Poetry Discussion

Is there a book you just read, a piece of poetry news or a reading you just heard that you want to talk about? Here's the place to start a conversation.
Post a message

Click here to list all messages

Jefferson Carter Jefferson Carter Male, 92, United States (2/11/2014 9:35:00 AM)

I know you all would rather read more Tony M. silliness, but here's a review of my new book on Goodreads. Very perceptive, if I do say so myself!

Mia's review Feb 11,14
5 of 5 stars
Read in February,2014

Life Poetry: A Review of Get Serious by Jefferson Carter

It’s been a while since I have read a book of poems, in this case—GET SERIOUS by Jefferson Carter — in one sitting and thoroughly enjoyed it to the extent I went back and re-read some of the poems again. I will most likely purchase a few more books by Jefferson. The last three books that kept me as engaged were: John Spaulding’s WALKING IN STONE, Bruce Weigl’s SONG OF NAPALM and Thomas Lynch’s THE SIN-EATER. I can’t exactly say that those books were “enjoyable” in the sense that they were uplifting but they left indelible impressions because I love poetry with an authentic voice and the above authors, with the inclusion of Jefferson Carter, have been added to my library.

To that end, I can tolerate almost every kind of poetry but boring, DOA poetry which to me is the worst kind of writing to commit and, sadly, most poetry falls into that “dull-as-poetry-by-Hollywood-celebrities” category. What makes for boring poetry is also stuff written by ad execs (jingles, Hallmark) and by just about everyone-else with a keyboard and a working vocabulary at his disposal. And let’s not forget the important stuff written by the corporate-branding school of smart-sounding, academia-approved poetry that makes me want throw myself off the bridge because I might as well; it’d be preferable to contemplate ending my life than wading through one more textbook example of poetry posing as life and missing the experience entirely. Jefferson shows us how’s it’s done - pushing the boundaries of protocol, living life and being able to write about it. Consider the first poem in his book, GET SERIOUS:

That trite motif
of class conflict, a job
at the dollar store, no more
whimsy, just the modest truth
of a found phrase, “Roller
Coaster Road” or “Stone Loop.”
Where was I?Not
in the middle of my life,
not like Dante entering
the profound wood. More like
a sit-down comedian, a communist
allergic to theory, a retired
bobsledder playing
ping-pong with his wife. ~ Stone Loop

That’s it; that’s most of Jefferson in a nutshell: a “sit-down comedian, a communist/allergic to theory” and a “retired bobsledder playing/ping-pong with wife.” Is he kidding?No, he’s serious. He’s a “someone” with a job at the dollar store. Is he for real?Maybe. In that first poem you get the impression that the narrator is playful, a nonconformist and an agent provocateur of sorts, though he skates dangerously close to MFA credentials with his passing nod to Dante. However the allusion to Dante’s, “Inferno” (and " Beowulf" later in the book) is excusable because most of the literate world is familiar with Dante’s work and so the reference is not from an esoteric relic exhumed from the grave of a long-forgotten diseased figure in history. In short I love Jefferson’s work because the poems are to the point and tell it like it is:

I grip the stem of a pear
between my teeth and pull it out
like the pin of a grenade.
What a fucked up decade! ~ from Study of Three Pears

Jefferson is authentic. Some might say he’s politically incorrect and unapologetic but there’s irony in being able to pull off both well:

Not one Apache
in this audience
listening to the white man
tell stories
about Cochise.
Easy irony?I know, ~ An Apology for Wannabes

There is play and playfulness in his work that keeps his poetry lighthearted:

Oh, buffcollared nightjar
little nipple cactus, oh,
superb beardtongue,

forgive my periods
of intense folding
& faulting. I peel

the organic label
off the apple & stick it
on the cat’s head. ~ Grindstone

It is one of my favorite poems in the book because the “organic label on the cat’s head” leaves me with that unexpected “what the! huh?” moment. Then there are the impossible bad boy images that come to mind:

Cliterature just rejected
my latest poems. ~ Victim Poetry

She’s almost 90, her forehead
like an uncloudy day. She must’ve
been a beautiful baby. Now
she farts during yoga, plow pose
cow-face pose, even corpse pose,
you can hear her backfiring like
an old Vespa among the scented
candles. ~ Helen

I heard Mick Jagger’s got
a small penis. I heard Anne Waldman
recite her 900-page feminist epic,
The lovis Trilogy. A friend suggested
a lapel pin, a crown of thorns, for anyone
who finishes it... ~ Hard Wired

Before anyone screams misogynist or sexist, anti-feminist or some such epithet to demean Jefferson’s work, accept that these are merely unflattering stream-of-consciousness narratives that are actually quite funny. I mean if you don’t take everything too seriously, Jefferson offers an outlet for howling mirth with his infernal teasing; it’s hard wired, claims the narrator.

Splice into the 1980s-90s when Robert Bly became the tribal leader of the Mythopoetic Men’s Movement, the underlying premise was that men were in fear of losing their masculinity due to industrialization, fatherless roles and lack of rites of passage to manhood. Workshops and retreats used story, shamanic work, drumming, dance, music to help the wounded male get back in touch with his emotional masculinity. It sounded dubious, if not outright silly. The Mythopoetic men’s movement?Men (and women) take note: The male libido is intact, virile and alive in Jefferson’s unabashed poetry:

I forgive my internal (I wanted
to say eternal) erection. We’re
hard-wired to respond to beauty. ~ Mall

Flapped around. Practiced
safe sex. Egg white
instead of semen. ~ What I Did in Heaven

No preening, no “narcissistic poetry” for the i-Cultivated world, Jefferson tackles life with poetry head on and yet, it’s not poetry trying to be poetry. With an economy of words, his outrageous farting yoga poses, the profane becomes illuminated and the beautiful, beknighted:

Leaping inside the Johnny-Jump-Up
a twisting bag of houndstooth check
like the pants of a winter visitor,
my son giggles as I bend my body
into position three of Surya
Namaskara, the salutation
to the sun. I breathe as if I believe
yoga will make me young, a faith like
letters to the editor or small checks
mailed to an honest politician. Too
skeptical to chant Om shanti shanti,
I stop & kiss my laughing son, breathing
his odor, a sweetness the world once had. ~ Johnny-Jump-Up

To post a reply to this message, click here
Replies for this message:


  • Freshman - 837 Points Lamont Palmer (2/12/2014 3:24:00 AM) Post reply
    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.

    I won't even dignify that accusation with a denial. Suffice it to say, you all get dumber and dumber with each post. Lets see, I'm supposed to be Plum, Marti, Scotty, Delilah, the dot and dash guy, and one or two others. Frankly I'm one of the few who isn't afraid to say anything bluntly as myself. A reputation I am proud of. -LP

  • Rookie - 50 Points Alexander Rizzo (2/11/2014 3:04:00 PM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

    I'm not sure if you're joking or not, Scott, but this is a review from a reader, not a real literary critic; and I'm speaking as someone who is working toward that goal. That said, I found these snippets to be interestingly dark and comic. I didn't realize anyone in here had books out.

    Replies for this message:
    • Rookie - 50 Points Jefferson Carter (2/11/2014 10:43:00 PM) Post reply

      A (whoever you are) , Mia is a good poet and educated writer. If being a literary critic means making your living by doing it, then she's not one. Neither are 95% of the writers online and elsewher ... more

  • Rookie - 22 Points Harry Lindsay (2/11/2014 12:12:00 PM) Post reply

    Jefferson Carter (12/25/2013 7: 42: 00 PM) Post reply
    Marti, it's too bad you discovered you don't like poetry so much, but please don't blame poetry for the show-offs and mentally unbalanced lame nuts polluting this site. Think of their presence as an obstacle you might be able to overcome that will strengthen your love of words and, eventually, poetry. That's what I've found. Hoping you have a Good New Year!

    Jefferson Carter Male,91, United States (12/12/2013 10: 19: 00 AM)
    PHers, I just got this email. The SW best books of the year is a HUGE kudo, coming out in southern Arizona's major morning newspaper, the " Arizona Daily Star." Hell, we just may see sales shoot through the roof!

    Mr. Carter, sir,
    Not only did I read it, I thought it was terrific and made it one of my picks. When the list finally comes out (next week?) you will see the following somewhere in it:

    Get Serious: New & Selected Poems–Jefferson Carter
    Filled with fun as well as thoughtful innuendo, Carter’s poetry is not geographical per se but is informed (if you will) by his 60+ year residence in Tucson, Arizona. And so...we are not surprised when a poem titled “An Apology for Wannabes” begins “Not one Apache/in the audience/listening to the/bearded white man/tell stories/about Cochise.” Wonderful humor, terrific images, hardly a rhyme in sight.

    Ran Deynolds (12/8/2013 4: 18: 00 PM) Post reply
    OK now that all the pu$$ies have pouted and left let's commit ourselves to brutal honest comments. Anyone posting can expect to receive honest comments. The only way anyone will improve their writing is through the most honest critiques. No more holding back. We have now gotten rid of the deadwood. There is a difference between an honest critique and a comment meant to insult. Peter Stavoropolous was too syrupy. Jim Howg was just plain stenchy. To our favorite cr@ck h0e, please find more exciting poetry from now on. Even Big Bird may one day become as good as he thinks he is already. He will most likely never fly but that another matter. Hail to our new forum order leader Dr. Jefferson Carter. Hail, Hail. Please lead us to poetic salvation. Thousand year....never mind just poetic salvation......oh make way some big fat bird is waddling over...what, are those big wings?no nubs...huge nubs where the wings should be...I have never seen such big nubs....anyway Hail to our new leader...

    Ran Deynolds (12/7/2013 5: 08: 00 PM) Post reply
    Here is our take on this forum's prominent big mouths.

    Best to medium:

    1-Jefferson Carter(I love his poem Sunlight among many others)

    distant 6th Scotty Dogg(moving up fast) , Lamont Palmer(6 1/2 -7, just so he doesn't implode) , Sherrie Kolb-Cassel (6 1/2 -7, yes the cr@ck hoe) , Mike Slacker(6 1/2 -7, moving up fast)

    if you are into maudlin stenchy rhyme add Hola Monterosa 8th Jim Hogg in 9th

    Worst of the worst:

    Peter Stavropoulos(barf bag poetry)

    Jefferson Carter (12/7/2013 12: 35: 00 PM) Post reply | Read 4 replies
    PHers, I recently posted this on the poetry writing site and the freeform site. Any responses so far?Guess....

    I recently retired from 30 years teaching poetry writing at Pima Community College in Tucson. My ninth collection, " Get Serious: New and Selected Poems, " has just been published by Chax Press, Tucson. If you'd like someone to mentor you in your quest to become a better poet, I'm offering my services for the cost of a copy of my new book
    ($ 16) . Google my name to find out more about me. Contact me by a PH message if you're interested. JC

    Blue Bird (1/28/2014 5: 35: 00 PM) Post reply
    JC - you asked to be kept out of the argument - and now it looks like you're goading LP. What's up with that?

[Hata Bildir]