Quarter After Eight is an annual literary journal devoted to the exploration of experimental writing in all its permutations. We celebrate work that directly challenges the conventions of language, style, voice, or idea in literary form. This blog is a place to engage in conversations about the work we publish, as well as the work that inspires us.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

What Is (If There Is) Midwest Poetry?

In QAE 16, John Bradley offered this piece of is-it-a-poem-or-is-it-literary-criticism, in which he asks “What is (if there is) Midwest poetry?” Whatever it is, it’s provocative and it’s beautiful. But QAE lives in the Midwest, so we may be biased.

“If I Say It Is”: An Unscientific Survey in Response to the Question “What Is (If There Is) Midwest Poetry?”
John Bradley

Carl Sandburg: “I asked the professors who teach the meaning of meaning and they told me about their lawns.”

Lorine Niedecker: “I was born where I was born water borne.”

Jeff Tweady: Who gave you my e-mail address?”
Former Illinois Governor George Ryan: “You won’t believe all the poems I’ve been writing since I got here.”

Lisel Mueller: “It must have a belly button and an anus.”

Arielle Greenberg: “Did you know that Kafka washed his hands before he went to the bathroom?”

Nin Andrews: “An orgasm knows no east or west.”

Vachel Lindsay: “Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, Boom.”

Edgar Lee Masters: “They still read Spoon River? Really?”

James Tate: “I think it’s now made in China.”

Lucien Stryk (Or Possibly Shinkichi Takahashi): “Don’t wear argyle socks at a convention of arsonists.”

Lorine Niedecker: “In a spoon in a church in a janitor’s closet in a spool of thread on the edge of a hospital bed on the spine of a book of do-it-yourself plumbing repair.”

Robert Bly: “Wasn’t that you  in the hammock on Duffy’s farm?”

Meridel LeSeuer: “Ask the corn. Ask the milkweed. Ask the idiot who keeps asking the same thing over and over.”

Bob Dylan: “A democracy of the tired.”

Jim Harrison: “I dreamed that I dreamed I was giving birth to a crow who asked me what I was doing dreaming this dream.”

Ted Kooser: “You’re asking the wrong geranium.”

Oprah: “Who gave you my email address?”

Jesse Ventura: “You should ask the Dalai Lama.”

The Dalai Lama: “You ask funny questions.”

Vachel Lindsay: “Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, Boom.”

Donald Hall: “I once put together an anthology of Midwest poetry. But no one wanted to publish it. Not even publishers in the Midwest.”

Gwendolyn Brooks: “Articulated, syncopated silence.”

Leon Kottke: “I never heard that played on a lead-pipe flute before.”

George Kalamaras: “Wash your Ganges every day.”

Laura Bush: “All poetry is American poetry.”

Bucky Halker: “It sounds so much better on steel guitar.”

Mary Bradley: “I don’t know anything about poetry, John. You know I prefer crossword puzzles.”

Lorine Niedecker: “In the tiny spider dangling from the tip of this pen.”

Kent Johnson: “Who can say what’s poetry and what’s not?”

Joan Cusack: “Who gave you my cell number?”

Billy Corgan: “Are you still trying to figure that out?”

Garrison Keillor: “There was a young poet from Winona, who was always composing a sestina, wherever he went, he added its scent, and now he delivers pizza.”

Liz Phair: “You never know what you’ll find in the dumpster.”

Catfish Keith: “The Washed Out, Blown Away, Dried Out, What’s That Smell Midwest Blues.”

Maria Sabina: “Place a pinch between your cheek and gum.”

John Prine: “Just cuz.”

Georgia O’Keeffe: “Watch your top knot.”

Ernest Hemingway: “And you yourn.”

Sandra Cisneros: “The Midwest is every place. There is no such place as the Midwest.”

Mavis Staple: “Honey, if I say it is, it is.”

Vachel Lindsay: “Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, Boom.”

Your answer in the comments space below...

1 comment:

  1. Kathryn NuernbergerApril 10, 2011 at 2:52 PM

    Loving St. Louis hometown boy T. S. Eliot even as he affects a British accent.