[ToC]

 

3 POEMS

Joseph Chapman

A FEW FAILED THEORIES OF ARCHITECTURE

In the perfect illusion
In the perfect illusion

 

            If you label an entrance an entrance
            you've already failed

           
            This is a fact of architecture

 

I do not think it is raining

I do not think it is actually raining

 


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A FEW FAILED THEORIES OF KITSCH

If I hear Phil Collins once more in this dentist's office,                   
I'm going to shoot myself

 

The phrase is 'If thine eye offends thee'

 

               , my body beside itself

 

 

I'm not sure you understand

 

This painting of a flower has no right to interpretation

 


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ISN'T THE WORD 'HIATUS' FUNNY

I've been selling myself more

, getting by on my looks

 

 

Sometimes

you feel like you're on top of things

 

 

Then the obscure bird
Then the obscure bird

 

clamors the livelong night

 

 

 


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Although I don't often set arbitrary writing challenges for myself, these poems did come out of a few self-imposed mandates: first, to be less dependent on the image as central technique; second, to introduce tonal fractures into my work; and third, to write a complete poem each morning before I turned my attention to my teaching and freelance obligations. Some of these mandates were related to a lecture I had recently delivered at Sweet Briar College titled "The Skittery Poem, Postmodernism, and Anthony McCann's Ninja Poetics." The lecture suggests that some sly combination of sincerity and irony, which McCann makes us of in first collection "The Father of Noise," might offer poets a way out of an ultimately stifling and one-dimensional ironic tone. (The lecture tries to address Tony Hoagland's fear -- articulated in his essay "Fear of Narrative and the Skittery Poem of Our Moment" -- that much of contemporary American poetry avoids emotional engagement through its playful, ironic distance.) So, without really meaning to respond to my own lecture, I found myself writing poems that strove to be both emotionally engaged and ironically detached. Or, rather, I found myself writing poems that swung from ironic and playful distance to a place of vulnerability. I'm not sure if I succeeded, or if these poems are even a good testament to my thinking about irony at that time, but they're at least a poetic record of those concerns.