Thursday, January 27, 2005

A Flower Poem

Poems are supposed to be about flowers,
tulips, roses, buds,
trees and cats and Grecian urns
Soft sonnets sweetly sung,
pleasure's harmonious glow
Life is good, for some

Enjoy! Enjoy! Forget your troubled struggled life
of sweatshop hours
of cubicles and clocks
the waiting rat race'd prison'd world
with windows sealed, exits barred,
doors forever closed
Remember beauty and flowers!

But I don't want to talk about flowers.

-King Wenclas
(From the zeen Hot Poetry.)

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jesus Christ, King, is this the stuff of revolution? This may be the only poem I've read that's even more cliche, useless, and precious that what the establishment churns out.

Hell, everything between the first and last line of the second stanza is just one giant chain of risible, thoughtless, artless, received cliche. Are we even touching on "soft sonnets sweetly sung"?

Any literary revolution whose writing is as hackneyed as a Hallmark card might as well close up shop.

Anonymous said...

Great poem - both in technique and substance.

The title and the second stanza stand out in particular because they work both literally and ironically.

The ending line/stanza is both surprising and pointed - as is the entire poem.

For traditionalists and rebels, the poem obviously fulfills Horace's dictum that poetry should both "delight and instruct."

And (and yet) the poem takes on tradition by both dissenting against binding limitations and affirming and taking a stance on urgent issues and realities that poetry is fully capable of handling and needs to - and in so doing is lively, thoughtful, vital.

Tony Christini

Noah Cicero said...

There are several things about this poem that are revolutionary.
"Poems are supposed to be about flowers," and the following four lines.
Wenclas is saying that the only poetry that gets into the main mags and in the canon are poems that don't concern anything having to do with reality or people. Because flowers are a meaningless plant, why does it deserve a poem. The only organism that should write poems about flowers are Bees.
"Life is good, for some"
This is a remark concerning class division. I've read the James Nowlan, Tim Hall, And Crazy Carl books, they also remark on the difference between the classes and show scorn of the upper classes in their books. As far I know this is the first time in American Literature that so many different writers form different locationas approached the subject of class. There is an obvious new ideology in ULA writing.
"the waiting rat race'd prison'd world
with windows sealed, exits barred,
doors forever closed"
That is direct mention of how people cannot lift themselves up by their bootstraps. The U.S depression is too intense, we are all doomed to a life of struggle with no awards for it, just punishments like having our social security taken away, seeing our relatives sent off to war, and seeing people die because they have no health insurance because they thought spinal menegetis was the flu.
"Flowers" seems to me to symbolize the lies of the ruling classes that hard work pays off, that we should have pride in our factory work, that our lives mean something, when they don't mean shit at all. The flowers are lies.
"But I don't want to talk about flowers." is saying I don't want to talk about lies and bullshit, i want to talk about the sweatshops, how we are doomed to suffering, about concrete reality."
The ULA writings are at the core of the problem in America, all the crisis and wars in America, all the terrorism and stupidity can be traced back to this poem and the writings of The ULA. I kepp finding the same themes in ULA writing, Class-division, alienation, and disillusionment.
The demi-puppets biggest fear is content that concerns reality, they are terrified of content. But they are so dead in the brain, their thought processes so devoid of reality they don't even notice the content anymore, content means nothing to them.

King said...

The first poster doesn't get that in the first part I'm mocking such poems. Oh well! Can't please everyone.

Anonymous said...

There was an upsurge of class conscious and revolutionary novels in the U.S. in the 1930s. University of Illinois Press has republished a number of these in their Radical Novel Reconsidered series. These (proletarian) novelism are mainly, maybe solely, realistic in style--a style that I think more often works better in non-fiction.

Some class conscious/revolutionary novels that I think are remarkable in a variety of ways include: especially, The Iron Heel by Jack London, also Plutocracy; or, American White Slavery by Thomas Norwood, Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach. Others include Life in the Iron Mills by Rebecca Harding Davis, Yonnodio by Tillie Olsen, Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, The Dispossessed by Ursula LeGuin, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein, Ishmael Reed's The Terrible Twos (about the Reagan years). I think also Starhawk's novels, though I'm more familiar with her activism than with her novels. Also a number of the novels by Upton Sinclair, and I think most of Howard Fast's many novels. And this is far from a comprehensive list. Kathryn Hume's overview of social/political novels American Dream, American Nightmare: Fiction Since 1960 looks at more. As do other critics of the past century who've studied this type of writing; in particular, Walter B. Rideout in The Radical Novel in the United States. And Bernard Smith in Forces in Literary Criticism. Critic Maxwell Geismar's memoir, long neglected, Reluctant Radical is a must read. As is his American Moderns: From Rebellion to Conformity.

And Bartleby.com has this on William Dean Howells, often referred to as America's leading man of letters at the end of the nineteenth century (http://www.bartleby.com/187/9.html). I haven't gotten to the works below, would like to. His realistic novels I've found to be rather dry. But here's Bartleby:

"In his Utopian romances, A Traveler from Altruria (1894) and Through the Eye of the Needle (1907), without compromise with the economic system under which he had been bred, William Dean Howells threw it incontinently over—though how urbanely and serenely!—in favor of the system of his imaginary Altruria, where all work is honorable and servants are unknown, where capital and interest are only memories, where equality is complete, and men and women, in the midst of beauty, lead lives that are just, temperate, and kind. Besides these exotic matters Howells touched closer ones. No man spoke out more firmly or ringingly on behalf of the Chicago “anarchists” or against the annexation of the Philippines and the attendant saturnalia of imperialism. Had he been by disposition a fighting man he might have become a national voice."

Tony Christini

Anonymous said...

Thanks Tony for giving those titles and Authors names, I'll look some of them up soon.
What I think I should have said is that Hall, Robinson, and Nowlan's books aren't political books, they address the issue here and there as it pops up in life. The books are not overtly political like London's The Iron Heel. The story is going along and when a distinction between the classes is shown to a character they don't shy away from it. they mention what happened, how it happened, and don't play around it. and don't say things if, "If i could only win the lottery I would show that guy." The thought process is, "If that is what it means to be rich, I don't fucking want it."

Noah Cicero

King said...

While The Iron Heel was an obvious influence on my (and Jackman's) ideas about the ULA, in my opinion The Octopus by Frank Norris is a better novel than any of those mentioned. It's not about the working class, but about independent ranchers being destroyed by monopolists. Its value is that it depicts what's happening in this economy the last 20 years-- and it has scenes of unbelievable power. Great narrative drive throughout, tremendous passion. It's not just a social novel, but embraces other aspects of life as well. In my opinion the Great American Novel-- only Gatsby comes close to it. (Which of course itself is very very much about class in the U.S.)
Norris was heavily influenced by Zola-- but by Dumas as well (at his best an amazing novelist), and so he went beyond Zola in what he was able to do with the novel. A lot of 30s novels don't hold up; they're not "full" as novels-- they're not really literature, and so they limit their power. But what do I know? I've been re-reading Hamlet, still trying to figure it out! (I can't determine if he wants us to feel pathos about Ophelia-- or to laugh at her. Her death as related in the play borders on the comic.)

Anonymous said...

bland bland bland.

perhaps you should check out an MFA program.

this poetry is not "hot". it is boring.

no quantity of exclamation points will save you!

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