Friday, April 13, 2012
Six years running into the present regime, no one questions the normalcy of our lunacy, or vice versa. With another capacity crowd expected at Alabama’s open scrimmage tomorrow, the only news is that it’s not news. It’s a relativist’s paradise, or nightmare. Who can tell?
Maybe Michael Robbins, whose greatly anticipated collection of poems (yes, such a thing), Alien vs. Predator, was released last week to cooing voices and raised eyebrows. With Paul Muldoon’s (literal) imprimatur in the New Yorker and his own ego in print through various reviews, Robbins is pretty close to bulletproof when criticism is concerned. No one’s going to be the first mole to stick out his head to get whack-a’d while he’s holding the only mallet.
Not that Robbins would deserve to be, either. His manic, compulsive, curious, pissy wit is just as much on display in his poetry as his reviews, wherein he routinely demolishes the antiquated and archaic faux-pastoral sensibility that enshrouds too much contemporary American verse.
Years ago, while serving overpriced shots to hard timers coming in or going off factory shifts and with still too many college professors’ voices in my head, I came up with an idea for a poem. I would title it “Commerce” and it would start “There is no poetry in it.”
That’s as far as I got.
Looking through Michael Robbins’s book, I’m glad too. He not only proved that idea wrong, but did so in about thirty different ways. His world is our world. Garish. Tacky. For sale. Built with an implied obsolescence.
I could start picking apart the lines here. Pulling out the allusions to obscure writers and top-40 divas, but on their own, they’d seem like jokes. And even though the lines are funny (when’s the last time anyone’s been able to say that?), the poems, in toto, are serious stuff.
I highly doubt Michael Robbins is a football fan. He strikes me more the True Panther Sounds listener than, say, Paul Finebaum. Hell, he might even be one of those anti-sports dudes who compensates for the bullying he took in school by making you feel like shit for not knowing that song in the Verizon commercial, and that’s too bad. Football was good enough for James Wright, after all. But besides that, in football, Robbins would find the aesthetic he advocates in verse: an assembly of loud and repulsive instincts harnessed into pleasing music.
Strike up the band.