UCSD faculty poets honored in anthology

    oetry wants to be read aloud. And who better to read aloud a poem than the poet who wrote it?

    Rae Armantrout, Michael Davidson, Fanny Howe and Eileen Myles, all faculty members of the UCSD department of literature, will give readings of their selected poems from “The Best American Poetry 2004” at 7 p.m. on Oct. 9 at D.G. Wells Bookstore in La Jolla. A yearbook of American poetry, the BAP series has been around since 1988.

    Guest editors filter masses of journals and magazines to seek out the top poems of a particular year. Lyn Heijinian, who has taught at UCSD as well, edited the book this year. Armantrout and Howe have been featured in the series before, while Davidson and Myles make their debut.

    Armantrout, a writing professor at UCSD, contributed “Almost” to the compilation. It is a short poem in two parts. The first discusses the eventual forgetting of all spoken words to all people through death or other circumstance. While it would make sense for the second part to relate to the first part, instead it describes a billboard selling a product like Viagra.

    Davidson has been around UCSD since 1974. His “Bad Modernism” is a short tornado of a piece that starts with an epitaph from John Ashbery and then jumps from “little plastic whatsits” to “party favors.” Although his poem is fairly cryptic, Davidson appears to question the value of modernity. The pace and flow of the poem would be interesting to hear, as it reads very much like a stream of consciousness.

    Howe, professor emerita of literature has been awarded the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. Her long 37-stanza “Catholic” describes a dual journey that includes both a southerly drive from Los Angeles to San Diego and a mental wandering through Catholic philosopher Thomas Aquinas’ life and work. Her descriptions of the freeway of canyons that are “groomed and pocked with bourgeois housing / developments that are built for eclipse” are incredibly gorgeous.

    Myles heads the writing program at UCSD. “No Rewriting” speaks of wild New York life in a longer, seemingly random poem. Myles waltzes across a great variety of subjects, from Sept. 11 to a stinky hermit to prime defecation locations. The unorthodox spelling, grammar and rhythm make for what will probably be an interesting reading; there is no way that this poem can be read in a boring manner.

    These acclaimed local poets’ readings’ should make for a cozy and interesting gathering and a great opportunity to see the best of the UCSD literature department at work.

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