Mar. 24, 2009

According to the Big Bopper...

by Gregory Orr

More stores being built...

by Gregory Orr

Hoarding your joys and despairs...

by Gregory Orr

According to the Big Bopper...

According to the Big Bopper
In the immortal "Chantilly
Lace," a wiggle
In the walk is one ingredient
That makes the world
Go round.
Sappho also noted
Twenty-six centuries ago
As she watched Anactoria's
Hips shift while she strolled
And wrote: "Whatever
One loves most is beautiful."

Book so full of wisdom,
Stuffed with it. Crammed
With astute observations
About anatomy in action!

More stores being built...

More stores being built
On the corner. More things
To buy and sell.
                       The beloved
Is lost — she can't be
Bought; he canít be sold.

For the price of a poem
The beloved is yours again.

If you can't afford that,
Write one of your own.

Hoarding your joys and despairs...

Hoarding your joys and despairs
As if they were clothes
You bought but never wore.

Look at this bright shirt:
A possibility you glimpsed
But feared to seize.

The beloved is waiting.
You have a date.
Put on that shirt before it fades.

"According to the Big Bopper...", "More stores being built..." and "Hoarding your joys and despairs..." by Gregory Orr, from How Beautiful the Beloved. © Copper Canyon Press, 2009. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It's the birthday of journalist and social critic Malcolm Muggeridge, (books by this author) born in Croydon, Surrey, England (1903). In 1953 he became the editor of the British humor magazine Punch. Muggeridge eventually left after he got tired of his staff; he said they were "all anguished men, trying to discover what, if anything, was funny." He said, "It was a somber place, haunted by old jokes and lost laughter. Life, as I discovered, holds no more wretched occupation than trying to make the English laugh." He also said, "Bad humor is an evasion of reality; good humor is an acceptance of it."

It's the birthday of journalist and critic Dwight Macdonald, (books by this author) born in New York City (1906). He was a staff writer for The New Yorker for 20 years, and he wrote a political memoir, Memoirs of a Revolutionist: Essays in Political Criticism (1957).

It's the birthday of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, (books by this author) born in Yonkers, New York (1919). He's a painter, a poet, and the owner of City Lights Bookstore, which he founded in San Francisco in 1953. The bookstore is on Columbus Avenue at Broadway, in the North Beach neighborhood. He's written about North Beach, describing the churches and parks and old Italians "with gnarled hands and wild eyebrows/ the ones with the baggy pants with both belt & suspenders/ the grappa drinkers with teeth like corn."

Two years after he opened City Lights bookstore, he began a publishing company of the same name. He published Allen Ginsberg's Howl, and Ferlinghetti was tried for obscenity. He was defended by the American Civil Liberties Union, and the case went all the way to the Supreme Court. Ferlinghetti was acquitted, and the decision became an important First Amendment precedent.

In 1998, he was named San Francisco's first poet laureate. He said that the items on his agenda included tilting the Coit Tower so that it leaned like the Tower of Pisa and painting the Golden Gate Bridge gold, instead of a reddish color.

He wrote:

Constantly risking absurdity
and death
whenever he performs
above the heads
of his audience
the poet like an acrobat
climbs on rime
to a high wire of his own making.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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