Monday, May 26, 2014

Even If I Gave This a Really Intriguing Title, You Probably Wouldn’t Remember It: Guest post by Matt Mauch, #BLauthor7

"Cyan and Wheat," by Sheri L. Wright
We asked #BLauthor7 Matt Mauch to write a guest post for us, and he delivered in a big way, as he is prone to do.

Mauch's essay touches on the personal, political, and universal in poetry. It's a long read, and we were going to post it in two or three parts, but screw that because there are footnotes, and it has to be some sort of crime to cut this particular poet off in the middle of his thoughtful critique of the state of po things.

Basically, Mauch can have our mic for has long as he wants it. And damn if he doesn't drop it at the end, but not before elevating poets to god status.

Pour a brew or two, settle into your comfy chair, and enjoy Mauch's words, plus art by Sheri L. Wright: 

"Even If I Gave This a Really Intriguing Title, You Probably Wouldn’t Remember It," by Matt Mauch

Let’s start with Walt Whitman. Walt Whitman: poet, essayist, journalist, debater, teacher, American, transcendentalist, realist, trashy, profane, obscene, government worker, deist, democrat, champion of free-verse, sexual explorer, nurse, obsessive-compulsive reviser, self-publisher, who said in the preface of his great gift to the rest of us, Leaves of Grass, “This is what you shall do: love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning god, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, reexamine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem.” Or he said that if the black sans serif letters, on a white background, no caps (because ‘no caps’ is either (a) chic or (b) it emulates electronic communication and by doing so says things about its own coolness that hover below language itself), on the 3-inch by 3-inch magnet on my oven can be believed. Makers and sellers of this magnet, whose content is in the public domain, and no longer protected by copyright, have joined with the makers and sellers of t-shirts and posters, upon which you can also purchase portions of the famous preface, or if you’re more bold, more inclined to permanence, you can emulate the many who have had excerpts tattooed to their very own very flesh, images available via Google search.

It’s simplistic to say that the flower children of the 1960s all grew up to be today’s captains of industry, that the tendency to get more conservative with age has afflicted everyone, that all Woodstock revelers are like former radical lefty turned radical righty David Horowitz2, considered infamous or famous depending upon which camp one sides with, because (this is why it’s simplistic) there will always be exceptions to even the most time-tested trends. But thinking along those lines, the flaws in that kind of throw-one-big-blanket-over-it-all-and-call-it-warm-and-fuzzy thinking freely admitted, it is strange—and this is me alone speaking for me alone—to have grown up in a what felt like a democracy that had important and influential democratizing elements ingrained in it, and to be likely to die in what feels an oligarchy where important and influential democratizing elements have in large part been tamed out of us. And not only do I, speaking as and for myself, feel this way, but I also have to bring to the table what seems to be a constant in the equation: that the same group of adults ahead of me have always been the ones in charge.

When I say I grew up in a democracy with important and influential elements, I mean, for starters, real grassroots protests, which were covered on TV and in the press, and which could influence the positions of elected officials. I mean a media that served the many in their struggle against the few, a media that was of, by, and for the people, and wasn’t concentrated in the hands of, and to serve the interests of, primarily the puppet masters of a few global corporations. I mean unions that people were proud to belong to, and strikes by those unions, when called for, that gave workers a real say in the work they did and the compensation they received for it. I mean being able to rely upon publicly operated public entities like electric companies, colleges, and roads. I mean public spaces and publicly funded buildings named things like Veterans Stadium and the Hubert Horatio Humphrey Metrodome. I mean the threat of a presidential impeachment for important constitutional reasons that led a shamed sitting president of the United States to resign3. I mean the real sense that votes were sacred. I mean people who wouldn’t even tell you who they voted for (my own parents wouldn’t tell me) because everybody was in it together and the sense was that we’d make the best decision for all of us that way—doing our thing in private, for the public good.

When I say I will likely die in an oligarchy where where important and influential democratizing elements have in large part been tamed out of us, I mean things like the dominance of celebrity culture and infotainment and partisan pandering taking over for the kind of news that a democratic society needs in order to give its informed consent. I mean people who are proud to vote against their own cumulative interests and have no desire to consider, let alone vote for, a common good, yet are proud to cast a vote on the basis of taking this or that side of a divisive issue that will never go away, because if it goes away the incumbents who get reelected in election after election will no longer have their hot-buttons to push to rally the hot-button base. I mean by every measure a dwindling middle class in terms of everything that is important not only to the middle class itself, but those who endeavor to join it, and to a country whose legitimacy is dependent upon it. I mean so-called public spaces and publicly funded buildings no longer named after public heroes but after our illustrious corporate citizens, giving us Target® Field, Mall of America® Field, Lincoln Financial® Field, et cetera, etc. I mean shoddy service and worse-than-shoddy treatment from what were previously publicly operated entities, like electric companies, colleges, and roads, after they’ve either been sold to private, for-profit corporations, or, essentially, in the case of our colleges, co-opted by privatization’s worldview. I mean a nation that’s richer on paper than is beyond anybody’s wildest dreams, with that almost impossible to fathom wealth concentrated in, and more and more passed along to, the hands of the few, who via their lobbyists and special-interest groups write policies that the elected officials they bankroll enact as law, allowing the corporations that the ultra-rich few own and control to use the economies and peoples of the entire planet in a “do this or else we’ll leave you with nothing” game that depresses wages and working conditions and morale for all but those super-wealthy few, who take far more than their share of these astronomical profits, oh such wealth that that the world has never seen. I mean an America where the phrase “the land of opportunity” resonates most when used ironically, or as a pun. I mean votes that, if you’re allowed to cast one, if you have the right papers, if you can get to the polls before or after work, before they close, if you can stand in line and hold your bowels until it’s your turn, if the computer actually records your preference, don’t seem to matter all that much, given the scant differences between the options on the ballot, if you follow the money trails4.

One of the epiphanies of my life occurred shortly after I discovered poetry for what poetry was, poetry for what secretly poetry offered, poetry as I understand and live it today, which epiphany didn’t happen until my twenties and to happen required my immersion in an undergraduate education—not training, but an education—from a great liberal arts college with stellar faculty in the breadbasket of the USA, at a time when that sort of education was available to the children of the middle class, albeit with student loans that the children—or child in my case—wouldn’t be able to pay off until he or she was 47 years old5. That epiphany, in a nutshell, was this: I came to believe—to truly believe—that if everybody were a poet we would have a world without war, without famine, without poverty, without starvation, without hate, without assassination, without add-your-personal-favorite-centuries-old scourge-upon-the-“humans with”-living-with-“other humans without” condition, a world, in fact, without heartbreak of any kind lasting long, for if it were announced by one poem, then surely there would be a subsequent poem that would soothe it.

As I have become a poet with books out and not just a poet making poems day after day—as I have, by luck, chance, fate, whatevs, evolved from a poet who identifies primarily as a reader to one who no longer has the option to identify that way, but is thought of, when writing things like this, primarily as a writer, as a poet—I find that the old epiphany no longer rings true. Quite sadly (and if I were telling you this in my home I would probably say quite motherfucking sadly) I have seen far too many examples of pettiness among those whom I thought would be the standard bearers of a new, better, poetic world order. I have seen poets grouse about not being able to get the blurbs they want, poets feeling disrespected because they haven’t gotten enough reviews, or haven’t gotten reviews that lavish them with sufficient praise, or haven’t gotten reviews in the hip places they sooo want to get reviews from, or what’s even worse is when they grouse about other poets getting more recognition than them, getting awards they didn’t get, getting published where they haven’t been published, et cetera, etc.—what I’ve seen, essentially, is all sorts of jealousy arising because the poets themselves have accepted, say I speaking for me, the parameters our system of capitalism has placed upon their poetry, their art.

So I was naive. Just as the flower children of the 1960s had their idealism tested, so did I, and that idealism fell short of the world I used to test it in. Realism won. But just like the flower children who were exceptions to the “everybody will become a conservative” rule—the flower children who see David Horowitz as a traitor to the cause—I wasn’t ready to give up the dream. And I’m not alone. There are reams of pithy things that have been said since our sayings have been recorded about the noble role of poets and poetry, writers and writing in the world. I love almost all of them, how quintessentially inspiring they are, and have tried over the years to collect as many as I can.

“Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard,” says Anne Sexton. “A poet is someone who stands outside in the rain hoping to be struck by lightning,” says James Dickey. “The life of a writer is absolute hell compared with the life of a businessman . . . A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom,” says Roald Dahl. “Writing should be done on your knees,” says William Maxwell. “Always pull back—and see how silly we must look to God,” says Jack Kerouac. “Why do I write? To discover the Gods I don’t believe in,” says Bruce Pratt. “Our poems are what the gods couldn’t make without going through us,” says Dean Young. “As if no one had ever tried before, try to say what you see and feel and love and lose,” says Rilke.

Among the sayings, favorites jostle for first place depending what I am going through, where I capital A-M AM.  A few sayings in particular, for where I capital A-M AM right now, not only speak primal truth to me but are like boiler rooms deep within my body that keep me going. One of them is Percy Shelley’s pronouncement, in his “A Defense of Poetry” essay—which is the kind of theory I like to read, for it’s theory written when theory was still related to practice and wasn’t doing its damnedest to become an island unto itself—that “poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” Another is something George Steiner said, which I first heard paraphrased by Jorie Graham, and have myself paraphrased to classes of budding writers after classes of budding writers, and so feel obliged to continue the tradition of the paraphrase, and tell you that Steiner said something about how what poets do is like what the gods do—making something out of nothing, and there is a high one gets doing that, being a god on that scale, and it becomes addictive for the poet, as we expect it would be for a god.

That’s subversive stuff, especially for somebody who grew up thinking poetry that wasn’t either of the bad and jokey Roses are red, violets are blue sort, or dirty limericks, was for what we called sissies. That reaction, it’s easy for me to see now, was a gut-level tribal response to the unknown. The tribe I was born into was a tribe of small-town people who worked and played hard, but, for the most part, didn’t seek solace from the arts. They got what they needed to get as far as figuring out the meaning of life from, formally, religion, and informally from gathering together at sporting events, picnics, street dances, parking lots, county fairs, parties, where they talked things through, sometimes with manners, sometimes respectfully, sometime not. It wasn’t, as I’ve said, until that epiphany at a college on a hill run by Franciscan nuns who donated their salaries back to the college—who were much like the poet I am advocating we all become—that I began to see poetry (and other arts) as being able to give me far more than any of the things I got from my birth tribe’s sources of formal meaning. But they were still my tribe, and I still believed in their sources of informal meaning-making, and so I spent a good part of my life as a poet trying to reconcile the me who came from the one tribe, and the me who had learned things about how amazing poetry could be—a me who had been guided by teachers to become part of a new tribe, and I really really wanted to bring my new discovery back to my home tribe, to my people, so that they could turn their chairs around and see the things themselves, not just shadows.

With my sense of mission, I tried to write poems for the people I grew up with, and grew up around. That sense of allegiance to what I understood as audience—an audience I loved and wanted to please—shackled and caged me as a poet when I was still just a budding poet. What I did I did with the best of intentions, but what I didn’t know then is intentions can not only weigh you down, but they have, says me speaking as me, no place in the kind of poetry we need to change ourselves and the world with.

One day I decided I was’t going to do that anymore. Who knows why we make decisions like that, or how they come about. I could dress it up and say I decided to go into the poetic light that guided me through even my darkest nights, and in doing so I would voluntarily leave behind the part of my birth tribe that for no reasons aside from habit, fear, and familial loyalty chose to remain, at least on Sundays, in a cave, but that’s overwriting. I just made the decision one day, one morning, while I was reading and writing, that I would be my primary audience from then on. A practical result of that decision is that what I thought in theory became what I did in practice. In theory I believed that the best way to write is to think in terms of a dividing line between the spoken and the not-able-to-be-spoken, and of poems as being the thing that occupies the boundary—as the last sayable thing before we enter the realm of that which can only be felt, but not articulated6. That means it takes every single word in a poem to say what it says, and if you try to reduce a poem to “what it means is this,” then you are the one backing away from the boundary, into the realm of the already spoken. In theory I believe that these boundaries are peculiar to individuals, and that each new poem we read, that we struggle with but eventually come to terms with, changes our boundaries, which push out from us in all directions, like a big bubble, and if we are reading and writing and pushing the limits, then the bubble is getting larger and larger, and is ungainly, and bizarrely shaped.

In theory I believed that every poem should be an experiment in the sense that you should be following hunches and taking risks and shouldn’t be sure what is going to happen or how long it’s going to take whatever is going to happen to happen. I think that every poet, in this sense, should be experimental. If you already know how to write a certain kind of poem, know how to say a certain kind of thing, and you keep doing that, then you are parroting yourself, and are writing formulaic poems. Instead, I think every poem a poet writes should be doing such new things that to write it is as scary as it is exhilarating, as if nobody has even been where you’re going before, because they haven’t.

In theory I believe that poets whose work does the aforementioned are challenging the world order. It simply can’t be helped. If you are trying to say what’s never been said, in such a way that it takes 14 or 40 or 400 lines to say it, with not a wasted word, and after saying it you need to go again into the unknown with no previous experience to help you, if, as Charles Baxter says, “The more I write, the more I think that everything you’ve done up to the point that you’re writing isn’t much help. You always start out in the dark”—if that is true, then you as poet are an explorer offering news of new worlds where the old ways and the old tediums and all the things that disparage us about the status quo no longer apply, in ways that amaze us, as if suddenly we were the ones in control of our relationship with gravity, and at will could fly, could glide or jump from tree top to tree top, like a crazy dream come true. This, of course, doesn’t mean that your poems will change the world, but that within them, as if the words were an un-triggered nuclear reaction, rests the potential to do so.
"Number Thirty," by Sheri L. Wright

When the publication of my first book transitioned me from essentially a private poet to essentially a public poet, that is, from one whose private and public identity is less as a reader of poetry and more as a writer of poetry, I was presented with the opportunity to live out that long-abandoned and naive desire to bring my new discovery back to my birth tribe. I was asked to give a reading back home, because my parents were proud, although I am sure a poetry reading of the kind of poetry I write had never been given there before. But my parents were proud, and they were alive, and not everybody gets the opportunity to have their parents be proud of their book coming out.

Also in the crowd in the new coffee shop on the mostly abandoned main street, where even the town’s one stoplight had been removed since the state had re-routed I-60 around town instead of through it, were old friends who still lived there, and some former teachers, and aunts and uncles who had come back home for the big (he says, clearing his throat) event.

In preparation, I identified the poems that had elements in them—references to particular places, weather, landscape, and local culture—that I thought would be immediately familiar, knowing the audience as I thought I knew them, which, being of them, I thought was pretty well. I would announce that the best way to enjoy poetry at a reading is to focus on what sounds cool and moves you, and not worry about what you’re unsure of. You can always explore that later on the page. I decided that I would tell the birth tribe that most poems have both narrative and lyrical elements to them, and most have more of one than the other. I wrote notes to help me introduce my poems, in which I explained which parts of each poem were narrative, and which parts were lyrical, and what, generally, the ratio was. Then I got a little liquored up, and read my poems according to plan. I was doing everything I could to acclimate the audience, which was not accustomed to hearing the poems they would be hearing, without reducing the poems by explaining in fewer words than are on the page “what the poem means.”

Such reduction, full disclosure, was a vital and necessary part of the path I took to understanding and embracing poetry as a student at the college on the hill, and I think, and tell my own students, that reducing a poem to something less that what the poem is will help them, and is necessary, paradoxically, to overcoming the urge to do so. Reduce in literature classes, I say, but try hard not to do it in writing classes, where you should talk about the elements of craft in poems—which is like taking a radio apart to see how it’s put together—making a pact to stop each other from talking about what a poem “means.” To my students, who in many senses are like members of my home tribe, as if they had said, “Show me how to see the things instead of just the shadows of things,” I make a point to say what someone once told me, and it stuck, like great analogies tend to do. I tell them that the various kinds and styles of poetry they will encounter are like the various kinds and styles of music they will come across as they seek (as we used to say spin) from left to right on the radio dial. There are stations they will save and return to often, because they love the music there. There are stations they will never listen to because they think they know the kind of music they will hear there and will hate it. If they are on the road, far from the offering of stations they know so well, they will go from station to station to station until they come across something familiar, until they reach their destination. And my history with punk rock would be wasted if I didn’t also make sure to ask them, too, to raise their hands if any of them listen to music that they don’t regularly or don’t ever hear on any radio station at all.

One semester both a Dean Young book and a Jane Hirshfield book were among the required course texts on my syllabus. I thought that Young’s poems would be like music my students had never heard before, and that because of that they would shun it collectively, and I would have to guide them through it until the got the hang of it, which would kill their fear of it, and, if I were lucky, would instill in some of them an attraction to it. I thought the Hirshfield poems would sound to them like music they might know the words of or recollect having heard before, and would fit upon the spectrum of “accessible pop, something you can dance to,” and that they would be willing to dive into and embrace it because of its familiarity. What really happened doesn’t speak well for what fifteen plus years of teaching experience says about my powers of prediction. The students didn’t find either Young or Hirshfield accessible or poppy. I had to perform fully guided, walking-through-the-words tours of each. After I did so, they caught on to the Young poems pretty quickly, and embraced their own explorations of the rest of his book. Aside from one or two students (one of whom I’m pretty sure was pandering) they never took to the Hirshfield poems at all. Through the whole of her book it was like I was translating really difficult contemporary theory-for-the-sake-of-theory into plain language.

Differences, expected and not. They exist not only between my birth tribe and the new tribes I’ve joined, not only between my students and my own expectations of how poems should or will be received, encountered, and dealt with, but there are differences, too, between what I think about the role and value of poetry and what those who I consider my contemporaries think.

There’s been a lot of chatter on social media—well written, intelligent stuff—from people I respect who make the case that poets ought to demand compensation for their art, else, the thinking goes, they are devaluing their art, are devaluing themselves as artists, are devaluing the very thing through which they find their meaning in life. As well argued as their perspectives are, I see things differently. I think it’s as—or, I would argue, more—legitimate to say that what you do as an artist is something you don’t want to have be a commodity in a capitalistic system. I think the only reason we think everything has to have a value is because of the system that we were born in. I think there are other ways of thinking, and I can’t stop thinking them.

The late Bill Knott is a poet a goodly number of my friends call their former teacher. From what they say, he was as cantankerous and he was generous. From what they don’t say behind everything they do say, he was beloved. Bill Knott, his former students tell me, detested the publishing game. He liked to give his work away for free, and the internet allowed him to do a lot of that, publishing his life’s work electronically so that you, right now, can go download it for free. 

Like Bill Knott’s, there are hundreds or thousands of revolutions simmering around us right now. There always are—people either as individuals or in communities who think that the status quo needs fixing, and who have ideas for a better world. We see, online, in our news sources, all sorts of maps and infographics showing us information like “places in the US where no one lives,” or “places in the US with the highest infant mortality,” or “places with the greatest educational disparity based on race,” or “poorest and richest counties in the US,” et cetera, etc. What I would like to see is a map or infographic that shows where individuals are incubating revolutionary ideas, and where there are mostly under-the-radar communities who connect because of these revolutionary ideas, communities that refine them, advance them, and by being communal keep both the communities and the ideas alive together. I would like, then, to overlay that map over the map of poets doing what they do, calling it art or not, because I think it would be interesting to see if they overlap and where.

Some revolutionary impulses wake up and find themselves at tipping points where enough individuals have connected in enough communities and the context—the  political, environmental, economic, et cetera, etc. situation—has altered enough to make revolutions happen. Poets, as they push to expand their own boundaries between what is sayable only as a poem and what has yet to be said, poems of every sort available on frequencies up and down the dial, are standing on a mountain of everything that they’ve read that’s been said before them, and if they are diligent readers—which is redundant with “diligent poet”—that mountain is getting larger by the day, and they are able to see more, see further, get a better perspective on the big picture. They are also in rarified air so thin it can be hard to breathe, and hard to explain the view to one who hasn’t seen it. That’s what makes poems written from that revolutionary vantage point difficult, but also what makes struggling with them, attempting to understand the perspective that comes through language used in new ways because of new visions and perspectives, so worthwhile an endeavor. A difficult poem written from a mountain I’ve never been on is to me a challenge to dive into as an explorer, with what he or she hopes are sufficient supplies, heads into new frontiers. I may not understand all that I see at first, but if I look around and take notes and get used to things, over time things will become clearer, and I will feel more familiar in and with what was previously foreign. Just by paying close attention and documenting my explorations, I will have increased my own mountain, and will be able to see from a new perspective.

It blows me away whenever I read about a new species of animal, plant, bug, or bacteria, or whatever, being discovered. How utterly amazing that we have populated this planet for as long as we have and still we haven’t seen everything. For each of us, there are poems out there like those species, which have been around forever but we just haven’t come across them yet, and when we do they may seem as strange as the creatures we are just beginning to learn about, and may never learn very much about, at the bottoms of the seas. “We’re not making bird cages, we’re making birds,” is what I once heard Dean Young say, and we when are doing as Dean Young suggests and as poets are making new birds, are, as Steiner suggests, poet-gods making things that have never been in existence before, then that means there are a lot of other new things in the environment, more and more every day, waiting to be discovered, and that below them are layers and layers, that there’s buried treasure everywhere, oh what wealth awaits us.

Then, too, what responsibilities are ours. The only thing that will keep us from dying in an oligarchy where radicalism has in large part been tamed out of us is the surprise tipping point and subsequent cultural shift that has long been one of the most admirable aspects of the American experiment. Doing what we do every day, reading journals on the train, writing in cafes, revising in sunrooms, editing in backyards, reviewing while we’re supposed to be paying attention at work, keeps the revolutionary promise of a better tomorrow simmering. As little gods pushing little boundaries, we are in no small way, whether we realize it or not, welcoming both the “unacknowledged” and “Legislator” part of Percy Shelley’s 193-year-old decree. Poets aren’t the ones who are going to run the world, be it a new revolutionary one or a stagnant, unfair one where the revolutions ferment and wait. But what we are—what we are—are the ones who keep hope for a better world alive, and we do it in every poem we struggle to understand, in every fearful attempt to make something new, to hold that newness in our closed hands, to open our hands, to blow on it to simulate wind, to remind what’s in our hands, with our exhalation, of what it instinctively can do, in the air, and to watch as it flies away.


1 Unless maybe I figured out a way to work-in a “motherfucker” or two
2 Since the Google seal is broken, with you already looking at the Whitman tats, you should go ahead and Google-search Horowitz, too, of you’re not familiar with him; he’s such a textbook example you’re likely never to forget him after browsing his Wikipedia entry, and would draw in his face in the dictionary were we ever to coin a word that stands in for what he’s such a perfect example of
3 Because (a) I don’t know what they teach in grade and high schools anymore, and (b) considering the power Texas has in determining the content of grade- and high-school textbooks, and how much Red Texas wants it all to be forgotten, and (c) because of this story I’m about tell you, you should go ahead and Google-search Ricard Nixon and also Watergate. Here’s the story: Once when I had a job as a book packagera for a New York-based publisher of children’s school-library books, I and my coworkers were with our New York editor in Washington, D.C., in a taxi cab, going from somewhere to somewhere else, during an American Library Association conference (I can’t recall if it was the annual conference or the midwinter oneb). I and my coworkers have always been talkative with our cabbies, so we were chatting away, when the cabbie said, “That’s the Watergate.” Our New York editor, who by all accounts had been promoted too early, which is a long story I won’t tell here, but will over beers at, say, an AWP annual conference, asked, “What’s the Watergate.” She honestly didn’t know. We explained it, but everything we were saying was news to her. Our cabbie wanted to know who the dumb one was. Which he asked that bluntly. And you never ever want to receive the dismissive look our New York editor received from him.
            a A book packager is a company that makes books for publishers for a set, agreed-upon fee,     delivering them electronically so that the publisher can print, market, and sell them. Sometimes   a packager makes titles and series it has pitched to the publisher. Sometimes the publisher tells   the packager exactly what it wants. At best, the packager gets a small mention on the CIP page of          the books it’s made.
            b ALA, same as AWP, tends to hold its conferences at places where it’s consider offseason, where          the rates are cheaper—the northern climes in winter, the desert in summer.
4 If you haven’t seen All the President’s Men, go watch it right now, or at the very latest before you go to bed tonight
5 And had it not been for a couple of windfall self-employment years (following a ton of self-employment years with no salary at all, making the two windfall years a sort of optical illusion), after the which the government seized my windfall tax returns, the loans wouldn’t have been paid off as quickly as they were.
6 I know that this idea, too, came in part from Graham, although I think it’s Graham paraphrasing Steiner again, and I have used it and adapted it so often over the years (always giving credit like this) that I can’t remember how much of it belongs to Steiner, how much to Graham, and how much to me. 

About the artist:  Pushcart Prize and Kentucky Poet Laureate nominee, Sheri L. Wright is the author of six books of poetry, including The Feast of Erasure. Her visual work has appeared in numerous journals, including Prick of the Spindle and Subliminal Interiors. Ms. Wright was a contributer to the the Sister Cities Project Lvlds: Creatively Linking Leeds and Louisville. Her photography has been shown across the Ohio Valley region and abroad.