Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Aimless Reading: The B's, Part 19 (Joel Bettridge)

That Abrupt Here
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Bettridge, Joel
That Abrupt Here

According to the inscription, this book was given to me by the author, a poetics program classmate, on October 1, 2007, the day after I read at the Spare Room series in Portland with Kathleen Frasier. Those precious few who have been reading this blog since then will recall that when Human Scale came out in 2007. Lori and I drove 9500 miles back and forth across America visiting friends, doing readings, checking out this spectacularly beautiful country. If you go back to the beginning, you can read all about it. You can also see some photos on my Flickr page (some of which include Joel) from our stop in Portland, which we now refer to as Buffalo West b/c so many of my friends from graduate school now live there.

One strong memory of Joel this book conjures up is from my first year in Buffalo (1997). Several of us were out one night at a bar called the Rendezvous when the discussion turned to questions of religious belief.  It wasn't so much a discussion about belief or non-belief, but more about whether or not it was right for a believer to try to impose their beliefs on other people.  I think I took the position that it was not right for them to try to impose their beliefs on others, to which Joel replied: "You are wrong.  If you believe yourself to be correct, then it follows that those whose beliefs differ from your own must be incorrect.  Therefore, you must try to correct them. Trust me, I have read all the philosophers and they all agree with me."

Anyhow, there's a lot of religious and political and sexual thinking going on in these poems, which I find compelling, especially the manner in which the sacred and the profane are at constant odds with one another, like two kids fighting on a playground:

For All Appearance

Impressed into affection
after all
the kind of talk we
come to expect to hear from
elected officials and

for example
To make palatable

my choices of
formal organization
a problem of 
your neck line and what it 
suggests of what I am sure

are any      number of

personal qualities
The dilemma of using

for bedding   As if
I could repent of
my wish for me need of
Indecorous     a one type of
allusion standing

in for another
something like
to cite an instance
Bets placed on

indiscernible parts of speech

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