Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Aimless Reading: The G's, Part 5 (Loren Goodman)

Famous Americans
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Goodman, Loren
Famous Americans

Given to me by the author on November 3, 2005, when he read in the Small Press Poetry Series in Buffalo. Inscribed.

Loren is yet another of my classmates from the poetics program at SUNY Buffalo. He began the same year that I did -- 1997. I think he moved to Japan after two, maybe three years. He was writing about Japanese boxing and so wandered off to go check out the scene in Japan. In the meantime, his first book won the Yale Younger Poets prize.

I don't think I have ever met someone who does deadpan like Loren Goodman. He would give presentations in Charles Bernstein's class that would make the audience squirm because no one knew if he was a) stoned out of his mind b) a complete space cadet c) a brilliant comedian or d) all of the above. No matter how hard the audience laughed, or whether they laughed with him or at him, he always kept a straight face.

(For the record, I think the answer is "C.")

Deadpan is a difficult skill to master, especially when someone is as funny as Loren. At his readings, the audience chuckles at a line, then at another, uncertain at first if he is being funny, then they begin to catch on and before long the whole place is howling with laughter. When this happens, especially if the person performing also finds the content of the poems humorous, it is very difficult to keep from laughing. I remember once or twice spying a slightly dazed smile hinting at the corner of Loren's lips, but I never saw it break out. He just kept on reading and the audience kept on laughing.

from Famous Americans


I am Yeast, a great poet
I live in Ireland
Some say I am the greatest
Poet ever

My poetry makes bread grow
All over Ireland and the world
In glens and valleys, bread rising
In huts, clover paths, and fire wood

There will always be critics
Who deny Yeast
But you can see
The effect of my poetry
Through the potato fields
And the swell of the Liffey.
The amber coins and foaming black ale


rdeming said...

Fact: I have never seen Loren Goodman and the comic Andy Kaufman in the same room together. Or the film crtic Stanley Kauffmann. You decide!

rdeming said...

Loren and I shared an office at Buffalo. We also were in Creeley's seminar, which met at the ungodly hour of 10 AM on a Monday. There were two desks in our office and a small table. We called that the breakfast nook. Every Monday one of us would bring in donuts for the breakfast nook to eat during the break in the seminar. Mine came from Donutman Donuts. When it was my turn, I always brought the donuts. Loren wasn't always so reliable. I think he once brought some saltines.

Once, we wrote on the chalkboard a lexicon of Creeley's phrases--"class," "old-time," "happily," "etc".

Creeley was one of the people on Loren's PhD orals defense committee.

True story:
(phone rings)
RC: Hello?
Loren: Hi, Bob? It's Loren Goodman.
RC: Loren, how are you?
Loren: I'm good Bob, thanks for asking.
RC: Great. What can I do for you?
Loren: I was just calling to see if you'd be able to make it to my orals.
RC: Absolutely, Loren. Of course. When is it?
Loren: Well, right now.
RC: Yikes! I can't make it--I have a doctor's appointment. Why didn't you tell me?
Loren: I'm moving to Japan.

Bob ended up doing his part separately and all worked out fine.

God bless Loren Goodman.
You decide!

Michael Kelleher, Buffalo, NY said...