Okay, so there was a two-year gap between the previous Dragonfly post and the one before that. And then from that last post to now, a nine-month gap. Has any project ever hung fire so much?
It's been so long, in fact, there may be readers who have never seen a Dragonfly post. To those friends, let me explain: I'm blogging my first poetry collection page by page, or rather, poem by poem with commentary on craft or the circumstances surrounding the composition of the poem, etc. At the bottom of each post, you'll see a little box at bottom right that will help you navigate to the initial Dragonfly post (from late 2008), the table of contents, and so on.
This next poem in the book is thematically related to the previous poem since both deal with gambling.
This poem may also be connected to my MFA professor David Wojahn's assignment to write a poem in which a family member meets a celebrity. I didn't write this until several years after I was David's student, but there it is. Some of you may know of that famous Wojahn assignment, which has been published here and there.
What else can I say? It's a sestina. Google that word or click on the word "sestina" in the labels below. I wrote a decent blog post on the sestina in March 2009.
Let's see . . . that picture of Elvis above is from a Sun Records promotional photo when he was 19. I tried to find an image of Presley that's not well known. I borrowed it from Wikipedia; click on it for more info. The picture's in the public domain.
There's a small anecdote connected to this poem for me. I was a visiting writer at the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences, at UMass Boston during the '90s, and I performed this poem, among others, at a reading. During the Q&A, a well-known scholar and historian of the Vietnam war called me out for sexism, citing the portrayal of the character of the showgirl as evidence. I felt bad about that for quite a long while, but really, if one were to write from the point of view of a mass murderer, does that make one a mass murderer? The showgirl is, admittedly, a static, undeveloped character who is shown only as silly arm candy for Elvis. But her purpose in the poem, as an image, as a device, is to characterize Elvis's womanizing and to oppose his character to that of Uncle Ray. I'd love to hear some thoughts about this question, if you wouldn't mind posting a comment about it below.
Oh, one other thing, the phrase "cruelly handsome" above was originally "brutally handsome" in the book. I think, though, that I unconsciously lifted that from the Eagles. Hence the alteration.
Okay, that's all for now. Comment below, won't you? About anything, please. Thanks. Ingat.
Added 5/8/2012: Yesterday, I mentioned that the Wojahn assignment had been published. Here's the scoop: "The Night Aunt Dottie Caught Elvis's Handerchief When He Tossed It from the Stage of the Sands in Vegas," a poetry-writing exercise by David Wojahn, from The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises From Poets Who Teach, edited by Robin Behn and Chase Twichell. Lots of great exercises in this book . . . worth picking up.
last night’s mathematical hilarity
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