I know that it is super uncool to like anything unless it is done so ironically, but that I have never been very good at hiding my enthusiasm. Sure, I can convince myself that I don’t want something, but that will only last so long before I break, then run around telling everyone who’ll listen. That’s kind of how it was with me finally buying myself a subscription to Poetry.
Before my interview for the NJGSA, may it rest in peace, I was gripped with my old panic of not being good enough, and convinced my mom to let me drive us to the nearest chain book store so I could learn what was happening in the writing world. On the magazine rack, among dozens of knitting publications, was this matte white background with an all-encompassing title: Poetry. For years after that first purchase, I would treat myself to a copy every few months or so: it was my thing.
When I hit college, I toyed with the idea of a subscription, but couldn’t rationalize the international fee or the number of change of address forms I’d have to fill out. (Plot twist: I despise filling out forms.) But it turned out that I had nothing to worry about. I found that a book store across the street from my university carried Poetry and, more importantly, would give me back issues for free if I bought the current one so long as I didn’t mind losing the cover. Every other month, I got that small paper comfort and renewed love for my fellow humans.
Little Aster A drowned drayman was hoisted on to the slab. Someone had jammed a lavender aster between his teeth. As I made the incision up from the chest with a long knife under the skin to cut out tongue and gums, I must have nudged it because it slipped into the brain lying adjacent. I packed it into the thoracic cavity with the excelsior when he was sewn up. Drink your fill in your vase! Rest easy, little aster!
-Gottfried Benn, trans. Michael Hofman, Poetry March 2011