Real Sofistikashun: Essays on Poetry and Craft

My crush on Hoagland is crashing and burning, no surprise. I waded through these lectures/essays and noticed a faint whiff of the stench that ubiquitous white male arrogance brings to the table, invariably. At least he’s dead and so won’t be horrified by my change of heart. At one point he calls Mary Oliver “the Miss Manners of poetic convention,” which made my misogynistic spidey senses start tingling. Then I started noticing that most of his examples of poems in the essays were by men, a handful of women sprinkled in. Rage simmered once I reached his treatment of Gertrude Stein; no one is able to refrain from poking fun at her awareness of her own genius.

A few things I did take from slogging through this: fragment is the unit, juxtaposition is the method, collage is the result.

And an introduction to the wonderful Matthea Harvey, whose poem is here:


First Person fumed & fizzed under Third Person’s tongue while Third Person slumped at the diner counter, talking, as usual, to no one.Third Person thought First Person was the toilet paper trailing from Third Person’s shoe, the tiara Third Person once wore in a dream to a funeral. First Person thought Third Person was a layer of tar on a gorgeous pink nautilus, a foot on a fountain, a tin hiding the macaroons and First Person was that nautilus, that fountain, that pile of macaroons. Sometimes First Person broke free on first dates (with a Second Person) & then there was the delicious rush of “I this” and “I that” but then no phone call & for weeks Third Person wouldn’t let First Person near anyone. Poor First Person. Currently she was exiled to the world of postcards (having a lovely time)—& even then that beast of a Third Person used the implied “I” just to drive First Person crazy. She felt like a television staring at the remote, begging to be turned on. She had so many things she wanted to say. If only she could survive on her own, she’d make Third Person choke on herself & when the detectives arrived & all eyes were on her, she’d cry out, “I did it! I did it! Yes, dahlings, it was me!