04 December 2012

Sweet Spot, by J. T. Barbarese

I read a poem by J. T. Barbarese in the New Yorker. There was something about it that I liked, but I really didn't "understand" it. I used Google to look up some of the names and odd words in it, and gained a little bit of insight, but what I found in the process of doing this was that the poem itself was posted in at least two places. While it was at least attributed to its author, I sincerely doubt that either of the bloggers that posted this entire piece of work had obtained permission to do so. They didn't state that they had.

Being a general busybody, and curious, I looked up Mr. Barbarese, and found that he is a professor at Rutgers. On his web page he gave an email address, and I wrote to him, tattling on the copyright scofflaws. To my surprise, he answered me. He thanked me for complimenting his poem, and told me that he had a new book out, called "Sweet Spot," which I might enjoy.

I don't get a lot of emails from real live published poets who get their stuff printed by the New Yorker. The Internet yielded a copy of his collection very quickly, and I have enjoyed it immensely for the last few months. This is one feature of a good book of poems: it takes a long, long time to read. It takes me a long, long time, anyway. I got this book in the spring, and took it along on a couple of vacation trips over the summer. It sits near my chair at home now, and I am still dipping into it every now and then.

A couple of excerpts:

From "Earth Science:" 
"I smell me
coming up behind me
some days--
sweet sarcophagal


From "Rudolph on the Roof:" 
"...the ring finger will be sprung from the knuckle,
the spine unplugged from the cortex
followed by the sunless harvest of the molars,
the sockets mortised out, the busted saddle
of the ribs in the muddy rot at rest like the hull
of a sunken man-o'-war..."

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