Carmine Starnino’s “Lazy Bastardism”

We’ve been working on the Collected Poets Series website, revamping it, expanding it, and this week we added some footage of Nancy Pearson’s reading two weeks ago. Our ultimate intention is to create a video archive of the CPS events so that everyone, regardless of geography, can enjoy them. This is our modest first step. Modest in length, and Nancy’s quiet delivery — in content, not at all! So please, check it out, and tell us what you think!


The poet Carmine Starnino contributed a trenchant & tremendously fun prose piece, “Lazy Bastardism: A Notebook,” to this month’s issue of Poetry. I really enjoyed reading this — it’s so full of tasty bits I couldn’t help interrupting my husband’s reading to quote several passages to him. And at several passages, I was restraining myself.

Different sections talk about poetry and prayer (“In fact, regarded a  certain way, poetry might even be said to be a menace to religious belief.”), age & youth re: poetry critics (“Can critical faculties show signs of wear and tear?”), the poetry-drafting process (“It’s so easy to lose heart.”), and that’s just the first 3 pages, with 7 more to go. It’s a true gambol through one poet’s head, and perhaps I loved it so much because I share his varied concerns and conclusions. This, in particular:

If grown-ups don’t read poetry, it’s not because they have a bone to pick with poets. The truth is even more intolerable: they prefer not to. How often do we need to be Bartlebyed before we finally admit to ourselves that those Clancy-thumbing dentists and Grisham-toting lawyers aren’t confused or afraid of commitment? They’re just not that into us.

I’m deeply interested now in reading more of Starnino’s work, prose and especially poems. He’s Canadian, so I’m unsure of how available he is in the States, and besides which I’m still in a book-buying freeze. Thank the poetry gods for the internet!

Andrea Cohen has two poems in this issue, also, and they fairly fizz with word play — they also required the full read-’em-outloud-to-the-husband treatment. Poetry‘s January podcast features her reading one of them, and, among other things, a conversation with…Carmine Starnino! Yes, I like him very much.

What does he mean by “lazy bastardism”? I’m afraid you’ll have to read his notebook to find out, because I couldn’t even begin to do it justice.

Andrea Cohen & Memorious

I’m now 4 poems behind — haven’t managed to write another poem since finishing the Pleiades poems — but I’m trying not to get too worked up about it. I’ve really enjoyed being so poetry-centric, and I’m happy with what I have written, but I have to say, between a full-time job, Vincent, poetry readings, & NaPoWriMo, my husband has been seriously neglected. So the next thing I need to accomplish this month is not only re-finding my writing practice, but also how to maintain it without exhausting myself and alienating Lance.

One of the aspects of NaPoWriMo that’s been really fun is reading all the drafts posted at various participating poets’ blogs, and reading about their various practices. Some poets, like Diane Lockward, seem to have a process like mine, long & tedious. Others, like Reb Livingston, just let it rip, which I find utterly terrifying. I’m not afraid of the Very Bad Draft, but I certainly don’t want to expose them for general reading. I posted my Pleiades, but they were very very far from first drafts — which is why I’m exhausted.

I’m going to try to keep it up, taking as my example all these amazing poets, who lead lives just as busy.


I’ve been reading Andrea Cohen’s The Cartographer’s Vacation (Owl Creek Press, 1999), and, liking it immensely, I of course Googled her, which then led me to the online journal Memorious, which published some of her poems in a couple issues. This is an unknown journal to me, and considering the caliber of the poetry they publish, I’m so surprised I’ve never heard of them — their newest issue includes Steven Cramer and Bob Hicok, for crying out loud! Check them out, you’ll be glad you did. At the very least, read Andrea Cohen’s poems.


For crying out loud.

One of Lance’s exclamations, the phrase that’s not full of curse words that he utters in moments of panic/anger/bewilderment, the phrase that amuses me to no end, is, “Oh my Jesus!”

It’s funny to me because we were both raised Catholic, and even though we no longer attend church or do anything related to religion, everyone knows being Catholic never really leaves you in many regards, including this one — it just seems so outrageous that he’d reference Jesus in tense situations.

And I keep picturing Vincent picking up on it. I don’t know what would be worse: being in the grocery store & Vincent suddenly crying, “For f***’s sake!” (mine) or “Oh my Jesus!”