Friday, August 19, 2016

For your enjoyment: Campbell McGrath's "Capitalist Poem #5"

For your enjoyment: Campbell McGrath's "Capitalist Poem #5" in its original line configuration.

I noticed while trying to link to Campbell McGrath's "Capitalist Poem #5" that the most popular, and potentially the only text version of this poem has the stanzas messed up. It is from McGrath's first collection Capitalism, and in an interview with Smartish Pace (if you aren't a frequent reader of SP you should start now) he said:
"In graduate school I began to write a series of "Capitalist Poems," beginning with "Capitalist Poem #5." Those poems for me mark the beginning of my "authentic" voice as a poet. They were still young poems, but in them I began to identify the subject matter from which my poetry would spring-American culture and commerce and discourse and dissonance, the search for place and community in our contemporary world. In some senses my writing has evolved far beyond those early poems, but in another sense I am still writing them. The 7-11 was the iconic heart of those poems, and I'm sorry that my life today does not include a 7-11-they don't have too many down here in Miami." 
Instead of typing the poem up again, I decided to just take a picture of the poem in the book, which isn't exactly the easiest book to get ahold of. I know I bought my copy used for $30 almost a decade ago, now the cheapest copy used on Amazon is $34, so you know, inflation. "Capitalist Poem #5 is fairly commonly anthologized I believe, I know it is in Ryan C Van Cleave's very good anthology "Contemporary American Poetry: Behind the Scenes" but in that incarnation there are no stanza breaks at all, and I much prefer the broken version that appears in Capitalism. Enjoy



Possible writing exercise: Take a month of your life in which you followed a steady routine whether from work or hobby or school or whatever driving force put you on a very repetitive schedule and think of things that you did over and over again. Write those down as a list poem. If you can tie it up with an overarching statement that indicates something you did not know while you were doing those things which you would have wanted to know (or know at least of, so that you might remedy your ignorance).




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