Tuesday, April 01, 2008

I bought a Peter Rabbit bowl to match my Peter Rabbit mug.

Maybe it's time for me to get over my somewhat totally irrational but definite dislike of Gustaf Sobin. But I can't even think about The Fly-Truffler without wanting to rant. Young orphan woman becomes lover, language, earth, and food, all at the same time, and is then consumed by old husband, both literally while she's alive and then figuratively when she's dead (honestly, there's nothing sexier than a hot dead young woman). Barf. I'm interested in obsessive desire, but this book feels so cliched in a sexy, international way that I find it maddening. I know: my reading and rant aren't especially nuanced. Are any of you readers Gustaf Sobin fans? What should I read?

I'm going to attempt to participate in NaPoRiMo. I've already posted some poems, even. Wow.

I just finished reading Elisabeth Workman's Opolis. I liked it. I will review it.

I just finished eating some butternut squash soup to which I added arugula and a tablespoon of peanut butter. It was actually good. It's all part of my non-diet diet. Soups are good for that.

I made a sound poem thing, complete with weird ambient flute stuff in the background. For now I am going to call it "I still have a problem with agriculture."

I've been thinking about things that would make me cool(er). What are they?


Anonymous said...

Hi Lorraine. I think very highly of Sobin's poetry. I published work of his in both River city and Facture when I was editor, and I had a somewhat furtive correspondence with him for a few years. But you're right about The Fly-Truffler. I recall feeling embarrassed for Gustaf while reading it. I'd say Voyaging Portraits (New Directions, 1988) is my favorite book of his poetry. Talisman also published a selected some years back which I haven't seen. If I were to "group" Sobin, I wouldn't group him among the Language Poets but with poets such as Michael Palmer, Nathaniel Mackey, and Susan Howe -- experimental poets who haven't completely kicked the lyric to the curb.

Paul Naylor

K. Lorraine Graham said...

Hi Paul,

Thanks for your helpful comment--this makes me feel less aggravated about the Fly Truffler (at least I know I'm not the only one embarrassed by it) and gives me a way to contextualize his poetry. I'm fantasizing about the summer (I wonder why, since I work more in the summer than the winter, but whatever) and compiling a reading list, now, so I'll Voyaging Portraits on it.

sandrasimonds said...

I've always liked Sobin. I remember first reading his poetry in Portland and really being taken by it. It was a gut reaction---like, wow! this is amazing. So, I'm not surprised that he would elicit the opposite response.

K. Lorraine Graham said...

Hi Sandra,

I actually know next to nothing about Sobin's poetry--what little I know of his work is entirely based on his fiction. Paul Naylor placed his poetry in context with Michael Palmer, Nathaniel Mackey, and Susan Howe, so that makes me think that perhaps I could read his poetry and at least respect it. I've barely read Michael Palmer's work, although I could talk about it; I've read more Nathaniel Mackey; and I've always respected Susan Howe's work--I read it voraciously at a certain point--though I can't admit to enjoying, it.

A violently negative reaction to something is often a sign of intense interest--I've had a violently negative reaction to all things Gustaf Sobin, which makes me think that there's something going on that deserves at least another look.

DUSIE said...

ohohoh,.... when you write a review can we publish it on the dusie review blog????

mark wallace said...

Voyaging Portraits and Earth As Air are my favorites. In his later books I think the intriguing twists of line start to seem, at least on occasion, more like annoying tics.

I would also say that as much as I like those earlier books, I think you can find even then the seeds of what goes wrong in The Fly Truffler in a tendency to valorize the groundedness of early human cultures as opposed to the alienation of what came later. The clear overromanticizing of the earth (and woman as earth) in The Fly Truffler was present in his early work too, just in a more muted and subtle form.

mike said...

I'm not going to tell you what to read, but I took one bit out of a a peter rabbit chocolate bunny that someone left on their desk at work a couple days ago and spit the piece I was eating out and threw the bunny away.

K. Lorraine Graham said...

Mark--thanks for your comments. When I picked up (again) the Fly Truffler last week and tried to read it, I did indeed feel like the twists of sentences that I'm supposed to think as luscious were rather annoying. Since I'm only barely familiar with his later stuff, I'll just have to wait and see how his obsessions with woman as earth function in his earlier work.

K. Lorraine Graham said...

Mike--Glad to hear that you had a great Easter. Late winter in Maine is the best. And everyone knows that most Easter chocolate tastes terrible.

Nada said...

Gustaf Sobin is kind of a running joke around our household. Need I say more?