Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Pop Life

I do not know anything about Tim Lane so I will not write an essay about Tim Lane. Yet there are several things (besides his first name) that make me highly sympathetic to his new book of poetry, Pure Pop, just out from Revelator.

1) Tim Lane really, really likes Frank O'Hara. (Tim, if you haven't picked up a copy of the Collected Poems yet, let Gavin know and I will send you one.)
2) Tim Lane really likes Coca-Cola.
3) Tim Lane's poems, while bouncy and fast and biographical and fun, are also deliciously and lyrically just a little pervy.

I think my favorite line comes early, in "We Have Yet to Ride on a Roller Coaster Together":

I like to watch you stepping into a sandal, the agreeable way the insole and it meet

which is really the best way to build intimacy in poetry, to acquaint the reader with your small strangenesses and make it seem odd and familiar and yours and theirs at once.

I'm also sympathetic when Lane (who is always slightly meta- in his poetic voice) wonders whether he's sad "because [his] poems lack the sophistication of an Ivy League education," not least because he rhymes "Ivy League education" with "English League soccer." It's half a joke, but it's always worth remembering that in poetry,
You just go on your nerve. If someone’s chasing you down the street with a knife you just run, you don’t turn around and shout, "Give it up! I was a track star for Mineola Prep."
Which, coming from a Harvard grad and Navy man, has always been among the most reassuring inspirations.


  1. For the record, whenever I read a poem with the word 'lilac' I now pronounce it 'lil-uck' -- I am totally not kidding -- ever since your tale of lilac mispronunciation I cannot help it.

    Lane has a lil-uck in here.

  2. I love the inherent variation in attempts to spell a particular phonetic pronunciation.

    For example, I would have transcribed the mispronunciation in question as "LIL-ick."

  3. Ha! Yes, I noticed Lane's "lilac," too. [For the uninitiated, I had a poem featured in Robin's old magazine Oats that prominently featured the mispronounced word.]

    Robin's right that the second mispronounced vowel is more of a "u" than "i" sound (or rather, a schwa). Gavin's right that the first mispronounced vowel carries the stress and is an "i" sound. Both are right that I carried the "l" at the end of the first syllable rather than the beginning of the second.

    So "LILL-uck." That's the way the eighteen-year-old Tim C. would say it.


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