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!

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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.

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2 thoughts on “Carmine Starnino’s “Lazy Bastardism”

  1. This is a comment that I tried to post on the Poetry Magazine website, but either the moderators are censoring it or are delaying in posting it. No doubt you will strongly disagree with and perhaps even scoff at my lines, but you have asked for thoughts on the article. And although I’ve searched, there doesn’t seem to be any way to respond to the author other than this round about way. May it reach its destination.

    That’s your own fault.
    We go back intah that,
    The self-made inspiration’s lair.
    Can you hear your soul speak,
    Or the world call your name,
    Or idea’s thunder’s wings,
    Or some devil’s branded sneer,
    Or the celestial beauty touch?
    Impoverished, lost
    Is your resound.
    A listening lone and high,
    And there’s poetry.
    The public wrote it down.
    If I do homework.

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