"growing up to become a Pope is a lot of fun"
April 18, 2005 2:32 PM   Subscribe

Poetry by James Tate. Here are also: some thoughts by John Ashbery, an audio file of Tate reading a poem [real], an interview and finally, a dissenting view of James Tate by Dan Schneider (not the guy who was on Head of the Class). But all that is merely an excuse to link to today's most appropriate poem, James Tate's How the Pope is Chosen. Here's a brief excerpt:

After a poodle dies
all the cardinals flock to the nearest 7-Eleven.
They drink Slurpies until one of them throws up
and then he's the new Pope.

posted by Kattullus (19 comments total)
That's awesome.
posted by 40 Watt at 2:50 PM on April 18, 2005

At first I wasn't too taken by these but then I fell on this:

The wrong way home

All night a door floated down the river.
It tried to remember little incidents of pleasure
from its former life, like the time the lovers
leaned against it kissing for hours
and whispering those famous words.
Later, there were harsh words and a shoe
was thrown and the door was slammed.
Comings and goings by the thousands,
the early mornings and late nights, years, years.
O they've got big plans, they'll make a bundle.
The door was an island that swayed in its sleep.
The moon turned the doorknob just slightly,
burned its fingers and ran,
and still the door said nothing and slept.
At least that's what they like to say,
the little fishes and so on.
Far away, a bell rang, and then a shot was fired.
posted by elwoodwiles at 3:00 PM on April 18, 2005 [1 favorite]

("a poodle"?)
posted by ChrisTN at 3:36 PM on April 18, 2005

This is kind of charming:
What do you like about lemurs?

They're just fabulous. They're the most wonderful primates imaginable. They're only in Madagascar and they're endangered like most things, you know. Natives kill them because of their superstitions. The lemurs have these long fingers and if they point them at you, the natives think it means you're going to die. But lemurs are very, very gentle creatures. They constantly hug each other. I don't want to make a big deal out of this. I'm a normal person who happens to like animals a lot. I don't want to get too self-conscious about how they get in my poems because that'll, you know, stop me. I'm just a normal person in all other regards except for my particular love for lemurs. [laughter]
posted by underer at 3:45 PM on April 18, 2005

I like it.
posted by VanRoosta at 4:53 PM on April 18, 2005

His poems are ridiculous and beautiful...

It's almost as if he writes to tease high school English teachers.
posted by almostbarefoot at 5:07 PM on April 18, 2005

James Tate's been a favourite of mine since the night I was bored from studying in the University library and stumbled upon a copy of Viper Jazz. I spent the whole night reading all his poems I could get my hands on.

Never Again The Same is one of my favourites.
posted by rocket88 at 5:14 PM on April 18, 2005

Thanks for the link Kattullus. I'm glad to know about this guy. I just finished reading all the poems on the site, and I'm off to find more (as long as I don't have to leave my house, of course).
posted by Kloryne at 6:00 PM on April 18, 2005

Great stuff, thanks.
posted by ori at 6:01 PM on April 18, 2005

Somewhere, in a spaceship far, far away, Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz weeps quietly.
posted by kcds at 6:22 PM on April 18, 2005

Arrgh, ye be pirates, aren't ye? Those that quote the complete work. Right?
posted by bendybendy at 6:35 PM on April 18, 2005

I LOVE Tate, and this one could be my favorite:

Teaching the Ape to Write Poems

They didn't have much trouble
teaching the ape to write poems:
first they strapped him into the chair,
then tied the pencil around his hand
(the paper had already been nailed down).
Then Dr. Bluespire leaned over his shoulder
and whispered into his ear:
"You look like a god sitting there.
Why don't you try writing something?"
posted by lilboo at 8:21 PM on April 18, 2005

No, no, a thousand times no. For God's sake read Charles Simic instead.
posted by Toecutter at 10:07 PM on April 18, 2005

hmmm ... i think mr tate is one of those acquired tastes that takes time to appreciate, although i hear things i like

mr schnieder's opinions are more provacative than his poetry, i'm afraid ... (scroll way down to the bottom, look to the right for links)
posted by pyramid termite at 10:21 PM on April 18, 2005

This is off topic.... but if I were pope, I would be pope awesome the 1st.
posted by Suparnova at 10:34 PM on April 18, 2005

Schneider doesn't seem to know about Rene Char.
posted by TimothyMason at 11:40 PM on April 18, 2005

Of the ones in the first link, "Good Time Jesus" is a personal favorite. I have "Teaching the Ape to Write Poems" displayed prominently by my computer at work, lilboo, because it makes editing science papers much, much easier.

Thanks for the post Kattullus.
posted by sleepy pete at 1:00 AM on April 19, 2005

I second that, Toecutter. I was initially kind of enthralled by Tate, he was so refreshing when compared to the gray tedium of so many around him, but then I realized that his work was just another form of tedium, so mannered, so predictably clever. Me, I prefer Albert Goldbarth and yes, I know he is also kinda mannered and yes he can go on a bit - but what a voice.
posted by theinsectsarewaiting at 5:34 AM on April 19, 2005

Goldbarth fan, right here. Both Tate and Goldbarth fans may also like Dean Young--occasionally mannered but has a sneaky sense of fun.

On the Pope track, I've had these lyrics stuck in my head for several weeks:

Well, you got your pope pennants, buttons, your pope clothes,
You got your pope binoculars to see him up close
and I cried when I saw that man in white.
I cried, much to my surrounders' delight.
I cried, 'cause I couldn’t breathe anymore; I cried
'cause people were stepping on my feet.
Hey, hey Mr. Holiness way over there,
Maybe we love you, but we're sadly lacking air.

(remainder here)
posted by dlugoczaj at 8:23 AM on April 19, 2005

« Older Kinematic Models   |   The Ultimate "Sith" Spolier! Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments