A Q&A with me about The Blinds, Jim Thompson, Alan Moore, wretched hives of scum and villainy, darkness, email distractions, and writing tips for parents of small children, conducted by the indefatigable novelist and gentleman Alex Segura.Read More
Stephen Dunn is a very well-known poet, given he's won the Pulitzer Prize and all. Nevertheless, being moderately contemporary poetry illiterate, I only recently started reading him. To be truthful, I've been low-level obsessing over him for a little while, ever since reading a poem of his called "Tucson," in the Penguin Anthology of Twentieth Century American Poetry, which I dip into now and again when I'm craving a poetry fix.
I finally tracked down and bought two of Dunn's books today, one a career-spanning collection titled "What Goes On," and one a more recent volume, "Here And Now." I bought the latter solely on the strength of flipping it open randomly to this poem, "If A Clown," which I immediately loved.
Later, I Googled the poem and it turns out it ran in The New Yorker in 2009, which, as my wife said, is a little like discovering some awesome new band, then finding out they played on SNL four years ago. But even so! Maybe everyone's already read this poem and fallen as hard in love with it as I have. But if you haven't, here are the opening lines:
If a clown came out of the woods,
a standard-looking clown with oversized
polka-dot clothes, floppy shoes,
a red, bulbous nose, and you saw him
on the edge of your property,
there’d be nothing funny about that,
would there? A bear might be preferable,
especially if black and berry-driven.
And it goes from there and is like a crazed beautiful hybrid of Robert Frost and Jack Handey and is absolutely fantastic. Suffice to say, my obsessing has been officially upgraded from low-level to high-level. Read the whole poem here. Read Tucson here. Go buy all of Stephen Dunn's books. Also, I was going to try and illustrate this post with a photo of a clown but I seriously couldn't find a single one that wouldn't give you, and me, nightmares.
A very kind mention of NEAR ENEMY in Entertainment Weekly's 'Cheat Sheet."
Please forgive the weird Xeroxed quality of the photo — I was faxed this from 1991. I assure you the original clip is in glorious Technicolor. So after you watch PARKS AND RECREATION and listen to Panda Bear, enjoy NEAR ENEMY! A well-rounded cultural diet.
ENTROPY magazine posted its Favorite Lines of 2014, and there was SHOVEL READY, right at the top. (Of the list. I don't think it's meant to be the #1 line of the year but if so WHO AM I TO ARGUE?)
Thank you, Entropy!
“'But why is the pile of poo smiling?' would be the next logical question. Before we answer that, you may want to buckle yourself in, because we’re about to toboggan down the Smiling Pile of Poo Emoji Wormhole."
My cover story, "Smile, You're Speaking Emoji: The Rapid Evolution of a Wordless Tongue," for New York magazine.