About Me

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Born and raised on O'ahu, I now live in Maxvorstadt. As the resident poet at EcoHealth, my verse finds inspiration these days in the specter of future pandemics. For my dissertation at Amerika-Institut (LMU), I'm anatomizing the prosody of E. A. Robinson's sonnets. I also tutor writing, teach English, and lead a book club.

20171017

To an American Poet Just Dead

by Richard Wilbur

In the Boston Sunday Herald just three lines
Of no-point type for you who used to sing
The praises of imaginary wines,
And died, or so I'm told, of the real thing.

Also gone, but a lot less forgotten
Are an eminent cut-rate druggist, a lover of Giving,
A lender, and various brokers:  gone from this rotten
Taxable world to a higher standard of living.

It is out in the comfy suburbs I read you are dead,
And the soupy summer is settling, full of the yawns
Of Sunday fathers loitering late in bed,
And the sshhh of sprays on all the little lawns.

Will the sprays weep wide for you their chaplet tears?
For you will the deep-freeze units melt and mourn?
For you will Studebakers shred their gears
And sound from each garage a muted horn?

They won't.  In summer sunk and stupefied
The suburbs deepen in their sleep of death.
And though they sleep the sounder since you died
It's just as well that now you save your breath.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

Born to Run


Thirty-three years ago, I misheard the line and fell in love with the song; curiously, the homophone still stirs me: "Girl, I'm just a scared and lonely writer*--but I've got to know how it feels--I want to know if love is wild; I want to know if love is real." *Corrigendum: "rider".  #ohrwurm



20171016

A Riddle

by Richard Wilbur

For M. M.

Where far in forest I am laid,
In a place ringed around by stones,
Look for no melancholy shade,
And have no thoughts of buried bones;
For I am bodiless and bright,
And fill this glade with sudden glow;
The leaves are washed in under-light;
Shade lies upon the boughs like snow.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20171003

Four Literary Events This Week at Amerikahaus

Dear bibliophiles in Munich,

This week, Amerikahaus München will host four literary events--two wonderful readings, a book swap, and a discussion of poetry (all of which are free and open to the public).

Tomorrow (Wednesday, October 4th, from 6:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. in the upstairs boardroom), the Amerikahaus Literary Circle will reconvene after its summer break to discuss Paterson by William Carlos Williams, which will include clips from the recent film by Jim Jarmusch and information about the upcoming selection of titles for the AHLC's next reading list.  (Snickerdoodles will be served to whet our appetite for the poetry.)

Also tomorrow (Wednesday, October 4th, from 7:30 P.M. to 9:00 P.M. in the ground-floor lecture hall), folklorist and author Lisa Yarger (co-owner, with John Browner, of The Munich Readery)--whose new, award-winning book, Lovie, was published last year by University of North Carolina Press--will use clips from the BBC's Call the Midwife series to contrast British practices of midwifery in the 1950s with those Yarger witnessed first-hand from Lovie Shelton, a British-trained midwife who worked in rural North Carolina for decades.  (I just finished reading the book and loved it--finding the honest portrayal of the singular personality of her story's subject to reckon powerfully with perennial, southern issues of race, gender, poverty, religiosity, and public health in a deeply moving way.)

Thursday (October 5th, from 7:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M. in the ground-floor lecture hall), Amerika-Institut's own Whitman specialist, Dr. Sascha Pöhlmannwill moderate a reading of Das abendteuerliche Leben des Jack Engle, a new German translation by Stefan Schöberlein of the recently discovered novel by Walt Whitman.  (A native of Bochum, Schöberlein is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Iowa, the managing editor of Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, and a research assistant for Walt Whitman Archive; two years ago, I attended a presentation of his on Whitman at LMU and was much struck by both the clarity and profundity of its insights.)

Sunday (October 8th, from 10:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. in the ground-floor garage), the second Amerikahaus English-language book swap will take place.  Last time around, the divers breadth of titles was extraordinary; this one, with word-of-mouth, should be even better: So, bring along your old books to exchange for "new" ones.  Refreshments--coffee and baked goods (including snickerdoodles)--will be available as will volunteers to answer your questions about the Amerikahaus (including its return to Karolinenplatz in 2018), the Bavarian American Academy, the Amerikahaus Verein, and the Amerikahaus Literary Circle.

Appended here is a map to find the present venue (Barer Strasse 19 A, the Karolinenplatz tram stop) of Amerikahaus München along with links for more information about the events.

I look forward to seeing you there.

Cheers,
Mark

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20170928

from Paterson, Book Two, Part III

by William Carlos Williams

                            That the poem,
the most perfect rock and temple, the highest
falls, in clouds of gauzy spray, should be
so rivaled       .       that the poet,
in disgrace, should borrow from erudition (to
unslave the mind): railing at the vocabulary
(borrowing from those he hates, to his own
disfranchisement)       .



—discounting his failures       .
seeks to induce his bones to rise into a scene,
his dry bones, above the scene, (they will not)
illuminating it within itself, out of itself
to form the colors, in the terms of some
back street, so that the history may escape
the panders

.       .       accomplish the inevitable
poor, the invisible, thrashing, breeding
.       debased city

Love is no comforter, rather a nail in the
skull

.       reversed in the mirror of its
own squalor, debased by the divorce from learning,
its garbage on the curbs, its legislators
under the garbage, uninstructed, incapable of
self instruction       .

               a thwarting, an avulsion :

—flowers uprooted, columbine, yellow and red,
strewn upon the path; dogwoods in full flower,
the trees dismembered; its women
shallow, its men steadfastly refusing—at
the best       .
               The language       .       words
without style! whose scholars (there are none)
.       or dangling, about whom
the water weaves its strands encasing them
in a short of thick lacquer, lodged
under its flow       .

                                          Caught (in mind)
beside the water he looks down, listens!
But discovers, still, no syllable in the confused
uproar: missing the sense (though he tries)
untaught but listening, shakes with the intensity
of his listening       .

Only the thought of the stream comforts him,
its terrifying plunge, inviting marriage—and
a wreath of fur       .

20170922

Sonnet

by John Keats

O Solitude! if I must with thee dwell,
  Let it not be among the jumbled heap
  Of murky buildings; climb with me the steep,—
Nature’s observatory—whence the dell,
Its flowery slopes, its river’s crystal swell,        
  May seem a span; let me thy vigils keep
  ’Mongst boughs pavillion’d, where the deer’s swift leap
Startles the wild bee from the fox-glove bell.
But though I’ll gladly trace these scenes with thee,
  Yet the sweet converse of an innocent mind,        
Whose words are images of thoughts refin’d,
  Is my soul’s pleasure; and it sure must be
Almost the highest bliss of human-kind,
  When to thy haunts two kindred spirits flee.