Last week on the Seattle Poetry Chain, Julie Larios wrote a poem to tell us what Bee did. It was a lovely poem, and she's made a lovely choice for a next poet: Ed Skoog. Here's why she chose him:
Ed Skoog's poetry is so ambitious it takes my breath away. In it, he creates dense narratives, sees patterns, sees dissimilitudes, knows how to fishtail with images and turn with ease, knows how to braid pop culture into small personal melancholies and into large generosities. Just take a look at his new book, Mister Skylight, and you'll know what I mean. He's smart and he's funny - as an artist and as a person - and that's what I call a lovely combination. In addition to producing fascinating work himself, he can talk about other people's poetry and about poetic strategies in ways that make you want to go straight home, pick up a pen and write. In terms of my recommending him to readers out there, add this: he orders his drinks neat, and he plays banjo and loves Bill Monroe - perfect capstones to his art.
Skoog may be the first banjo-playing poet on the chain. He's also a writer-in-residence at the Hugo House. Mister Skylight is to be released from Copper Canyon Press this year. He is the author of a chapbook called Field Recordings. And here is Ed Skoog's poem for you:
Recent Changes At Canter's Deli
The telephone is no longer upstairs. Cut fruit in cold cup will never be whole. Nothing is where it was. The plate is beside the bowl. My mind’s all fucked up, distorted, pale light reflected on stainless steel of the walk-in cooler. It is not where it was. Here’s the spike to build a body of receipt. Sweat collects on the waterpitcher lip like the goodbye of a woman I loved. The clerk bends his body to pray the miracle of the handwashing station, turns knife to loaf. The present pours into the pepper shaker. It settles silk ivy of the now. Odds fade in the sports section fallen between the counter, where paying my bill I orphan a dime for a silver mint, and the window snows sun brilliant on Fairfax, demanding the commute. They are not letting me drive anymore and turning onto Melrose on the bus, the driver, I overhear, has another job, one he doesn’t know the name for. Up in the haze some undiscovered animal watches us, its plan mapped out, fire swinging up the canyons, unfolding until flame may flicker tip of sabertooth fang in the museum where rare finds are hidden. I too am a dinosaur. Rawr. My little claws. I’m the dredge flopping for tar from the pits. Click. I am a kind of David Bowie in the Amoeba Records everything’s-a-dollar bin. I have four fingers and a thumb on my right hand, equal representation on the left, and fourteen billion toes. I’m a windup rooster. Who I am and what I feel is irrelevant enough to be central to project of contemporary American poetry. Or perhaps any art. Poetry’s just the form of unimportance I teach teenagers above LA under slanted windows that kill, by surprise, the birds we then write about, gathering bonfire around the small corpses, because it’s cold here.
Rawr! Many thanks to Julie Larios and hooray for, and thanks to, Ed Skoog. Tune in next Friday at noon to see who he picks to be the 17th entry in the Seattle Poetry Chain.