Saturday, November 17, 2007

Kilmer 2007: The Third Runner-Up

For Abbot
by Jeana Poindexter, CC '11

spewing self-righteousness into the face of capitalism
Neo-libertarianism is the way of the future
and it looks even better when it’s written in a tiny four dollar moleskine that I bought from the bookstore as though this school doesn’t suck enough money out of the pockets of my rich—but liberal—parents who also graduated from here
with honors
a retrospective introspection into the expository proposition of the theoretical existence of a hypothetical combination of righteousness and wrong-ness…ness
and I’ve read some books so I know what I mean when I say that Darfur
is really bad
and veganism is a conscious decision not to propagate the instigation of agricultural desecration on a totally
you know,
organic level
So go green for fair trade and fuck Bush and buy a tiny journal
because everyone knows that writing about the issues in a really great way
while casually smoking a Marlborough Light and sipping a Venti half caff made with Soy milk, of course, is the only way we can like
change the world…
or whatever

Friday, November 16, 2007

Kilmer 2007: The Winner

My Husband Was In There, Like A Kumquat!
or, Explosion At The Poem Factory
or, 364 Days Without A Lost Rhyme Accident
or, St. Elmo's Fife
or, It's Definitely One Of These Titles, We Haven't Conclusively Determined Which Quite Yet, But Don't Worry, Forensic Poets Are Already On The Scene And We'll Be Sure To Keep You Posted
or, This Just In, It's Not The Fife One

by Amitai Schlair, GS '09

Poetry is like sausage.
Venison villanelles, saucisson sestinas, braunschweiger ballades, kielbasa couplets,
Pure pork pastourelles.
We simply go to the book-tcher shop and point to what we want:
"The summer sausage and the sunshine patriot ale..."
Some say it is best, for fullest enjoyment, not to know how our poems are prepared.
We hear the glorious end result and imagine the ink, the sweat, the blood, the eyeballs, the gizzards, the salvaged anuses
That went into it.
But only metaphorically.
Today we are reminded that it is all too real.
For today, in a quiet neighborhood unaccustomed to strife,
Tragedy has hungrily struck.

It is true that the great poems of canon are wrought by artists of the highest order,
Artists willing to sacrifice for every gleaming word their ink, their sweat, their blood
And occasionally their other stuff.
Yet those exalted poems are but a small sliver of the poetic ecosystem.
We could not have our teeming multitudes of lesser poems, were they wrought artis-anally.
Today, we must come full facial with the very real, very human, and very dead
Real humans who have given us so much.

In a bygone era we would have lost our local poemsmith and his trusty apprentice,
And would have relied on monthly shipments of scrawled parchment by horse from the Bronx.
A great loss, to be sure, but we would have overcome.
Changing economic conditions forced the poem manufacturing industry to consolidate
And outsource to former British colonies with proportionally fewer white people.
So it was a real point of pride when Amalgamated Verse and Strophe
Decided to build a poem factory right here in Morningside Heights
Despite knowing full well that a handful of conscientious objectors would vocally oppose the move.

In its first year, the factory brought jobs and economic stability to the area
And increased the quantity of mediocre multipurpose poem output by 47% without any statistically significant increase in quality.
Times were good for the poem industry and its industrious workers.
But this morning, for reasons as yet unknown, things took a turn for the bratwurst.

Right now, all we know is that the metaphor mixer malfunctioned,
Yielding metaphors well above acceptable purity levels.
The poem-production system was not designed to withstand this kind of artistic improvement
And the machinery failures cascaded catastrophically
Starting with the top-of-the-line Mephistropheles 9000.
The spring fell out of the sprung rhythm onto the shop floor;
The amphibrach broke;
The enjambment jammed;
The anacrusis, encrusted;
And the kenning ceased to ken.

The employee nearest the delivery dock, who operated the meter meter, observed the assembly line moving slow as molossus
And immediately knew something was a foot.
"Wait a minute," he says he said. "Iamb quite certain even our sweetest poems contain no molossus!"
And he drove off in one of the delivery trochees, a converted Nissan Stanza, moments before the factory's structural concrete verses shattered and splattered acrostic the shop floor.
If only his coworkers had had the good sestina to do limerikewise, perhaps more of them would be alitterive todouble-dactyl.

In this time of grief, we are left with many questions.
Could the tragedy have been averted?
What caused poem quality to rise so dangerously high?
What's molossus mean, anyway?
We may never have satisfactory answers to these questions.
Even so, we must honor the memory of those who died so that ordinary poetry might live.
I ask each of you now to recall a particularly empty cliché,
A tenuous metaphor,
A tenuous rhyme,
A repeated adjective,
A breath taken between lines
Where there was no intervening punctuation --
Or to conjure a new and inelegant turn.
Just something to recall the eminently imitable style of those who are now gone from us.
We will now observe a moment of silence for the deceased poem-laborers.


Kilmer 2007: The First Runner-Up

I Got a Post-Modern Woman
Or: I Got Ninety-Nine Problematizations, and a Bitch is One.
Or: Martin Heidegger? I Hardly Know Her!

by Everett Patterson, CC '06 (if a poem can be said to be "by" anyone)

I wish I could find an old-fashioned woman,
The kind I could bring home to daddy and mommy,
Who likes to read James Joyce and listen to Webern
And loves Jackson Pollock and Salvador Dali

I thought I had found her; I'd actually done it!
When I looked in her eyes, it was more than a feeling.
We met at a modern museum exhibit,
The kind where they hang hunks of meat from the ceiling.

I knew that this girl represented the Real;
Between Beauty and Truth there was not one disjunction.
The flesh incarnation of Plato's ideal,
Lemme tell ya', her form really followed her function! (wink)

No Schoenberg sonata could sing my felicity,
Until it was silenced by vexing perplexity;
When I mentioned a world of Socratic Simplicity,
She spoke of a matrix of sprawling complexity.

She's so fascinated with knowledge and power,
She evaluates me when I do something dignified.
We went on a date and I brought her some flowers;
Instead of accepting, she asked what they signified.

Our romantic dinners are so referential,
I have a hard time keeping up intellectually.
Her conception of love is a vast differential,
And to make matters worse, she's unsatisfied... textually.

Now I'm not Saussure, but I have my suspicions
My cunning linguistics do not satisfy her.
No matter how much we revise our positions,
I can't seem to ignite her sigini-fire.

The bedroom, like Jean Baudrillard, is depressing
And when we Foucault, there's a lot of confusion.
She often will still be rephrasing the question
By the time I have already reached my conclusion.

She creates simulacra of fake spontaneity
Whenever we're doing the Jacques Derri-deed.
I suspect she dissimulates simultaneity
(If you didn't just hear what I Edward Said.)

And during our interrelational forays
She grabs Mr. Wiggenstein, refusing to let go.
She screams "deconstruct me, you Whore Luis Borges!"
"I Immanuel Kant!" is my Umberto Echo.

Our love's metaphizzled; I'm not sentimental,
But I don't want a girl who's so purely performative.
She needs to acknowledge a few transcendentals.
I'm not asking for normal; I'd settle for normative.

I feel like a chauvinist racist imperialist
Since this whole non-Platonic relationship started.
Why didn't I date that dialectical materialist?
I must have been Jean-Francoise Lyotarded!

Got a postmodern woman, she treats me so mean (harmonica solo)
Got a postmodern woman, Lord*, she treats me so mean (harmonica solo)
She's the meanest old woman that I ever done seen (The harmonica solo never happened.)

*who doesn't exist except as a network of metanarratives

Kilmer 2007: The Second Runner-Up

the shape of my love
by Joshua Schwartz, GS '08

I would be a harp for you
that you may play your fingers across my strings
send shivering vibrations up my spine, an addictive fever
under the blankets of your warmth.

i would be sharp for you
like a knife, glittering ethereally in the night
like a brilliant question from the mouth of
a promising young student
or a delicious cheddar cheese
mmmmmm... cheddar
how is my love like a cheese?
well, cheddar cheese is hard... and pale yellow to orange,
and: after heating, the curd is cut into cubes
to drain the whey, then stacked and turned.

i would be a B-sharp for you
an impossible note, hovering over the staff...
of possibility.
why not just call me a middle C?
because i love you. that's why.

i would be a tarp for you
to keep you safe from the storm and the wet
to save you from catching a chill
and becoming ill
and while you sleep, i would look over you
while you sleep, all bundled up in your sleeping bag
while you sleep, i am watching you.
while you sleep.

i would be an Arp for you
an alsatian artist and poet who was cofounder of dadaism in zurich
noted for abstract organic sculptures...
and loving you all up on your body.

i would be a carp for you
a proud white fish
with scales gleaming like the rainbow
you could raise me in your bathtub, and
you could grind me up all sexy like
we could feed a hungry jewish family
because who doesn't think gefilte fish is hot?
no one doesn't think that. that's who.

I would be a Garp for you
the bastard son of a technical sergeant and a castrating mother
living a life of "lunacy and sorrow"
learning painfully from my sexual relationships
until you.
and the world according to me
would be one of our love.

but i would never LARP for you
because it's for nerds,
and i am one of the cool kids.