A lovely couple of lines from Vera Pavlova and four poems:
Only she who has breast-fed
knows how beautiful the ear is.
Lines from my favorite roguishly windblown hair’ed poet Donald Hall (from Advent):
When I know that the grave is empty,
Absence eviscerates me,
And I dwell in a cavernous, constant
Timothy Murphy (who rhymed “whored” with “Lord” in one poem) writes:
Lord, the broken spirit,
the sorrows in my heart
are much, much to inherit
and hard, hard to impart.
The dense but exhilarating Fanny Howe poem “A Hymn” begins with Fyodor:
When I fall into the abyss, I go straight into it, head down and heels up, and I’m even pleased that I’m falling in just such a humiliating position, and for me I find it beautiful. And so in that very shame I suddenly begin a hymn.
Also my favorite quote from Carmine Starnino’s essay Lazy Bastardism:
Lazy bastardism kowtows to the convenience of see-Jane-run simple-mindedness because, by gosh, that’s what most people want from their poetry. Lazy bastardism is the only way to explain the existence of phrases like “the roaring juggernaut of time” or “the once gurgling fountain of creativity” (both plucked from Billy Collins’s The Trouble with Poetry). Lazy bastardism will never come clean and tell you that poetry is an acquired taste, that the pleasure of reading it is assembled over years from smaller, slow-to-learn skills. Lazy bastardism will never insist that you should read a lot of poems, old and new, and try to keep them in your head to help train and trust your ear. And lazy bastardism will certainly never stress that you need to love poetry’s artificial and formal aspects.
- Any movie viewed in the year 2009 that I haven’t seen before qualifies for the list.
- I balance artistic merit with a swinging good time.
- In order of importance I rank artistic brilliance, “re-view-ability”, and only then “a swinging good time”.
- I do twelve top movies (B-listing 12 more). Consider it cinema calendrics.
The selections for 2009:
1. Thin Red Line : Terrence Malick : 1998
Terrence Malick is lyrical with the camera, a cinematic Psalmist. The Thin Red Line is a war movie like no other, reflective, poetic, tragic. Jumps immediately into my top fifteen favorite films of all time.
2. Happy Go Lucky : Mike Leigh : 2008
An infectious film. Sally Hawkins plays a character who is so oddball and all over that she can only be loved or hated for it. I loved her for it.
3. Rachel Getting Married : Jonathan Demme : 2008
I don’t know how Anne Hathaway ended up in this film, but never have I seen such a contrast between self-indulgent misery and corporate celebration. A perfect compliment to Margot at the Wedding.
4. The Wrestler : Darren Aronofsky : 2008
Darren Aronofsky’s “The Passion of Christ” cynically remixed as the Ram of God who wrestles with the sins of the world. Despite its subject matter it’s a pull-no-punches film.
5. Apocalypse Now : Francis Ford Coppola : 1979
A war classic that is gripping up until its soft conclusion, ending in whimper rather than bang.
6. The Hurt Locker : Kathryn Bigelow : 2008
A movie that is full of bang, Jarhead without the cinematic gloss.
7. Lat Den Ritte Komma In (aka Let the Right One In) : Tomas Alfredson : 2008
An atypical vampire film that I’ve described as “John Carpenter passed through Gus Van Sant”. I discuss the true horror of it here.
8. Days of Heaven : Terrence Malick : 1978
Terrence Malick is a master of visuals. If there were a “Top 100 Scenes List” he’d own a quarter of it.
9. Goodbye Solo : Ramin Bahrani : 2008
A dark film, but one of the richest I’ve ever seen. The final ten minutes are breathtaking.
10. Up : Pete Docter : 2009
While not a perfect film Pixar continues to raise the bar.
11. Sommarnattens Leende (aka Smiles of a Summer Night) : Ingmar Bergman : 1955
My classic film appreciation continues to grow, Ingmar Bergman’s entertaining romantic farce is still immanently watchable.
12. Transsiberian : Brad Anderson : 2008
This quiet but haunting film escalates beautifully.
Click here for the best of the rest:
- Pan’s Labrynth
- 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days
- Spirited Away
- The Hurt Locker
- The Lord of the Rings : The Return of the King
- Couching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
- Yi Yi*
[* 35 Shots of Rum was 10th, but it has the fewest reviews of the top fifteen films]
The best poems from Poetry Magazine by month in descending order (July and August is a double issue):
(runner-up: Vanity Flare by Wendy Videlock)
10. Teeth by Kevin McFadden July/Aug.
(runner-up: “Was you ever bit by a dead bee?” by Hailey Leithauser)
(runner-up: Stanzas by Sergei Gandlevskii)
8. Uptick by John Ashbery Mar.
(runner-up: Lines for Winter by Dave Lucas)
7. Idiot Psalm #2 by Scott Cairns Jan.
(runner-up: La Petite Vie by Allen Edwin Butt)
6. Tulips by A.E. Stallings June
(runner-up: A Marriage in the Dolomites by D. Nurkse)
5. New Endymion by W.S. Di Piero Oct.
(runner-up: Atmosphere by A.V. Christie)
4. Lascaux by Joseph Spece Nov.
(runner-up: Plumblossom by Eric Ekstrand)
(runner-up: Deaf Republic: 9 by Ilya Kaminsky)
(runner-up: Non Redimus by Jill Alexander Essbaum)
1. O by Atsuro Riley Sept.
(runner-up: Insomnia & So On by Malachi Black)
Best Cover : July/August
Best Line : “in a world made brief with flowers”
-Dean Young, To Those of You Alive in the Future