which you say
that rug out
feet, daily. Bill Knott (1940-2014)
In this week’s Sunday NY Times Book Review, Kathleen Rooney critiqued “Selected Poems, 1960-2014” by Bill Knott. I wasn’t familiar with his poetry, but the April 3 edition of the New Yorker also reviewed his work. From these two sources (and the excerpts printed in each review) I became curious. As April is poetry month, I thought learning more about Mr. Knott and his work would be an endeavor worth pursuing.
Knott was brilliant but morbid and an eccentric to boot. In 1968 he published (under the pseudonym Saint Geraud) “the Naomi Poems: Corpse and Beans”. Towards the end of his life, he self-published collections via Amazon. A friend and colleague of Knott’s has just released a collection through Farrar, Straus & Giroux: “I Am Flying into Myself: Selected Poems, 1960-2014” which I have just ordered. From the reviews in both publications I am expecting a roller coaster ride through (as Rooney says: “free verse, strict rhyme and meter, with subject matter zany yet poignant, romance, terror, and hilarity.”)
I admire poets, and though I have written “poems” myself, I don’t consider myself to be a poet. Love of language notwithstanding, I lack the ability to communicate that “shock of recognition” that true poets exhibit. Yet, I persist. Why? I guess I want what Bill Knott suggests is possible—that stamina “to pull /that rug out/ from under/ [my] own/ feet daily.” Instead, I’m more like the speaker in another of Knott’s short poems “Security.”
If I had a magic carpet
I’d keep it
Right in front of me
Perpendicular, like a door.
April just may be the month (the cruelest month?) to try again.