this is the one i used
1000 WORDS OR LESS ON THE GHOST SOLDIERS BY JAMES TATE
I like James Tate.
I like James Tate because when I read James Tate I feel like anything could happen. That my shoelace could have come untied, or a bear could be roaming the streets, or my neighbor’s house could have suddenly exploded and after everyone walked away from the scene they got into a car i never knew they owned and changed the plates and rode off into the sunset with different haircuts, that my mother could be dying of cancer, that I could go off and “pee behind my car in the darkness of my own private darkness.” I think that the ability for anything to happen at any time is important. For us to feel that we exist in a place of possibility, because we do. That is the sort of place we exist in and it is very easy to forget that, or it sometimes seems that way to me.
I like James Tate because in this book he places equal importance on everything. A better way to put that might be that I think it is important that things are presented to us. That they are not presented with judgments attached to them; that things are not emphasized; that things are simply presented. That tying a shoelace that has come untied is as important as the doings at the new mall or soldiers falling from the sky or cooking dinner or a woman being really really weird about her rooster that is named Waylon. That police officer’s are hiding in wait for us as we pee behind our cars. That the fact that we each of us see the same thing and think something completely different is talked about the same way filing a tax return is talked about. It makes me feel that getting a blow job or watching your mother get run over by a semi truck or wearing wet socks in the cold or eating oatmeal whether you like it or not can all be described using similar phrasings and simple language in order for the judgments to be carried out by the reader.
I like this book because it feels like a more sure-footed version of RETURN TO THE CITY OF WHITE DONKEYS. And I really liked that one a lot.
This book probably has more references to war and things ending and going nowhere than the other books I have read of Tate’s (WORSHIPFUL COMPANY OF FLETCHERS, MEMOIR OF THE HAWK, DONKEYS, also the poem GOODTIME JESUS which i thought was great). There are a lot of poems in it. There are 94 poems and 217 numbered pages of poetry. They add up to give the collective feel of a body of work. I like the fact that every poem is written in the same voice. That none of these poems feel like they were some sort of experiment and placed next to each other to show the breadth and depth of the authors imagination and experience and originality and a sense that as a poet and human being there is little that the author could not accomplish. It is very important to me that this is a book of poems working towards a common goal.
My friend told me the other day when he gave me the book back, that he’d read probably like the first 40 or 60 pages or so before he gave it back (because I asked for it back to probably use for this essay). As an explanation for only having read 40 or 60 pages, he said that once you’d read one Tate book you’d probably read most of them. I sort of agree, but mostly not at all. Once you’ve read one James Tate poem you understand how James Tate writes a poem, and will write most and basically every poem of his you read. Or once you read the first couple poems in the book you can more or less understand how the rest of the poems are going to be written. And that the possibilities ahead are not so much boundless as with a boundary that is far off. That I am not wearing my glasses and don’t know how far it is and I don’t care. I don’t read James Tate to figure out how he wrote that poem. I read David Foster Wallace to sort of scratch my head like that. I read James Tate to see what happens next. Because something is always happening, even when it isn’t. I like that. I like that it is full of possibility. I like being reminded of that. It is very important, and we could all do to be reminded that anything could happen and it will, so there.