the eschorama newsletter

art, books, creative writing, fiction, history, literature, music, philosophy, podcast, poetry, reviews, spoken word, writing

In May I started writing a newsletter about my creative life at substack.com. It contains essays, creative nonfiction pieces, short stories, poems, songs, reviews of books and music, podcast announcements, and talk about the craft of writing and creativity in general. I’ll use this blog to announce new issues, which come out every 7 to 10 days.

If you like what you see there, sign up to receive new issues by email. Go to eschorama.substack.com

Thanks for checking it out.

Anne Carson · Poem: ‘Lark’

books, creative writing, literature, poetry

Freezing daffodils nod against
April snow. Long queue at the
food store. Brilliant deaths cut
the day. Hal was only 64. He
had sung kaddish for someone
else not long ago and no one
expected – even the lark does
not see the Open, someone
said in another time.

Source: Anne Carson · Poem: ‘Lark’ · LRB 21 May 2020

Note: “even the lark does not see the Open” refers to a claim made in the work of Heidegger

 

Suzanne

music, poetry

During the quarantine, I have been practicing more guitar, specifically aiming to improve my woeful finger picking skills. One of the songs I practice regularly is the gem from Leonard Cohen, “Suzanne.” Below is a printable 1-page lyric and chord sheet for anyone who wants to play along.

My first exposure to this classic came from a very obscure source. When I was a teenager, my family would sometimes sojourn over to Lancaster county, Pennsylvania and shop at the Park City Mall, a massive shopping mecca, rivaled in size only by King of Prussia mall in our region. Anyway, there was a record shop there–I think it was called Record Bar or Record Town. I have a vivid memory of finding in the bargain bins some albums for something like a buck, each. In that small batch was a CCR budget compilation, two Guess Who albums, and an album by a band called The California Earthquake called Resurrection. I knew nothing about that band; I merely thought the cover art looked cool, so I took a chance.


Reformation by The California Earthquake, 1971

It turns out that The California Earthquake was like Christian rock with a Blood, Sweat, & Tears vibe. Check out the discogs entry for more details on this truly obscure LP. The album itself was mostly forgettable, but there was this one track on side 2 that caught my ear:

“Suzanne” by The California Earthquake

It was an oblique way to encounter a classic song for the first time. I never forgot the song, though, and it led me inexorably to seek out who this songwriter Leonard Cohen might be. Later, I would discover more famous and worthier versions by Leonard himself, Judy Collins, and others.

Leonard Cohen, “Suzanne”
Judy Collins’ cover of “Suzanne”, 1967

It has been covered by countless artists. Here’s a recent take by Peter Gabriel:

“Suzanne,” covered by Peter Gabriel

I think what struck me upon my first listen was the poetry of the lyrics, the kind of hypnotic, lingering way that the melody lines weave through the chord progression. It was like the music was bowing down in reverence to the words. The song billows with atmosphere and tangible imagery and wisdom:

There are heroes in the seaweed, there are children in the morning
They are leaning out for love and they will lean that way forever
While Suzanne holds the mirror

from “Suzanne”, last verse

How could a pensive suburban teen NOT be impressed at that? I felt like I was discovering a new bohemian world distinct and apart from my own, where truths could be told by following an artistic vision.

I think I’ll try to arrange a cover of this one soon. If something decent comes out, I’ll post it.

Academy Award for Decline of America, 2017

poetry, Uncategorized

unreal country trapped in reality show fever dream administrations,

a golden wall of stupid with no exits, escape lanes blocked,

even the glitz distractions come to fuckup.

cue the clowns, ghosts, frauds, miscreants and posers

all the dumb asses stormed the stage, they own this show about nothing

why bother reading books, “how do you turn them on?”

we can’t even do envelopes right,

can’t even read the names of winners from a card.

 

 

 

 

 

Burn It

creative writing, poetry

Burn the pages, burn them all
torch your etched and crazy faces.

Watch the tricky blue flame ebb,
watch it dissipate before you get on.

Gifts and turn offs: inscriptions, hot tears:
sweet wood chopped, stacked in a pile.

Splintered ink curls, black characters hiss,
spitting little whiffs of self.

Monumental ash assembles, bald embarrassments,
dumb cravings tilted, listed, fell.

Trails of smoke feed midnight blues.
Walk away from the burning man.

Walk, look back more, pull away until
a lonely road intersects,

and you turn down the long road
forgetting what you came for.

The Impressive Idiot

poetry

The impressive idiot’s leg sleeps —
a bleached newspaper in his beefsteak hands,
its black iron stories like stripes, bars,
stone slab sad, death by thousand needles.
Enlarged shadows of jet planes cross him.
His dawdling boots float over the bench edge
like rusty buoys above a submerged city.