boundary 2 29.1 (2002) 45-48

Distress or a deaf
from Natta de mina, 1997

Stig Larsson

Writing bad poetry
Many people do. So many people do.

I am humiliated,
but don't I exaggerate now? —

or, yes — I feel humiliated

just by the fact
that it is —
yeah, that this is
poetry. This is poetry. This is poetry.

Did Virgil write bad poetry as well? —

The answer: All great poets
would probably have done it
some time: written poetry this bad. All the major poets,
Famous writers such as
Lucan — persons or more accurately SHADOWS [End Page 45]
in that circle of poets
that Dante describes —
it was in the shape of a circle he is describing them, wasn't it? The shape of
     a wheel?

The answer (but who is giving me this answer?) that I AM NOT


Ovid was too experienced,
too juvenile. And what
about Joseph Conrad? I am not alone: the shadows are watching me —
and isn't
it so
that they smile at me? That the


that described Mr. Jacobus' daughter, the


that described Mr. Jacobi's daughter — both of them will smile . . . But to be
honest there are so many
Conrad and Schmidt,

maybe the reader doesn't know to whom I refer — and
on the other hand I can't be that much more explicit without the
poem becoming so bad that it
will be, I mean what I say, unreadable . . . Schmidt —
yeah, that
was even the name of a Swedish tennis player in the early sixties;
I remember how I took the bus
to Marieheman, in the sunshine dazzling white suburb east of UmeÂ,
to some friends of my parents, Tore and Ulla-Britt, to
watch a Davis Cup match with Uffe —
that was his name — Uffe Schmidt, I believe our TV was broken
or whatever happened? Did they show the match on channel 2
and our family didn't have channel 2? — yeah, there's a WHOLE LOT OF
you just don't remember. [End Page 46]
That THESE SHADOWS seemed to smile —
especially since one of them,
the — not blind, where did they get that from? — deaf Homer. He was
deaf. Yes, he
was deaf . . . And that now the deaf Homer by the end of the Iliad,
just because he feels like it, just because his self-confidence
is so great, writes something down that he himself
perceives as bad: something like Abre Se Ken
Habe Si. — I myself don't know any Greek. In a fancied Homeric Greek
I imagine "Abre Se Ken Habe Si . . ."
Not being alone writing
this bad poetry.

Me writing this poem about A Funny News Item: the findings
a scientist in Tokyo, Hideo Nishioka, was to have published. The last
page of Expressen approximately five years ago. — That's right! It says 1990
     up in the
left corner. You can also catch a glimpse of some temperature information
on the ripped out half of the last page: in Sweden
the coldest 20 degrees below and the warmest 5 degrees. Then it must
have been in the winter, I would guess December '90, the week before
     Christmas . . . yes
I imagine how I, having looked up from Expressen,
peered out through a window: there was actually some Christmas spirit.
In the apartment building across the street you could see two and — as
     I leaned forward,
below me to the right — yet another three illuminated stars. — In three
windows. It was by then I recalled not remembering the exact numbers,
had once again looked down at the news item in Expressen: That's right!
Nishiokas statistical inquiry showed among other things
female Japanese students on average used
12 1/2 meters of toilet paper a day, more than three times the males,
what does the parenthesis say? — 3 1/2 meters . . . This that I am
     writing right
now, that I know is bad — and that I, irrespective of how I
elaborate it, never will get right — makes me
feel that I am not alone: NOT ALONE
writing this bad poetry. [End Page 47]
One could of course imagine
that this feeling was REASSURING but this

feeling is not reassuring: almost . . . the opposite . . .

It feels terrible that this
will also apply to . . . Yes, one has to be able to imagine this — Homer,
even he
may nod off, don't they say that even the sun has spots?

— Really. Is that so?
That doesn't feel reassuring does it? Nope.
Is it

thus because perfection

it thus depends upon the fact that one
then understands

perfection is not, yes but what is it tehn? — human,

that it
is not human,
perfection is not human — o-oo-oo, o oooh

(Translated from Swedish by Anders Lundberg and Jesper Olsson)