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We’re Not Always Jerks, You Know

May 21, 2008

So when one sets one’s google alert to “contemporary poetry” one doesn’t expect much. Well, one expects to get a lot of hits well worth some scorn. We don’t know what it is about contemporary poetry that effectively lowers the bar for expository writing, but we can’t help but bitch about it. Constantly. But not always! Enter this not at all annoying or coy profile of poet and Silver Jews frontman, David Berman. First off, the title has nothing to do with April being cruel; it’s actually quite practical and compelling. Freedom From Ickiness? I want Freedom From Ickiness! David Berman sounds like the poet for me!

He samples Emily Dickinson and it’s a genuine surprise that this is a musical first–surely Girl Talk has managed this, no? No. We like that Berman’s approach to poetry and music is to regard them as a fluid aesthetic unit; transformative in dual application. Transformative like the heroic Autobot, Optimus Prime, whose dual nature allowed him to transform from a semi truck into a half robot, half combat deck capable of defending the freedom of sentient beings everywhere. It seems that many of David’s musically inclined peers just can’t pull it off. I mean cause let’s face it…a LOTTA folks play the guitar and write poetry. We’ve slept with almost all of them. But it doesn’t mean it’s any good. Trust us, those two things together do not a virtue make. Stephen Malkmus’ book will probably suck. And be about his wife and family or some crap like that. Best not to think about it too much.

Maybe the best part is that, in reading the article, one can misread and conjure up the phrase “Art for Berman’s sake” (“But in an indie culture that worships the idea of music as Art, Berman’s take–“).


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