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What Narcissism Means to Me

25 Oct 2006

I am almost done with What Narcissism Means To Me by Tony Hoagland that Lindsay let me borrow. It is a wonderful book of poetry. I know, it goes against my vow of non-fiction, but its short and I needed a break. And sweet lord, its damn good.

This collection of poems is an amazing representation on what American culture is to those luckily thoughtful people and what thoughtful people might know about America deep in their hearts. Its not the news, its what you feel when you read the news but can’t find the words for. His imagery is so simple but he says all the right things. He uses a free verse with little to no meter or rhyme (I am no expert), but those lines breaks are right where they need to be. He makes you pause when you need to and speeds you up when its gettin’ hot. These poems read so well, poetically and contextually. He’s so subtly funny, you don’t even notice the beautiful images he puts in your head.

Some of my favorite parts

“Reasons to Survive November”: This whole poem is great, expecially as November creeps up. He describes how he must survive, if just to piss off the people that hate him.

and my happiness would kill them
so I shove joy like a knife
into my own heart over and over

and I force myself toward pleasure,
and I love this November life
where I run like a train
deeper and deeper
into the land of my enemies “Two Trains”: A simple thought about a song on the radio turns into so much more.

What grief it is to love some people like your own
blood, and then to see them simply disappear;
to feel time bearing us away
one boxcar at a time. “Fortune”: This is a hilarious poem about a fortune cookie.

Maybe you will marry a red-haired woman.
Maybe you are going to take a long journey.
Maybe a red-haired woman will steal you car and take a long journey. “Man Carrying Sofa”:

And this particular complex pain inside your chest;
this damaged longing
like a heavy piece of furniture inside you;
you carry it, it burdens you, it drags you down –
then you stop, and rest on top of it.

Other Resources

  What Survives
I Am Gald You Were Born Today