Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The V.F.W. Crawling Contest

The late great joel oppenheimer wrote what I call "walking poems." The poet out for a stroll, unconcerned if what results is or is not a poem. It's related to artist Paul Klee's definition of a line as a point going for a walk, & Klee had one of the most beautiful lines ever seen in art. Diane Wakoski said this poem Op made was the kind of poem everyone would write if everyone wrote poems. Which she would know because she wrote those poems, too. So did Frank O'Hara. There's all different types of "walking poems." But the greatest "walking poem" I ever read is "The V.F.W. Crawling Contest" by Ed Sanders, a biiterly funny critique of America written from a vantage point of voluntary degradation. Ed doesn't even say why one would enter the contest, or what one would win, or how one would win it. But it does say something about the perverse American masochism, peculiar to the United States among western nations, currently on display in New Jersey, where people condemn labor unions, fair contracts, good working conditions, wages sufficient to support a family, reasonable vacation time, & job security, even as - or maybe because - their own employers crap on them, outsource their jobs overseas, find ways to replace experienced, older workers with cheaper, younger workers, & anyone suggesting a more equitable workplace is accused of fomenting class warfare.

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"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson

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