Answering Back

Answering Back
—for Carol Ann Duffy

“For this anthology, Answering Back, I invited the best of our contemporary poets to select a poem, or poem in translation, from a poet from the past which they would like to answer in some way. Around fifty of the poets responded. There is quite a bit of exchanging of glances across the crowded centuries.”—Carol Ann Duffy, Foreword, Answering Back: Living poets reply to the poetry of the past

Naturally I was—somewhat disappointed
Finding that all of—Duffy’s poetry books
Were gone—swept from the shelves of
The book temples—Barnes & Noble and
Borders—even Open Books in Seattle
As well as holds—on all her books at
The Seattle Public Library—oh dear me.

Luckily I came across—this anthology
Edited by Carol Ann Duffy—a rare find
Entitled Answering Back—Picador 2007
Full of echoing poets—and poems
A Calling Forth—an Answering Back
Poets now—writing backwards in time
Poets past—echoing back to them

Finding this exercise—rather intriguing
Pretending I was—one of the best of
Our contemporary poets—naturally I
Chose Auden’s—“The Platonic Blow”
Well-known as—“A Day for a Lay”
As my humble—pseudo-submission
For this fascinating—Mission Impossible

Published the first time—by Ed Sanders
As “The Platonic Blow”—way back when in
Fuck You/A Magazine of the Arts (1965)
Later as “A Gobble Poem”—in London by
Fuck Books Unlimited (1967)—later in
Amsterdam by Suck (1969)—then by Avant
Garde (1970)—as well as Gay Sunshine
Journal (1974)—and Gay Roots (1991)

Kenneth Rexroth—is quoted as saying:
“Wystan told me—that he had learned
more about writing poetry—from writing
“The Platonic Blow”—than anything he
had ever written”—and Auden did a lot
of writing—he was a man who always
felt compelled to write—and write

“Unless I write something—anything
Good, indifferent—or trashy everyday
I feel ill—to me the only good reason
For writing—is to try to organize my
Scattered thoughts—of living into a
Whole—to relate everything to
Every thing else—to pay the price”

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