Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Intro for Macgregor Card, Powell’s Books, 3/14/10

About 45 pairs of ear turned out to hear Brandon Downing and Macgregor Card at Powell’s on Hawthorne Sunday, including those of local poets Jules Boykoff, Lisa Ciccarello, Allison Cobb, Jen Coleman, Gale Czerski, Donald Dunbar, Emily Kendal Frey, Lindsay Hill, Drew Scott Swenhaugen, Kevin Sampsell, Zachary Schomburg, and Wayne Craig Pernu of Portland lit rock act The Telling. Here’s the intro I gave for Macgregor. It missed the secret Dante/Futura font messaging Gary caught, but he did open with some Spasmodically awesome Dobbell.
Macgregor Card’s first name is Macgregor. Just stop for a second and think how cool that is. It suggests a kind of inborn gift for names, which extends to his legendary journal, The Germ—one of the last print journals to matter before print got precious and luxe—and continues with his debut full-length collection, Duties of an English Foreign Secretary, winner of the 2009 Fence Modern Poets Prize.

Besides being one of the best names for a book of poems ever, Macgregor’s title carries a whole theory of poetry in miniature. Isn’t it one of the poet’s duties to treat English like it’s foreign? To make the mother tongue feel new and strange? Shelley called poets the unacknowledged legislators of the world, but I’m inclined to Macgregor’s view that they’re more secretary than CEO, transcribing the minutes that get into the file marked History.

Many of the poems are made from lines Macgregor’s exchanged over the years with the poet
Karen Weiser, so there’s an element of correspondence, too—poetry as a product of friendship and social exchange. And the fact that the title’s borrowed from Sydney Dobbell, an obscure Victorian Spasmodic, points to a certain light-handed responsibility to the past—poet as rememberer and recoverer, amnesia’s wordy enemy. People, do your duty to la lengua and please join me in welcoming Macgregor Card.


L. said...

Oh oh oh! I wish I'd realized that was you giving the intro -- I would have happily introduced myself & thanked you for having my blog in yr links!

But anyway -- thanks! & so close!

rodney k said...

Hi Lisa,

Thanks for your note--didn't realize you were there! Hope you don't mind me adding you above.

Hope to meet you next time. Love your blog.

L. said...


Don't mind you adding me at all -- just sorry to have missed the chance to meet!

Thanks! I'll try to show it more love!