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Rereading these much-anthologized poems, I wonder whether Bidart empathizes with the poor prodigious songwriters of his generation, whose early hits—ear-grabbing, quotable, taken to be quintessential—become enshrined as classic rock staples, losing all context in the process, overshadowing decades of outstanding work to come. What reaches him except disaster?

Jeet Thayil (poet) - India - Poetry International

Read the first three books entire, in order, and the early Bidart seems less consistent yet more various, and somehow stranger. Central to all these endeavors was capturing the voice, the inimitable grain, of an individual who deviates from decorum, convention, or received wisdom though not all speakers deviate in the same ways, as some earlier reviewers—who grouped gay men and amputees alongside serial killers and rapists—seemed to believe.

Bidart forgoes much of conventional poetic artifice—sensuous imagery and painterly observation, consonant rhyme and formal finish, surface lightness and unraveling conceits—but the skeletal style that remains is still labored over, deliberately sculpted, nowhere near natural speech. Increasingly, his recent poems make patterns of unsettlement: they alternate single lines and couplets and allow lines to fluctuate widely in length, between single words and breathless bursts. Regular meter promises not stability but unbreakable cycles of thought or behavior.

His subjects—violence, power, gender, sexuality—have been political from the start, but his recent poems freely zoom out from the body to the body politic, registering atrocity on the scale of nations, wars, the entire earth. The latest collections introduce us to Bidart in old age, but also Bidart the child, the adolescent, the undergraduate: here he wonders what, if anything, has changed in the decades between.

Everything Bidart can do—every mode and innovation, every experiment in verse and prose, drama and lyric—has found its way into his unprecedented and unthinkably bizarre sequence, the Hours of the Night. Bidart must find this heartening: an unfinishable task for an insoluble problem.

The surprise in reading the Hours and the recent lyrics side by side is that the two endeavors have nearly all the same virtues. Of not allowing what happened to happen. Yet half-light, coming from Bidart, is never an insufficiency. Ignorant fish, who even wants the fly while writhing. The sleepless body hammering a nail nails itself, hanging crucified. Ask the crucified hand that holds the nail that now is driven into itself, why. Premiering all those innovations at once, the first lines of Golden State introduced us to the fictional Herbert White, child killer and necrophiliac: When I hit her on the head, it was good, and then I did it to her a couple of times,— but it was funny,—afterwards, it was as if somebody else did it … Everything flat, without sharpness, richness or line.

Or not. Without justice or logic, without sense, you survived. You betray us is blazoned across each chest. To each eye as they pass: You betray us. Jamuqa pulled a blanket over himself and Temujin.

They lay all night under the same blanket. For either to have expressed desire, to have reached, would have been to offer the object of desire power. It could not be done. Part 1: Find and bring back a poacher fish aka alligator fish , alive. Part 2: Write down stuff that catches our ear and eye. The poacher is distinctive for its armor.

It has bony plates for scales, which makes it resemble an alligator. Adam Summers, associate director of the University of Washington's Friday Harbor Laboratories, who was on the boat, is interested in studying the poacher because its armor developed under three selective pressures. Summers wants to get one, scan it, and figure out how it's doing all that.

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On the boat, Captain Craig Melvin showed us how to not fall overboard and pointed us to the cables that could cut us in half. Then we unmoored, navigating past the kelp forest and into the San Juan Channel. Marine operations manager Meegan Corcoran dropped an otter trawl a long black net equipped with lead weights to the bottom of the sea meters below us a little longer than a football field , scraped the bottom, and pulled up the net.

The first haul contained about 14 shells and a clump of kelp. The net was "flying," which is what happens when the boat moves too fast with too little rope out. He said we'd have to drop the net on the way back and see if we couldn't get a better haul. When we did, we did. The ample findings were dumped onto the boat's metal sorting table. Our crew crowded around the table and sorted through spot prawns, spider crabs, big purple urchins, curly rhino shrimp, slime stars a starfish that extrudes a pink slime that suffocates attackers , and skate.

A guy in a Seahawks hat announced he found a poacher, held it up for all to see, and then threw it in the collection tank. Mission accomplished, we dumped the rest of the catch and headed back to the labs. Students collected and cataloged the new specimens and posted their literary findings to a corkboard in the chow hall for all to see.


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T he Poetry and Science Symposium at Friday Harbor Labs, now in its fourth year and organized by Katie Ogle and Elizabeth Cooperman, is an annual meeting that pairs the seemingly dissimilar animals of science and poetry. Over the course of a quarter at UW, poets study in the marine biology labs, go out on research vessels, and collect and describe specimens used for research. Scientists study creative-writing strategies in poetry workshops. Students poke and prod at sea squirts, metaphors, decorator crabs, sentences, and work toward answering questions that interest them.

In early November, all convene to present the state of their current projects at the symposium, and, of course, to sing sea chanteys.