Friday, July 5, 2013

#92: Two Poems by Todd McCarty

~This poem was previously published in 580 Split: A Journal of Arts and Letters (2006).

Nancy Series, 1972

Nancy—so girl. So girl & more girl than most.
In color or black & white. Beyond charm,
Beyond ashtray or postage stamp.

Nancy—so Nancy you are. On paper,
A sexy blond. In an afro.
An afro you seem unsure of.
And not blond.

As an old Kleenex, you are Nancy.
Nancy Santo Nino de Praga.
As a ball or boy or Bright’s Disease,
Nancy of Nancy. The Nancy you are.

All of these you are, in yellow & green
Or Andre Breton at eighteen months.

Nancy—so girl.
Well hung & framed.


~This poem was previously published in 580 Split: A Journal of Arts and Letters (2006).

Untitled, 1970

This is how you are:
intricate layers piled
on top of one another.

Weeds and wild grass.
Tiny yellow flowers.

There you are.
Your hands.

This is you.



I'd been living in Boulder, CO for many years and more than a handful of local poets and writers had known or owned art works by Joe Brainard. I'd read snipets of "I Remember" and The Bolinas Journal, but didn't know much about him otherwise except the stories that Bobbie Louise Hawkins would tell about him. He seemed like this wonderfully gentle figure that was hidden in Ted Berrigan's shadow--or so it seemed to me at the time.
            The first major retrospective of his work was mounted in 2001, and the poet and visual artist Michael Smoler worked tirelessly to bring it to Boulder's Museum of Contemporary Art. It ran from June through September, and on free Saturday's I would go down there and smile at all his work. There's a gentleness and incredible sense of humor in his pieces that's so rare in the art world today.
            The last Saturday before the show closed the galleries were crammed with writers all day dying to get one last look. I just strolled around with my notebook cranked up on too much coffee, chatted with other poets, and wrote poems that dialoged with his work. Out of approximately a dozen poems, these two, along with a few others that I wrote, are the ones I feel capture the spirit of his visual work the best. They're also an homage to the guileless style he had in his writings.
            Thank goodness they published an excellent catalog of his art for the retrospective, including many pieces of his writing. Through the work of many of his friends, there are now excellent books showcasing is visual work and his writing.

For more information about Joe Brainard and images of his work:



Todd McCarty has worked previously as an Assistant Editor for the journal Court Green, for Naropa's Audio Archive Project, and at KGNU Radio in Boulder, CO. He was the interviewer for the poetry program End Quote, where he recorded poets like Anne Waldman, Robin Blaser, Joanne Kyger, Sonia Sanchez, and many others. He also collaborated with Jered Ebenreck on the radio art project called Subliminal Guild that interrogated poetry, politics and American culture during the Bush administration's War on Terror.
            His poetry and book reviews have appeared in DIAGRAM Columbia Poetry Review, RHINO, Court Green, Verse Daily, and Gently Read Literature. He is the recipient of a 2013 Individual Artist Grant from the Illinois Arts Council and a will be a visiting fellow at the Vermont Studio Center in spring of 2013. His first chapbook, Fall for You, was published by Blue Press Books in late 2012.

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