Welcome back, Dan Krotz, from Books at Sow’s Ear

“The Ubiquitous Pig” is Dan Krotz’s witty and sometimes outrageous newsletter from “The bookstore at  Sow’s Ear. ” Anyone who helps wife Susan name an antiques shop “Sow’s Ear” has to be a wit, and then he compounds the wit (and some degree of nerve)  by adding “And Books.”  So, here’s  news from a very literary Dan Krotz at The Sow’s Ear.   ENJOY!

The Uses of Poetry

By Dan Krotz

When I was 19 years old I went to England. I arrived at Heathrow with $11 American in my pocket and great expectations. Obviously, I needed to find a girlfriend with money. As a recent graduate of the Richard M. Nixon School of Charm I was confident of abilities to do so, yet sadly, both amatory and monetary ambitions went unrealized. Imagine that.

I solved my insolvency in a time honored fashion; I became a beggar. I found a shady spot at Piccadilly Circus and propped a small sign against my upturned hat that said ‘American Poems upon Request.’

“…ere, ow ‘bout that Indian Gitchie Gume? By that whanker, Longfellow?” Ah yes, the whanker Longfellow.

‘By the Shores of Gitchee Gumee

By the Big Sea Shining Waters

Stood the Wigwam of Nokomis

Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis…’

“I like that Benet guy, I do. Whatcha’ got?”

Jesse James was a two-gun man,

(Roll on Missouri!)

Strong-arm Chief of an outlaw clan.

(Roll on Missouri!)

By dinner time I’d made 4 Pounds 10 Shillings and was well on my way to the price of a room. I’d probably still be buskering for pence had not a large hearted girl in a small Mary Quant mini taken pity on me and given me a job playing the tambourine in her jug band. As I recall, it was Frost’s ‘Two Tramps in Mud Time’ that won her heart. PS, I had no idea how to play the tambourine (and still don’t).

Fifty years later I continue to find poetry useful. One of the poems I read often is David Zimmerman’s ‘Nautilus:’

A strong man comes to love

Towards the end of time

And brings with him the power of his age,

Each tender feeling amplified

Through all the chambers of the years,

The ardor of an ancient, well-worn heart.

The usefulness of this poem is that it reminds me that the old person my wife is married to—yes, the one with hair spouting out of unfortunate and misaligned locations—can still remember what it felt like to be 19 years old, and in England.

I also like Ann Carter’s ‘Since I Swore off Romance,’ for obvious reasons:

Since I swore off romance, the full moon’s rise

Is tonight’s big event, a celestial floor show

Where a Mae West moon shoulders out in

Barely decent orange, and then lets those clothes

Drop for the snow-white skin she’s in.
I’ve gotten Ann’s poem a bit wrong (your handwriting is illegible, darlin’), but the idea of Mae West as Moon is absolutely hot and bothered, stunning and right, and I can hardly wait for this October’s late night burlesque.

Every time I check into a hotel, I think of Auden’s very funny book, Academic Graffiti:

John Milton

Never checked into a Hilton


Which was just as well.

About the only thing poetry isn’t useful for is selling. I’ve got yards of the stuff lying around and I’m confident that it will be lying around years from now, a bit like the Unknown Soldier—much honored but, well, unknown. I don’t care. It makes me happy. 
Book Night: The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
4:00 PM to 5:30 PM
Grandview Hotel
April 16th, 2009
The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
Moderated by Eddie Keever and John Turner
6:30 PM to 8:00 PM
Sow’s Ear
April 23rd, 2009

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