When I was in a graduate class on writing the long poem, I decided to challenge myself. I would think of the worst possible sounding idea for a long poem. I came up with the Donner Party. I wrote about 5 pages. I kind of like it.
I've since discovered about 3 book length long poems about the Donner Party and my goal is to read each one. So far I've got my hot little man-hands on one copy:
Keithley, George. The Donner Party. New York: George Braziller, 1972.
So far I've only read the first page or so and I despise it with a deep and loving, laugh out loud, oh my god I was so right this is the worst idea ever hatred.
I've decided to risk life and limb to bring you the first stanza of this book, this marvel of mid-century writing, which since it is but a tiny portion of the poem, perhaps the copyright gods will permit me to post here:
"I am George Donner a dirt farmer
who left the snowy fields
around Springfield, Illinois
in the fullness of my life"
That's all you get--that's all I will risk for you! If you want the rest (it is sort of delicious, this first page) you can get your own copy or maybe if you offer me $5 I will sell you mine. Shipping included.
I've tried to pawn off actually reading it on someone else, but no one I know will take up the gauntlet. 254 pages of Donner Party poetry just doesn't seem to interest anyone. Friends of the Library, here I come. That was some of the best 4$ I ever spent.
Because I also bought an Amazon bargain book, American Primitive by Mary Oliver. That makes this ok. yes!!! I was going to give you guys the link, but I think I bought the only 5$ copy. I don't know if this link to a search will work, but if it does, enjoy your 5$-ish poetry books. Love, Me.
What makes the whole Donner Party poem thing interesting to me is the rejection I just got from Anti-, which goes something like this: we like the concept/concept but the lyrical bit just didn't do it for us. If you've got something similar, send it along.
They liked that it was about the Donner Party, is what I think that means! But obviously my poem didn't pull it off, and with this hefty, gray, funky-smelling volume in front of me that I can't bring myself to read, do I feel implicated. (But my line is longer! Come on!) So when I laugh at this monstrosity, maybe I laugh at my own. Oh Blackbird, publish my long cannibal poem. Please?