Saturday, August 25, 2007

Insert No. 6

In my post on Michael Lally there was a list of the 31 poets included in the anthology, None of the Above, edited by Michael. To my dismay, it was brought to my attention that the list contained only 30 names, and that Simon Schuchat's name had been omitted. Simon was the prodigy of the Mass Transit era. His first book, Svelte was published when he was seventeen, I believe, with an introduction by Lewis MacAdams. His second book, Blue Skies was one of my great favorites among the SOUP publications. The first poem in Blue Skies,
"To Mayakovsky," begins,

You are distant, boss.
Made beautiful by the advantages
of poverty war and injustice.

He had me right there. In fact, he had me with "To Mayakovsky." There were many mini-Ted-Berrigans around back in those days. What separated Simon from them was his audacity, impressive in one so young. Ted Berrigan was audacious, but Simon's audacity was not copied from Ted's, it was all his own. Here is the first of his poems from None of the Above:


Howdy my names Simon

I'm almost twenty years old

I go to the University of Chicago

I take no shit from no one

Whatever that means

I'm trying out something new

When I was fourteen I won a poetry prize

Given by Scholastic Magazine

Honorable Mention Junior Division

I been writing ever since

My favorite poet is John Ashbery

Do you think I write as good as him?

You've got to love that. There was no poem in None of the Above that I liked or admired better. Simon went on to edit a terrific NYC mag, 432 Review, and later worked for the State Department in China and Hong Kong. There 's a poem in Svelte, "adapted from Tu Mu" --

This is by no means the last you'll read about Simon at this weblog. Meanwhile, here's a poem written in 1980 in Shanghai, taken from Jack Kimball's East Village Poetry Online:

The East Village

Staring at your lips so red
In black and white from 1947
A little before dawn -- the
Liberation, day of bright hope
Some children now have never seen
They live the same as their fathers
Families are separated the same
And hunger is ugly to just hear
About it, whether you blame it
On the big noses or bad eggs
And so long as they love their face
Like that their belly will be
A stone

back cover of Blue Skies

1 comment:

Barry said...

UB Poetics discussion group
From: "Dr. Barry S. Alpert"
Subject:Re: poetry and the foreign service

Simon Schuchat, poet, translator, & editor, has worked for the U.S. State Department for many years. As far as I can ascertain, he is currently the Economic/Political Section Chief at the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong. I don’t know how great a conflict this has been for him—to what extent one profession has cancelled out the other. Since he may still be a subscriber to this listserv, it would be intriguing to hear him on the subject. You can get a sense of his literary activity by visiting these two addresses:


(scroll down to the last 3 entries in the Comments section)

A google search on his name will yield further examples of his poems and translations.

Barry Alpert