Monday, July 7, 2008

I Will Not Commit to a Machine

Tom Disch - a long-time Poetry magazine contributor - committed suicide on July 4th, a loss to the worlds of poetry and science fiction. Albert Goldbarth tells Poetry assistant editor, Fred Sasaki, that Disch called him on the 4th, the day he committed suicide, and left a message that said, “This is a message for Albert Goldbarth. This is Tom Disch and I will not commit to a machine.”




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"N.B.: adoring me is not a crime,
it's your God-given right! So have yourself
the same kind of fun other believers do
by making a public nuisance of yourself
and pissing off all the officious old farts
you know. Insist that your First Amendment rights
be respected. And save Saturday night for Me!"

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So that's why I say of all writers there are,
The best of the lot was Bob Service by far,
And all of you eggheads up there on Parnassus,
Should do jest like he did and get up off yer asses.

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Invitation to the Walt

Now he's safely dead it's possible
for even the most uptight among us
to respond to the invitation he extends:
Come, lads, let's have ourselves some fun.
A drag race! Or we could ski! Or go
to sea and feel the wind behind us.
Fill your lungs to their capacity and then
let loose that air in a song like some huge
pipe organ. Now say with me, I love you,
Walt, and when I see you in the mirror
I just can't help it, I go ape.

3 comments:

Michael Robbins said...

Don, I hadn't heard about this; thank you for noting it. It's a crime how little notice it's received - Ken Tucker, of all people, has a short appreciation in Entertainment Weekly, of all places, but he ends it by speculating that Disch's failure to achieve "mainstream credit" is at least partly to blame. I hope that's not true. Disch's heart was not as dry as summer dust, & I for one will miss his wit & verve.

Don Share said...

Michael, I'm not sure if I buy the "failure to achieve 'mainstream credit'" argument - look how many times he was in Poetry magazine and all the big-name places, and his last book was published by the wonderful Anvil Press in the UK. On the other hand it's true that he didn't get the mainstream attention of the book reviewing "good reads" types, and didn't cultivate a user-friendly persona. His work as a poet was taken for granted, to be sure, and his voice will be missed. Anybody reading this: read the poems... better late than the proverbial never. I myself wish I had come to his work earlier.

Michael Robbins said...

I'm sure you've seen this, but I thought I'd post it for others: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/08/books/08disch.html?ref=books