aphorists

Elisa Gabbert

Describe yourself as a poet in three words: Sultry and profound. Just kidding. I’ll go with: cerebral, wry,aphoristic. But it’s terrible when artists describe their own art.

What is your chief misery as a poet? Ha, like, what about being a poet makes me most miserable? Not sure if I’m supposed to focus in or out for this one. Boring, overlong poetry readings. Figuring out where to send my work. Getting rejected from POETRY. Nothing about the writing process itself, really; I used to hate ordering manuscripts, but I’ve gotten a lot more deft with that.

What you appreciate the most in a poem: A profound idea. Which can sometimes be disguised in an image, a trick of language, etc.

If not a poet, what would you be? I am already other things by necessity. If we’re talking pure fantasy time, I’d want to be a “working actress,” a singer-songwriter, or a more famous poet.

Who is your poetry hero and why? I don’t like the word “hero” because it sounds like blind adoration; I prefer to merely admire people as they are then less likely to disappoint you. Even that changes, but I’ll admire forever Alice Fulton for inventing a punctuation mark (the double equal or bride sign, ==).

What is your idea of happiness? Food, drink, and conversation with people I’m fond of and who are fond of me.

What is your present state of mind? Pleasantly scattered.

Your favorite poem, ever:  “Depression Before Spring” by Wallace Stevens:

Read Elisa’s poems “From L’Heure Bleue” at PEN America.

Coveting Book Covers

We’ve all been told that old aphoristic saying to never judge a book by its cover. Yet that is all we can do when faced with the beautiful medley of editions found at BOOK/SHOP. Book cover designs are oh so important in tempting you into the ivory pages within, and our reading-list just quadrupled thanks to these vintage copies. Here’s just a few of our personal favourites, including ‘The Drawings of Roy Lichtenstein’ (above). 

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I found myself last night telling the story of a former self. One with a different gait, different voice, different breath. I’ve learned to laugh about him – this shadow of what I thought a man should be in a set of awkward poses. We’re born naked, and the rest is drag. It is funny to think of my middle and high school years as one extended drag performance. A parody of my best friend’s masculinity – Mr. Quarterback, the big beef and brawn on campus. And perhaps it was envy and a little desire, too. This man I loved like a brother but also hated for the ease with which he waltzed through life. The arrogance of his aphoristic way of speaking. Everything was a soundbite of wisdom, a trait he inherited from his father, the self-proclaimed history teacher who taught the Civil War as the “War of Attrition.” I shook his hand again after many years at the wedding a few weeks ago. The same force of grip but perhaps softened with a compassion only blood and death on the operating table could bring. We have gone our separate distances but even that can be shortened with a clink of two glasses. A drink to each of our health’s and to the days when we once drank beneath the stars on a summer night. But most of all, a drink to the fact that the next time we meet, we will again be different.

jamescurryiv to amadeuswolfe

[ 54 ] hello its me james curry iv. your writing is interesting i am interested by your writing. it seems aphoristic, or maybe sloganistic… isn’t that weird that aphorisms and slogans can be so similar in structure yet so divergent in purpose? what would you be would you rather be a prophet or a salesman

Another profession that has wormed its way into the speculations that accompany my burgeoning pre-midlife vocational identity crisis is that of lawyer. For the lawyer, to be known to oneself and others is beside the point. What matters is to know the law and possess the skill of manipulating it to serve one’s own ends. Or, indeed, anyone’s ends. The lawyer can truly help others, just as he can wreak utter havoc on their lives. In this way he has power. His thirst for power is the most obvious sign that he is depressed, unfulfilled. Power is the ultimate consolation of the unloved and despairing. Contempt is the ultimate consolation of the powerless, i.e. me. This is the meaning of Rich Homie Quan’s “Type of Way.” Rich Homie Quan was more effortlessly aphoristic than I can ever hope to be.
—  Shit from an old e-notebook