Vouched Visitors: “Poem” by Rachel Zucker

4 May

Visiting us this month at Vouched is Adam Robinson, editor of Publishing Genius Press and author of Adam Robison and Other Poems and Say, Poem.

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Here’s the poem I think I’ve read more than any other poem on the Internet. It’s by Rachel Zucker, and it’s called, “Poem” and it was in her book Museum of Accidents which came out from Wave in 2009. Read it, it only takes a breezy 3 minutes.

I don’t love it because it features a “who’s who” cast of cool poets, though that works nicely, or even for Matt Rohrer’s smart advice — “the next time you feel yourself going dark / in a poem, just don’t, and see what happens.” I have a predilection against poems that reference “poetry, writing of” because poems are for everybody, not just poets. But of course “Poem” is about what is happiness, and about we ain’t got it, and it does it with a light touch. Also it’s about motherhood — something I care for not a whit — I’m embarrassed by it! — but I feel like the poem is exceptionally well dressed and looking at me. The perfectly pitched, conversational tone! The turn at the end! The jokes! My favorite line is when she’s in Deborah Landau’s office — “and Deborah said, “Mark, I’ve got / Rachel Zucker here, she’s happy, // I’ll have to call you back.”

Even the sorrowful ending acknowledges more happiness than it should.

I don’t think I like the idea that we shouldn’t acknowledge how miserable life can be just because we are US Americans, and this poem doesn’t, but it is still aware of the problem of complaining.

And last night I was at an open mic reading that went on for 45 minutes. I loved it. Why are they so bad? The worse the poem — the more it drifts toward the dark — the more I like it. But I don’t really like it. I’m not moved by it — I just think, right on, way to go, no one gets me either. But I also wonder, like, how hard can it be to write a good, resonant, dark poem? Zucker’s “Poem” (such a relevant title) makes it seem not only easy, but like there is no other way to do it.

2 Responses to “Vouched Visitors: “Poem” by Rachel Zucker”

  1. Tyler Gobble May 6, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

    I’ve never read this poem before, but I have now and thank you Adam Robinson for that.

    Why don’t we talk about happiness more?

    This poem is fabulous, for all that stuff Adam says. Exceptional control and understanding of story to get beyond writing about poetry/poets and such (and even use those things as beautiful mechanisms for this discussion of happiness). HOW GREAT


  1. To Keep Or Not To Keep The Last Phrase In This Poem? « Poems That Dance - May 6, 2012

    […] Vouched Visitors: “Poem” by Rachel Zucker (vouchedbooks.com) […]

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