Mentioning the Tigerlily poems in the last posts got me thinking about them, both as long, narrative poems, and as Southern poems. I remember that Karen and Grace both liked them, as well as a few others in that class, but I haven’t read them in years. But I dug around and found the one that Karen was especially fond of, “Tigerlily Agnew Beaumont Recalls Her Coming-Out.” That one, “TAB Spends Another Day in Bed with Convenient Vapors,” and “TAB’s Rejected Valedictory Address,” were always my favorites.
Rereading them, I have to laugh at my own hilarity and slyness. They are funny–and terrible–poems. Well, dramatic monlogues, really. Tigerlily says despicable things, impugning people’s honor and heritage, nicely calling them whores or worse, but she says them with such aplomb and with such a charming Southern-lady attitude, you can’t help enjoying how she gets away with it. I suppose all this sounds vain and self-glorifying–I don’t mean to. But re-reading them is like finding an old friend and picking up just where you left off–I can’t help thinking that had I gone to Catholic high school with her in the 1950’s, I would have been one of the people she would have disliked, but I would have secretly been pleased at all the mean things she said about other the other girls.
Unfortunately, these poems were never a favorite with the editors I sent them to, and I eventually gave up hoping ever to publish them. For one thing, they are unwieldy long–2 and sometimes 3 pages. Not at all journal-friendly, where they’d probably be 4-5 pages long, and no journal is going to give up that kind of space to one poem. For another, dramatic monologues went out with Browning (or maybe Donald Davidson). They are simply not done.
In some ways, you might think these poems would work as short-shorts, and I’ve taken out the line breaks and sent them out as fiction, but they don’t seem to work that way either. (Maybe she needs her own novel. But I wouldn’t know how to write one.) So, as much as I believed that Tigerlily needed to be shared with the world so that everyone could adore her (you could say, she’s my Valentine to the Southern Poetry world), she’s been hanging around in a folder on my computer. Until today, that is.
I’ve heard about an anthology looking for persona poems and DM’s, so I’m going to send a few. I don’t have a lot of hope that she will find a home there, but I thought I’d try. Wish me (and Tigerlily!) luck!
And, if any of you are remotely interested in reading one of those poems, drop me a line, and I’ll e-mail one to you. I’d post one here on my blog, but I wouldn’t want anyone to say “tldr.” (And for some of you old fogeys who don’t know what that stands for, it means “too long, didn’t read.”)
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.