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Gabriel Gudding

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Gabriel Gudding

Gabriel Gudding

Writing about poetry is very difficult, but here’s where I do a thing where I try: Gabriel Gudding is a poet who lives in Normal, Illinois, where he is an assistant professor of English (go fig!) at Illinois State University.  Gudding’s poetry is the kind of often surreal and incidentally raunchy stream of consciousness that reads like the rants of a particularly eloquent crazy homeless man— the well-read and witty kind that probably doesn’t actually exist but nevertheless pops up constantly in like Dickens and such.  So think of him as that brilliant Vietnam Vet you’re always sorta hoping to meet on the sidewalk.

I was introduced to Gudding by a professor I admired in college, and while there is no wikipedia page on Gudding (what? the middle school I went to has a wikipedia page), I’ve somehow acquired a few anecdotes about the poet: that he taught creative writing to inmates at a prison near Ithaca, NY (Five Points Correctional I think- From a google maps review: “Not a nice place to visitLeigh- Aug 2, 2007: I’ve a friend incarcerated in Five Points and from what I understand it is a particularly unpleasant place to spend time.”  I’m not shitting you somebody took the time to note this on google maps), that he got his masters from Cornell, that he grew up in Minnesota.

And he’s really funny, or at least his poetry is.  But what’s occurring to me as I write these blog posts is, who wants to take your word on these things?  You wouldn’t watch a movie without checking out the trailer, would you?  Here’s a sample of his work, from the title poem in his collection, A Defense of Poetry:

1. The lake trout is not a furious
animal, for which I apologize
that you have the mental
capacity of the Anchovy.
2. Yes the greatest of your sister’s
facial pimples did outweigh the
3. I was eating Vulture Beast
Cream, I was eating Lippy
Dung Cord, and I said “Your
ugly dog is very ugly,” for he is.

Gudding is the author of the excellent A Defense of Poetry and the slightly spotty if not lacking for good intentions Rhode Island Notebook, a slapdash sort of “here, publish all this” project conceived and executed exclusively on the road over many trips between Illinois and the titular state.  That’s good too, though.

“And What, Friends, is Called a Road?”, the quite solid intro to Rhode Island Notebook.

The rest of that poem I started for you, which is really the Must Read of this post.

On Kindness and Hipness and how They Relate to Cultural Production,” a very cool essay Gudding wrote.


Written by Peter Kelly

October 1, 2008 at 12:17 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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