Thursday, July 29, 2010

Our Masterpiece, a poem by David Ignatow.

Post 533 - David Ignatow (1914 – 1997) was born in Brooklyn and spent most of his life in the New York City area. He tried for years to be a businessman, a career for which he was not suited. He wrote poems during this time, and much that he observed with a photographer’s eye of everyday life in the business world is incorporated in his writing. He was president of the Poetry Society of America from 1980 to 1984 and poet-in-residence at the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association in 1987. Mr. Ignatow's many honors include a Bollingen Prize, two Guggenheim fellowships, the John Steinbeck Award, and a National Institute of Arts and Letters award "for a lifetime of creative effort." He received the Shelley Memorial Award (1966), the Frost Medal (1992), and the William Carlos Williams Award (1997) of the Poetry Society of America.

When asked how he felt about money, he once commented, "Well, I’m not a Buddha in the sense of I can sit under a tree for a thousand years. Who can? The climate doesn’t allow for it, anyway. So we need money. We need money for houses and for comforts. To relax."

Our Masterpiece by David Ignatow.

You can stick a sign For Sale
on the biggest part of America, the people.
Nobody will complain, only there isn't a customer
wealthy enough for us, and so we sell in small
to each other.

America, America on the dotted line,
and if we think we live purely on emotion,
go into any restaurant and see who flashes the
and who counts the change,
and who leaves embarrassed by his small tip.

I don't care what any man feels outside of business.
It plays as small a part as a bass fiddle
in a symphony. Blowhard trombone and French horn
are the money-makers,
and over all is the conductor, the idea of money
pulling the song out of us, our masterpiece.

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