Poetry Corner: James Tate

Great Man

Humor in America

Tracy Wuster

As a poor-quality young poet,  my verses were overwrought, melodramatic, and a bit odd.  Then I discovered James Tate, and I decided that if I was to be a poet, then an odd humor would be my game.  Years of teenaged notebooks were filled with poems cribbed from Tate–aping his tone, style, and playful surrealism.  Then I discovered that I didn’t want to be a poet.  I’d leave that to my older brother.

After a few short films that might have been influenced by Tate, I ended up in grad school studying humor.  No poetry, per se, in my research, but I like to go back to Tate once in awhile to rediscover some of that absurd magic that shaped–and might continue to shape–my experience of language.

With our poetry editor away for a few months, I decided to step in with a couple of my favorite…

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