ModPo & Experimental Poetry
A Brief History of Unwinnings
As graphomania has nothing to do with cacography
and everything to do with opened gates of a barrage,
I don’t give a damn about what’s only seen on the surface.
But as is often the case, I know almost nothing of the world’s ways
of winning the unwinnable against adversities in all seasons.
I know nothing about a glib-tongued hoaxer’s art of lacrimation
but I know a lot about a copycat’s fears of non-achievement
and a faint-hearted bonesetter’s unsorted anxieties
and a lubber’s unmanning task of rowing for days
an unmotorized raft made of plantain trunks
when our rivers get swollen up with more water
coming through opened gates of the noose-like Farakka Barrage.
Can this sort of knowing about unwinnings be a boast?
Oftentimes I think of myself as a lonely skinny calf floating
with the flood tide by a hayrack in a raised lived-in cowshed;
maybe I’d have my self-diffusive absorbability this way.
A polar bear thrives on the polar continent and I on unsuccess.
And with ice-floes thawing faster than our expectations
and with experts lecturing on it with their gesticulating hands,
I hope to float as a pointed gourd on such disasters
or what if I sink like an unread message in a cracked bottle.
All my plans were never unstilted, all my dreams always saccharous.
I’m wondering who’d have felt good if my pseudo-romantic
unwinnings had ever been carved on a wooden plank.
Sofiul Azam has three poetry collections. His most recent is Safe under Water (2014) and edited Short Stories of Selim Morshed (2009). His poems are published in Prairie Schooner, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Journal, Orbis, The Cannon’s Mouth, Postcolonial Text, etc. and anthologized in Journeys, Caught in the Net, Poets Against War, Poetry for Charity Volume 2. He is now working on Earth and Windows: New and Selected Poems. He teaches English at Victoria University of Bangladesh.
Better than Starbucks began wholly as a creation in my mind. Now the wonderful collaboration of four dedicated editors is creating a monthly magazine that I could have only dreamed about when I was starting out as a one person organization.
Having said that, there are no direct connections between U Penn, Al Filreis, KWH (Kelly Writers House), ModPo (Modern & Contemporary American Poetry), or any of the actual affiliated programs to ModPo and this magazine, other than I have been a part of ModPo for several years now. There is, however, a strong spiritual and intellectual connection between BTS and ModPo.
If I had not gotten involved in the larger community of ModPo, I don't think I would have restarted a literary publication. I am certain I would not have added a Formal & Rhyming Page, and probably not a Translations page. I have a pretty narrow preference for poetry, but the course and the people at ModPo have expanded my view of poetry to the point that I decided if I could find good people to help me do it, we would make BTS as broad of a source of styles and genres as possible. We have been fortunate to establish a team of talented editors and are in the process of an ever expanding quest to find poetry wherever it may be.
Thus, it seems fitting that we dedicate a page to my fellow students at ModPo, and/or anyone who wants to share experimental poems. The thing about experiments is, they often fail, but as the point is to learn, not to create perfection, even failed experiments in the lab or on this page, will offer something for us, if we will find it. and when the experiment doesn't fail... well, you will see! - Anthony Watkins
Dennis Andrew S. Aguinaldo works at the Department of Humanities of the University of the Philippines Los Baños.