Loren Goodman

24Mar06

I’ve been meaning to write about Loren for some time now, ever since we first met in Kobe about six months ago for drinks and local specialties at K’s Place with Loren’s friend Taka. Loren, who I came into contact with through my grandfather, had been living in Kobe for the last six years where he was finishing up his dissertation on Japanese amateur boxing at Kobe University. Loren, who at one time was also a karate instructor, is an immediately likable guy and I’ve met several people through him including Hiromi, who lives in Kurashiki, and Takagaki-san, the wedding planner.

Sadly, I met Loren just as he was preparing to return to the States, so we didn’t get a chance to hang out much while he was here. However, we’ve kept in touch, and he’s been able to make it out for one visit since then. On his last visit we met in Kobe for some absolutely delicious Thai food. Hiromi was there, as well as Loren’s friends Terrance and Ed, who I hadn’t met before. Terrance, it turns out, is not only totally into Voigtlanders (right on!) but also runs a regular podcast out of Kobe called, appropriately enough, Kobe Beef.

Of course, the reason that Loren and I met in the first place is that Loren is also a poet. Loren is the winner of the 2003 Yale Younger Poets award and author of Famous Americans, a book that is heartful, witty, sly, and somehow manages to take on a constitutive American voice that lets the bricolage mythmaking of the American subconscious speak itself into new, and more revealing, dreamscapes. The root material here, however, is history, and there are attendant roadside mailboxes out of which Loren pulls classic moments of American phraseology and gives it a new freedom in language.

One of my favorite poems of his, however, is a short poem which at first might read as simply a joke on Yeats that comes at the expense of a typographical error. By the end of the poem, however, you realize that it’s not a joke — yeast is a poet too, in all senses.

YEAST

I am Yeast, a great poet
I live in Ireland
Some say I am the greatest
Poet ever

My poetry makes bread grow
All over Ireland and the world
In glens and valleys, bread rising
In huts, clover paths, and fire wood

There will always be critics
Who deny Yeast
But you can see
The effect of my poetry
Through the potato fields
And the swell of the Liffey.
The amber coins and foaming black ale

Visit again soon Loren!

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