Wednesday, September 3, 2008

About The Author, All Right, Already

A genre unto itself is the "about the author" page or paragraph that appears on the back of a book, on a dust-jacket, or at the end of a book, among other places. I've had to write such things, or edit ones editors have written about me, and they're awkward and artificial. It's a form of bragging, of course, so there's really no lovely way to write the thing; on the other hand, I suppose a reader or two might want some information about the author.

For a while, in the 1960s and 1970s, it became not just customary but obligatory for poets, in the "about the author" paragraph, to mention what sorts of things they'd done besides writing (or teaching), and the more gritty, the better. So male poets especially mentioned that they had picked fruit for a living, or shipped out on a freighter, or worked as a fry-cook. At some point in the late 1970s, maybe the early 1980s, I remember the poet Philip Levine, who had working-class roots, implicitly mocking such references in an "About the Author" paragraph; he wrote something like, "Philip Levine has held a variety of stupid jobs."

Anyway, a while back, I was playing around with a send-up of the about-the-author pieces, including the ones I've written and read about me.

About the Author, All Right, Already

Wagging the Marsupial is Shillbay Scrum's thirteenth
book of poetry. Scrum is a member of the National
Academy of Poets (NAP) and has been on the receiving end
of a Flugelhorn Grant, a Braunschnoz Prize, and the
Agewart Medal from the American Awardamantine
Foundation. Violet Redbeak, Monopoly Professor
of Literature at Varhard University, has written
of Scrum, "His work amorously massages our eyeballs
and testifies with aching penance to the beauty of
ugliness. His unique, piquant, uncompromising voice
scrapes our nasal passages and reminds us that
we are human, not amphibian." Scrum
is Extinguished Professor of Rarity at Central
Pomp State University, Brine-Wreck-on-Hudson,
where he has never taught. He divides his time
between New York and New York. Scrum's next
book of poems will be his fourteenth.
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