Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cigarette lighter or squid?

The epigraph of Paul Muldoon's translation of Baudelaire's "Albatross" is from this BBC story:
Nearly two million Laysan albatrosses live [in the Midway Islands] and researchers have come to the staggering conclusion that every single one contains some quantity of plastic. [...] He explained how some chicks never develop the strength to fly off the islands to search for food because their stomachs are filled with plastic. [...] Many albatrosses are found to have swallowed disposable cigarette lighters - which look remarkably similar to their staple food of squid. 
I can't see the resemblance myself, but it is exactly the sort of association that belongs in a Paul Muldoon poem. I've skimmed through the new volume, Maggot; it offers the usual pleasures, but there are perhaps too many stunt poems, e.g., sonnet sequences that exhaust all possible rhymes for a word. (I guess I was also expecting more maggots!) Nevertheless, if you like reading about someone "malformed in his formaldehyde" this is very much the kind of book you should read; the sequence on "The Humors of Hakone" in particular is very good. One of the best poems in the new volume, "Love poem with pig," is here; "Quail" is available here and used to be on Muldoon's website for a long time.

(Needless to say I'd welcome any insight into why/which cigarette lighters look remarkably like squid.)

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