Not a final draft.

Edward Lacie (edwa318@webtv.net)


There are five poems by Greg Baysans that owe a lot to the experimental Cubist poems of Blaise Cendrars. Cendrars' writings coincide with the early Cubist works of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, acquaintances of his in Paris, 1914.

"Derniére Heure" is an experimental poem transcribed from a newspaper (the "Midi") account of a prison escape in Texas. Other than a title, the poet has injected little to nothing into this account.

As translated by Edward Lucie-Smith:

Stop Press: Blaise Cendrars

Oklahoma, 20th January, 1914

Three convicts possessed themselves of revolvers

Killed their warder and seized the keys of the prison

Burst out of their cells and killed four guards in the courtyard

Then they seized the prison's young stenographer

And getting into a vehicle which was waiting at the gate

Departed at high speed

While the guards fired their revolvers at the fugitives


Some guards leaped on horseback and went in pursuit of the fugitives

Shots were exchanged on both sides

The girl was wounded by a shot from one of the guards


A bullet killed the horse which was drawing the vehicle

The guards were able to come up

They found the convicts dead their bodies riddled with bullets

Mr Thomas former Congressman who was visiting the prison

Congratulated the girl


Telegram-poem taken from Paris-Midi, January 1914


Five poems of Baysans which borrow heavily from this technique are "A Real Education", "Louder than Words" (despite it being a classic Italian sonnet with very strict rhyme scheme), "Twitch", "One Hundred" and "2003, White Sale".

Five poems by Baysans which also borrow from news stories but are very much laced with a political agenda or slant are "Uncle Sam Tamarin" (which concerns the Beltway Snipers), "Aboard the Kursk", "To CBS", "In Which We Serve" and "My Neighbors".

"A Real Education" is the most obvious and acknowledging of the poems to use newspaper accounts. The authors and stories are cited at the end of this 500-plus line epic. The topics of the news stories are critical to the metaphor presented in the poem: a certain technical/business "college" ("BCTI") is juxtaposed with 19th Century shang-haiing, one of the newspaper reports being quoted. Enron and Congress eventually join the ever-enlarging circle of corruption depicted by the poem.

"One Hundred", despite the personal angle contrasted to the news story presented, is also in the vein of presenting a "lifted" text as the poem itself. Taken from an MSNBC report of a pederast military officer who was transferred a few times before being charged with offenses, the poem calls into question the use of taxpayer dollars.

"2003, White Sale" has a sarcastic last phrase that's an obvious inclusion by the author but is otherwise pretty much a borrowing from a newspaper opinion article by David Sorenson.

"Twitch" bounces a few international news items off each other, using enjambment to conclude that an imprisoned Chinese AIDS activist has been lobotomized.

The reason why "Aboard the Kursk", despite the news-story aspect of the subject, is not a poem in the vein of the Cendrars poem is because "Aboard the Kursk" is written as a first person account of a sailor aboard the doomed vessel.

"Uncle Sam Tamrin" relates the biography of the older of the two DC-area snipers of 2002 in a sympathetic light that is not the same as a news story.

"My Neighbors" is also so obvious in its politics that it is more like a nursery rhyme than an objective account. "To CBS" lightly takes on the subjects of pornography and advertising, but is too personal (and humorous) to associate with the news story poems.

"In Which We Serve" borrows its subject - priests and sexuality - from the newspaper, but is nothing like a newspaper account. The poem depicts a consensual relationship in which the priest is not known by his partner to be a priest.

What are the characteristics of a journalistic poem as opposed to a slanted, non-objective poem?

"Just the facts, ma'am."

-Edward Lacie, 3/7/03