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New Poem by David Lehman

Eyewear is very pleased, and more than a little delighted, to feature a new poem this Friday by David Lehman (pictured on the right with Charles Simic), one of America's major figures in the poetry world - as third wave New York School poet, anthologist, teacher, scholar, critic, and impresario.


David Lehman was born in New York City in 1948. He graduated from Columbia University and attended Cambridge University in England as a Kellett Fellow. He also received a Ph.D. in English from Columbia University.


He is the author of several collections of poems, including When a Woman Loves a Man (Scribner, 2005), Jim and Dave Defeat the Masked Man (with James Cummins, Soft Skull Press, 2005), The Evening Sun (2002),The Daily Mirror: A Journal in Poetry(2000), Valentine Place (1996), Operation Memory (1990), and An Alternative to Speech (1986).


His books of criticism include The Last Avant-Garde: The Making of the New York School of Poets (Doubleday, 1998), which was named a "Book to Remember 1999" by the New York Public Library; The Big Question (1995); The Line Forms Here (1992); and Signs of the Times: Deconstruction and the Fall of Paul de Man (1991). His study of detective novels, The Perfect Murder (1989), was nominated for an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America.  He is series editor of The Best American Poetry, which he initiated in 1988, and is general editor of the University of Michigan Press's Poets on Poetry Series.


Lehman has also edited such books as Ecstatic Occasions, Expedient Forms: 65 Leading Contemporary Poets Select and Comment on Their Poems (1987; expanded, 1996), James Merrill, Essays in Criticism (with Charles Berger, 1983), and Beyond Amazement: New Essays on John Ashbery (1980). Most recently, Lehman edited The Oxford Book of American Poetry (Oxford University Press, 2006). He is on the core faculty of the graduate writing programs at the New School and New York University.

His dedication to poetry and letters is remarkable.  He's one of my heroes, so it's a great treat to offer this poem to you today.



Bailout Package

They paid the farmer not to farm.
They paid the surgeon to do no harm.
They paid the parishioner not to pray.
They paid the piano player not to play

They paid the doctor not to heal.
They paid the thief not to steal.
They paid the writer not to write.
They paid the soldier not to fight.

They paid the cops to bear no arms,
The arsonist, to set off no alarms.
They paid the photographer not to shoot
Or lick the officer’s shiny black boot.

They paid the poet to eat no peaches.
They paid the professor to make no speeches.
They paid the lawyer not to lie.
They paid the widow not to die.

poem by David Lehman (March 2009)
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