Paul Schmidt by April Bernard

Part of the Editor's Choice series.

BOMB 57 Fall 1996
Issue 57 057  Fall 1996
Paul Schmidt

Paul Schmidt. Courtesy of the author.

Wonderful as it is to have two books by Paul Schmidt—poet, playwright, translator, actor, teacher—appearing at the same time, it is also a bit confusing. Night Life and Winter Solstice, both published by Painted Leaf Press, are such radically different volumes. The poems in Night Life have been gathered from years of writing: startling autobiography appears side by side with some brilliant and cheeky translations from Catullus; here is a lyric, there is a lesson; intimacies and cosmographies wind about one another. There are some extraordinary, valuable poems here, including “Night Watch,” “The Operation,” “Holy Picture,” and the sequence called “Austin City Limits.”

Winter Solstice is, by contrast, a series of prose poems from one intensive writing bout brought on, in the writer’s words, when, “after several all-night vigils with Robert Mapplethorpe, I was visited by beings in white masks.” It is a hallucinatory, raunchy, deeply disturbed, and disturbing midnight of the soul, a rant of the late 20th century that transports writer and reader alike into the prayerful attitude of a medieval saint in his cell.

—April Bernard

Auto-Tune by Ben Lerner
Con Auto Gens by Laura Elrick

Around certain clusters of the dead, almost magnetically, a vortex of opacity gathers in the record. 

Three Poems by Rosmarie Waldrop

One must think of, but finally, I had to agree, not walk around naked, not in body or spirit. Not write about, when what is a word, at the risk of disconnection, no longer ask. What it would take. Acknowledge the dark, though with dreams in color and. If still possible. Moist skin against the page.

Four Poems by Mary Jo Bang

In any narrative, facts are present or not. One might assume the more facts, the better the constructed history, since facts are meant to reflect what can’t be computed by storytelling alone, which is said to be subjective and therefore inaccurate.

Originally published in

BOMB 57, Fall 1996

Featuring interviews with Jasper Johns, Tobias Wolff, Laurie Simmons, Sapphire, Scott Elliott, Brenda Blethyn, Craig Lucas, Suzannah Lessard & Honor Moore, Peter Dreher, and Richard Einhorn.

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Issue 57 057  Fall 1996