"The Big Dogs" a possible poem by Mark Strand?
June 21, 2021 9:43 PM   Subscribe

from 1993-96 I lived in Portland, Oregon, attending graduate school at PSU. During that period poet Mark Strand did a reading at some small venue downtown. During that reading he read something playful that may or may not have been his work, that had lines that were sort of like: Let us run with the big dogs Let us let the big dogs off the porch

I think it was some sort of a nod to the first Iraq War, and "the dogs of war"
I could have any or all of these details wrong, but can anyone find this poem or anything close to it? It may have been someone besides Mark Strand, but I'm pretty sure it was a poet laureate. I'm pretty sure it was also a reference to Wallace Arnold, "You can run with the big dogs/or sit on the porch and bark"
posted by mecran01 to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
He may have been referring to those shirts made by Big Dogs Clothing that were popular in the U.S. at the time. The most common one I remember said “If you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch!” Popular with older white dudes who felt they were being subversive by yelling about stuff.
posted by corey flood at 9:56 PM on June 21, 2021

Best answer: Mark Strand, [big] dogs, '90s: "Great Dog Poem No. 2" appeared in The New Yorker, January 15, 1996 P. 53; alt. link to text at poemhunter.

James F. Nicosia's Reading Mark Strand: His Collected Works, Career, and the Poetics of the Privative, Notes section: [...] as “Great Dog Poem No. 1,” the lines read in more celebratory fashion: “the music of dogs / Fills up the air”. In fact, the original poem contains many vital alterations:

Before the tremendous dogs are unleashed,
Let’s get the little ones inside, let’s drag

The big bones onto the lawn and clean the Royal Dog Hotel.
You lied when you said the world was secretly glad

This would happen, that the end of the century
Called for no less. Even now, the music of dogs

Fills up the air. And look at that man on all fours
Dancing under the moon’s dumbfounded gaze,

And look at that woman doing the same. The wave
Of the future has gotten to them, and they have responded

With all they have, O heavenly bodies that sway in the dark.
O bodies of time unfolding. O golden bodies of lasting fire.

The poem "Five Dogs" is in Strand's 1998 book, "Blizzard of One." Excerpt.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:14 PM on June 21, 2021 [11 favorites]

Response by poster: @Iris Gambol: I think we were listening to an even earlier variation that eventually became the poems you referenced, thank you.
posted by mecran01 at 4:23 AM on June 22, 2021

Response by poster: Of course, Blizzard of One is, in part, about impermanence, which is so fitting as I try to recall a poem that is gone forever

“Will the same day ever come back, and with it Our amazement at having been in it, or will only a dark haze Spread at the back of the mind, erasing events, one after The other, so brief they may have been lost to begin with?”
― Mark Strand, Blizzard of One
posted by mecran01 at 4:36 AM on June 22, 2021 [4 favorites]

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