America's Top Poets To Offer Diffusion Lines


A Fashionable Lady, Sir Nathaniel Dance-Holland

by Daniel Bosch

Stylish, Yet Accessible

Responding to Concern That Lines Be “Wearable”

April 1, 2014 (New York)

Three of America’s most famous poets announced today the immediate availability of new, moderately priced “diffusion lines” based on their celebrated high-end works to be sold online and at mainstream retail outlets such as Walmart, Costco, Sam’s, Target, and Barnes & Noble.  Representatives of K2 by Kay Ryan, Frederick by Frederick Seidel, and JohnT by John Ashbery (for Target) announced the move at a joint news conference on the sidewalk outside of Century 21 in lower Manhattan.

In recent years diffusion lines from haute couture designers such as Marc by Marc Jacobs and D & G by Dolce and Gabbana have transformed the fashion world, bringing hot trends and sophisticated tastes to previously untapped markets in return for an infusion of cash, as consumers have snapped up big name merchandise that may be lower in quality but is sold at a correspondingly lower price.  Publishers and industry experts hope diffusion lines from poets as famous as Ryan, Seidel and Ashbery may provide the long-sought bridge to a thriving commercial market for poetry by living authors.

According to a spokesperson, K2 by Kay Ryan, named for the second-highest mountain in the world, will offer “poems for the woman who aspires,” in “lines that fit every body.” K2 by Kay Ryan verse lines will be longer than those in the poet’s signature style, which has featured corsetted rhyme schemes and model-thin silhouettes that barely leave the left-hand margin. Ryan’s diffusion lines will be “cut for comfort,” yet still “feel skinny,” with considerable sonic density up front and much care taken to avoid any embarrassing emphasis on assonance. Of the poet’s penchant for snap-shut closures, her spokesperson remarked, “Readers will still be able to hear that a K2 by Kay Ryan poem is finished, but this new line will appeal to a more open-ended sensibility.”

Frederick Seidel himself spoke on behalf of his new diffusion line, touting Frederick by Frederick Seidel as “wearable lines that bring venom in denim.” Seidel explained that poems in the initial Frederick by Frederick Seidel collection will feature shorter lengths for spring and a few scantier numbers for Fire Island and the Hamptons.  Allusions and phrases in French and Latin will be sparse. But Seidel insisted that Frederick by Frederick Seidel is “all about the fabric,” and that his diffusion line will convey the Uptown, Ivy-inflected sensibility he made famous in his path-breaking use of deep but invisible pockets, as in the swatch below:

In Radcliffe Yard, when double-breasted
Coeds hitched plaid skirts for crab-infested
Offensive lineman, I was offended.
Go, Crimson, Go!
How does a goal-line stand if knees are bended?
The gun sounds but the Game has never ended.

All proceeds from Frederick by Frederick Seidel will be directed to Frederick Seidel.

A Target spokesperson introduced JohnT by John Ashbery (for Target) as the first-ever collaboration of a leading poet with a major retailer. Critics are enthused by early-release samples of John T by John Ashbery (for Target), and several have proclaimed that the work is indistinguishable from Ashbery’s high-end poems as seen in Poetry, The New Yorker, and other ritzy venues. John T by John Ashbery (for Target) displays will be placed in the Pharmacy waiting rooms in all Target stores (except in Canada), where Target hopes it can keep the aging readership of the avant-garde poet in store just a few minutes longer. “If they pick up one or two pieces from the line on their way to grab Ensure,” said the Target spokesperson, “we’ll be delighted.” The giant retail chain is celebrating the new line by broadcasting a jaunty passage from JohnT by John Ashbery (for Target), read by the poet, to shoppers over in-store public address systems and on a special wireless channel.  The passage is available for sampling at JohnTbyJohnAshbery(for Target).com:

Good day, Target shoppers!  It’s nothing personal
that the pattern on the China in aisle 9
portends the disaster of tomorrow’s
oatmeal.  Is your life salty enough?
Not mine.  On the flats at Bonneville
Mach 4 was made on a rocket sled
controlled by a thumbpad and the blur-fast thumbs
of a little Dutch boy who gets it.  Bye bye!

About the Author:

Daniel Bosch’s poems, translations, essays, and reviews appear widely. His collection Crucible was published by Other Press in 2002. He lives in Chicago.