My Acquaintance Anselm Dovetonsils, American Poet

Genealogy Political Allegiances Poetic Credentials Notes

But how many readers can claim to really know Anselm Dovetonsils?

OK, obviously as many as want to. But how many can that be?


Anselm was born the second of two sons conceived by Percy Dovetonsils and executed by entertainer Patricia "Happy" Donuts. Since then, he's grown to become the second of three sons.

Although the name is obscure in this era of "comic magazines" and "Rock-and-Roll," Percy Dovetonsils was once the most successful poet in America (probably including Canada and Mexico since I can't recall anyone from those places right off hand), appearing weekly on a popular television variety show and in the New York Review of Self-Promotion and Avenged Slights.

Cultists may quote his brief statement in Tsoukovskie's "Objectivist" issue of Poetry ("Whatever it is I'm against it"), but we old-timers recall with most fondness a nationally televised debate with Dylan Thomas in which Percy took the position that one should go gently into that good night. Long afterwards, he'd repeat the argument: "Sure, I could understand if it was a bad night. But damn it, it's good."

Only a few years later, in a publicity battle precursing the 1980s Cola Wars, Dovetonsils, Louis Untermeyer, and Bennett Cerf responded to the Beats (led by Kerouac, Allen, and Allen) by organizing themselves into the Thumpers. The group produced one anthology, Post-New American Poetry, and one home movie, "That's Not a Flower!", before their various premature deaths.

The elder Dovetonsils was also well known for his allegiance with members of the New-Haven-and-Hartford School of painting. Rumors of an affair with Obscure Depressionist Jerry Simmons have never been confirmed, except by Percy's common-law wife "Happy."

Besides entertaining, "Happy" Dovetonsils-Donuts's interests included arts and crafts and meatloaf. Even today, Anselm often requests meatloaf for dinner.

Political Allegiances

Not only did Anselm inherit Percy's poetic gifts (virtually all of which had been returned by their recipients), but also the paternal bent for group formation and betrayal. Before finally settling into the eclectic mix of the maudlin and the portentous that has made him one of our most consistently younger poets, Anselm supplied a veritable Chinese-astrology-explaining paper placemat of contemporary poetics.

At a precocious age, Dovetonsils advanced Projectivist principles to a new level that he termed "Projectilelist." "It was all a matter of diaphragm control," he explains.

Later cabals included The Invisible Killer Bloodthirsty Panthers and The Jet-Puffed. By the time Dovetonsils attained high school, he'd founded The Defiant Ones, whose first fiery manifesto began, "Here we come walking down the street, getting plenty of stares from everyone we meet. Hey, hey, we're the Defiant Ones!" After Dovetonsils's second manifesto ("R-O-W-D-I-E, That's the Way You Spell Rowdy") was "corrected" behind his back, he resigned from the movement to form The Exclusionists.

In later years, Dovetonsils has been associated with The Pre-Pretentiously-Difficults (since redubbed the Not-Hards), while still extending extensible portions of himself to more experimental chappies, once quipping: "All poetry is Language Poetry, because no one knows how to typeset miaows."

Around shaving time, he and Ethan Hawke (the American Hugh Grant) became the first major cultural icons to join the Brrryl Power movement, overturning the stodgy humorless Men's Movement with a blast of minty fun. Indeed, all who've encountered Dovetonsils's hairstyle have recognized that they were in the presence of true talent. What very few of them could've realized was that the talent was poetry.

Poetic Credentials

  1. Dovetonsils has starred in Stan Brakhage baby films and Richard Kern puberty films.

  2. Dovetonsils received a Good Attendance degree from Naropa Junior Community Institute, an Associate degree from the Iowa Creative by Association Vocational School, and a Bachelor of Impersonation from Brooklyn University, where puffy American poet Alan Ginzburg was his close personal advisor.

  3. Both Viva and Marty Balin have witnessed his diaper changes.

  4. Dovetonsils has been a familiar presence in Tompkins Square Park, the Mission, Benny's Burritos, the Hard Rock Cafe, New College, the Provo Poetry Slam Finals, that "cheeburg-cheeburg-Pepsi-no-Coke" place in Chicago, Europe, and parts of Brooklyn.

  5. Beth and Scott once considered legally adopting him as the third B.

  6. Dovetonsils remains one of the most accomplished and mature skateboarders on the contemporary poetry scene. "For my more health-conscious generation, the Colma BART station and the lower Fillmore hill deliver a bigger kick than the White Horse and Vesuvio combined. Though, of course," he added, "heroin never goes out of fashion."

  7. Which reminds me of his elegaic "i'll give you such a smack: to my siamese-cat-breeding half-sister (sire Dovetonsils out of Faithfull)." This poem's final line, "Why, without my goatee I'd be beautiful!", has been quoted in numerous email messages throughout the East Village.

  8. Dovetonsils was recently invited to spend a three-day weekend at the famous writers' retreat Yadayadayada if he brought his own bottles.

  9. Dovetonsils has worked as a temporary clerical worker, coffee jerk, creative writing teacher, foot messenger, foot massager, bartender, and World-Wide Web designer.

  10. He has published many flirting acquaintances in his journal Smurf, acclaimed by Factsheet Five as "AVAILABLE FOR FIVE DOLLARS OR SWAP!"

  11. He owes me money.


Although every word of the above has been authorized (even if only passively) to appear forever more under my increasingly lucrative byline, I would generously almost like to acknowledge the "research assistance" of Juliet Clark, among many other names that I should mention to make it seem less like she did all the work. And a big shout out to His Majesty the Lord God Almighty, who led me to a store that stocked an ink cartridge for my Hewlett-Packard printer. Love ya, Lord! Hang in there!
Copyright 1998 Ray Davis