November 27, 2022

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"Biography of Elvis" by Claire Nashar [Introduced by Thomas Moody]

3 min read

It is well known that Elvis never toured internationally because his Dutch-born manager, “Colonel” Tom Parker, believed that if he (Parker) ever left the United States, he would never leave the world, and Australia was no exception, where a healthy fascination with the king is still very strong. Every year for Elvis’ birthday around 30,000 Australian Elvis impersonators come to the small rural town of Parkes for the Parkes Elvis Festival. In its 28th year, the festival will host over 200 events over five days.


The Elvis Festival in Parkes


Unfortunately, not all Australians’ passion for Elvis translates into such happy events. After enduring as long as possible and fearing the worst, I recently saw Australian director Baz Luhrmann’s biopic of Elvis, for which I feel it my patriotic duty to apologize.

"Biography of Elvis" by Claire Nashar [Introduced by Thomas Moody]

Claire Naschar

As an olive branch, I offer The Biography of Elvis by Claire Nashar, a Sydney-born poet who is completing her Ph.D. at the University of Buffalo and has two volumes of poetry to her name: Lake (2016) and Handmade (2015). Nashar’s poem adds sometimes absurd and fantastic, often intimate and mundane details (all hearsay) to the bloated legend of Elvis. To me, these speculations, no louder than murmurs, seem far more worthy inclusions in Elvis’ story than Mr. Lurhmann’s over-the-top theatrics.


Biography of Elvis

(after Mark Leidner)

It is said that Elvis can shoot a tire from twelve meters away.

They say it was because he was missing a tiny bone

in each of his wrists.

They say that as he sweated the inside of his clothes

were gilded, and if they were gilded, they were

like rainbows or supernovae.

It is said that Elvis had a knack for birds.

They say this explains the mob of ornithologists who tried

to kill him in Georgia.

They say so once after watching a group of Grays fly

Elvis predicted the rise and fall of the Spice Girls with pigeons.

They say if you hear Blue Suede Shoes backwards, that’s it

what it says.

It is said that as a child Elvis often saw the spirit of a dog

who had been shot in the head.

It is said that when he was older he drank Dom Peringon just like that

Forget it.

They say he once lived in Alaska in a spare log cabin with a

potbelly oven and watched movies about pilgrims

the television sets he collected will be to the people

Home with presidents and game show hosts.

It is said that he once visited Sydney, Australia, but I am not sure

I believe that.

They say that Elvis never lied.

They say that he married for love.

They say that when his heart broke for the first time, he invented a dance move

so sad it would break everyone else’s heart forever but it did

He was so scared that he died without ever showing anyone.

They say Elvis was born a lion, but that’s the end of it

it didn’t matter.

They say if he was born an insect he would be

would have made a great bumblebee.

They say if Elvis was born a fruiting tree

he would have been a Santa Rosa plum.

They say if Elvis had never been born at all Michael Jackson

should have invented him from plasticine

and chux cloths and to breathe the breath of life

into his tiny open mouth.

All in all, they say that Elvis was a very sad man at times.

They say that after Michael Jackson brought him to life

Elvis cried and cried and cried.

They say he hasn’t moved much to this day

long time.

They say he had a twin brother who died in childbirth

in a cabin in Mississippi, above

the biographers tend to agree.

That’s what they always say when he’s checked out of a hotel

He would write a warm letter to the cleaners of this hotel

message on the special hotel stationery and sign it

with a swipe of the special hotel pin that follows

he would sometimes, but always absent-mindedly,

put in his pocket.


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