Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dreams We Dream By Day

Been reading again pages 89 - 100, the sensual perceptions of Mali, Fenton, and Uncle: Soliloquy to the spot. Salt, Water, Goa, "Made In Pakistan". And, paper levee, prayer on a strand, blowfish ready to explode "some bath of love", finger in the sky, grave of snow and cup-shaped heart. . . snow tea, turned boat/dog/genital. . . evaporating points "where we both meet"; monastic in seagrass, minstrel as choreography's wide-eyed nurse, canopy of shaven trees, fingers--pencils, coastal Oslo in the hand, Beckett & Gleam' in Fenton's dream, Falstaff and Gogos, and thankfully the entering of Ben Yuzaf. 131 - 140. I wonder, now: are Fenton and Sandy the "dreamers" and Uncle and Mali are daydreamers? And where, then, does this leave Miles (caught between of course? In Miles to go before he sleeps?). A ripple in the pond, part blackened ice and part black water, seemed like a small bird caught there--one wing frozen, one wing flapping--but when I leave the table to look from standing it's nothing but sky & cloud & stiff glinting branch waving high above, in its reflection. This seems to me the sort of thing Uncle would have seen, and Fenton and the others would have learned to--and felt no rush to do otherwise. Yet feeling rush, feeling the second hand from the clock on the kitchen wall unmistakable and caught in his left ear, feeling a slight heave and slug--to the same timing--from the organ that is the essential machine keeping him going, the small bird or several birds--four, say--that now lurch almost puppet-like (but realer, mortal and conscious) from a fluid and muscled nest below a breast pocket. Maybe this is why still photography has no words. Or, until such things are opened. Layers come out. And we taste them, we want to, the individual words together make good soil for the plant of being.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


"She gladly took the hand, rough, sand, silt, adhesion. The eyes sliced through her and she could feel not only her baby but her conception, an act of love gone to ecstasy--high unencumbered thrill and mortallic epiphany that let the two forget who they were and how 'good' they were supposed to be. She screamed, and only then did a passer-by slow--but so they could curse the scene and broil the couple under complaint, and the assignation of the defiled (for now the future mother was seen as compliant in this vagabonded lifestyle--if you could call it life, and we do). The eucalyptus knew this scream, bending and braying, their oils liquid and vapor by turn of combustion, wind almost snapping the thread from the straw, ice breaking down the deep center of a fjord.

To save what's in you is an eternal thing, the snow that makes a deal with the flame, the skin thick enough to hold a place for the soft."

I returned to this section of Che again today, gray day--softness of what seems a stagnant fog occupying the full head of what we know is, under there, rock and mountain. p. 130, Che.

Word travels if you encourage it.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Beach Combing, and Lisa Lisa and the Book Jam

My podcast interview and discussion with Lisa Lisa and the Book Jam is up. The song (Beach Combing) blew me away.

My thanks to them.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Band in the Closet: What You Find (I mean you), Lennon, Muhl, the [Irish] Calvinists, and Autumn (just the season); your "pilot."

So maybe the teakish live heron steady in the fog at pondside has been revealed to be only a reed, wet in autumn. The mystery of its early presence this morning was musical, even in the silence of the window--and in the distance between this table and pond. The appearance of the "Other"--as it seemed--provided pivot, balance, energy and tension I think: Here's your beacon, mooring; here's a set of eyes.

I keep my inexpensive reading glasses in a hard rectangular case labeled "Pilot" now. The glass and wire didn't come with a case, and I no longer know what I've done with the ingeniously designed fountain pen (made to not leak) that I think arrived with heavy protection. So. . . another object: to lose, to pile, to move, to keep. To open. Open--"like a clam shell"--it's almost touching the green of Gregory Maguire's Matchless. . . which I like for its charming drawings but also because the words amount to a sense in myself I have when I read Stuart Little, for example, or any E. B. White. --Speaking of them, in conversation on another ghostly gray and wettish day yesterday, I participated in a lovely podcast with "Lisa Lisa and the Book Jam" (a play, they say, on the 80s band [no doubt I danced to this?]) at which time we talked about books, ranging the decades but sustaining by influence on the imagination, will, and desire. Gaston Bachelard's The Poetics of Space might have mentioned glasses cases in my revised imagined future edition (glasses cases holding other things, particularly). In the same breath: Alberto Manguel's A History of Reading ("[we all read the same stars. . . ]"--more or less) and Lewis Hyde's Gift, offering a circuitous history of surprising gestures of confluence in humanity.

Beside the Maguire book is a scrap with words scrawled: "Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger" (the name of a newly released recording, recorded "in their living-room"). I've just heard their voices--soothing and fit, a wooden boat (they don't insure wooden boats any longer, I'm told) packed with woolen blankets tied around paperback books that never get wet, and peaches--lots of peaches; two pillows for two heads.

This is all appropriate as fatigue hits the election season, the daylight rather shallow now in the minute cup of a wakefulness that squeezes our quest for sunshine, after reading the section I was meant to read in Matt Gross's "Getting lost in Ireland" article. . . in which the emotional tension of journeying is given character, honored as another being, the essential nature of ourselves being we want to connect. . . ; his observation of one trying to insert themselves in a foreign landscape and social setting brought back memories of my own Ireland, my own Egypt, my own India, Australia, New Zealand, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, England, etc. "[P]ersevering in the face of loneliness and [the harsh country]"--unexpectedly, or at least when least expected: the band (Calvinists), the conversation with the lobsterman Ray (the Western [and Eastern, and all others] World is a kinder place because of their phantom animation. Yes, what do we think about the mosque at "ground zero"? To have the ease and candor of this dialog in the non-confrontational human depot of an Irish bar, particularly one around Galway, makes me--again, again--want to celebrate harbor towns that have managed to dismiss pretension; the sea is unforgiving that way, but giving too.

A mosque near ground zero, perhaps, is not so unlike a friendly bar at the edge of harbor close to Galway--or Goa, or Williams Town, or (you find them, they're still there): if we know where the sand comes from, if we respect the spray of salt in all its incarnations, if we've stood outside searching a depth of cosmos for something we hope we'll discover there; universal signs and intimate conversations, stranger to friend, we will find ourselves in the space of a conversation--welcomed, again (or finally), and experiencing the revelation of unexpected joy.

Friday, October 15, 2010

We Are Human, We Yearn For Text

A rainy day and now there’s hope for my piles (no need to be nimble and quick), although there’s no hope for the boxes fit to the floor of barn—a river from the dirt driveway weighing in. The lone maple (almost a pet dog, we have no choice but to greet it every day), a phoenix in a field of pasture-lawn (it’s a new decade—), has undressed half its leaves and leaves the other half—if sliding off a shoulder—a golden blaze of honey: maybe to say, “Last chance before winter. . . (which isn’t true).

The combinations are never easy to separate.

The mountain is a mystery in a thin sheath of misty nightcoat. Water saturates—grass, ground, pond; in such haze, we could be inside the fortieth floor looking out conference room windows in many similar cities, straining to see the street below (no such doing) or (give it up—) to identify the building yesterday had standing across the short vista of a sidewalk. And where windows looked no farther, on such a day of molecular curtains, the gray walls of the traveling universe log-jammed at the height of some lazy top-brained vortex drawing pathos and recognition from a staircase at the summit—remind us that we are human, and that we yearn for text.

I returned to Che. pages 148 – 153.

Friday, September 24, 2010

"Catch Back The Quantity": Our Prose Now, Djuna Barnes' Nightwood, and the Poetic novel

"The tear of wine is still in his cup to catch back the quantity of its bereavement" wrote Djuna Barnes in the Watchman, What of the Night section of Nightwood. That single fragment catches me (to speak of "catch back the quantity". . . ) and the layers of implication in this combination of words astonishes me. I will not go into these layers here. I will offer that, while parts of Nightwood (the Plainfield book sale edition I now have touts Nightwood's successful run at twenty-eight printings [so far]) are not in my normal line of content, the language does tell me a lot about where I know my roots to be.

As some readers will in Che., I have picked through Barnes' text pages at a time. For me, reading is about what's potent there. (The physical object of the original book [small and thick for a side pocket, purple--but with minute splatters of ink] is another thing to behold, aroma and care. . . something that grace gifted age and handling; even that book I have opened sparingly, perhaps a bit like a special garment, with purpose.)

As a side note, it's liberating to identify the still-present typo [page 82, "And why. . . "] in New Directions' twenty-eigth printing (as if the minor technicalities of production don't matter: Let us bring your attention to the content, beneath and inside the word.)

Try giving your ear and tongue to this, by--of all fluidity!--Mr. T.S. Eliot: "One is liable to expect people to see, on their first reading of a book, all that one has come to perceive in the course of a developing intimacy with it. . . What one can do for other readers. . .is to trace the more significant phases of one's own appreciation. . . For it took me, with this book, some time to come to an appreciation of its meaning as a whole." This, remarkably, is from the New Directions introduction to Barnes' Nightwood. He begins to clarify: "In describing Nightwood for the purpose o attracting readers to the English edition, I said that it would 'appeal primarily to readers of poetry.' This is well enough for the brevity of advertisement, but I am glad to take this opportunity to amplify it a little." Here's how the master poet Eliot continues, in prose, about Barnes' "prose":

"I do not want to suggest that the distinction of the book is primarily verbal, and still less that the astonishing language [blogger's aside: perhaps this is where I got the "astonishing"--though it feels apt] covers a vacuity of content. Unless the term 'novel' has become too debased to apply, and if it means a book in which living characters are created and shown in significant relationship, this book is a novel. And I do not mean that Miss Barnes's style is 'poetic prose.' . . . A prose that is altogether alive demands something of the reader that the ordinary novel-reader is not prepared to give. To say that Nightwood will appeal primarily to readers of poetry does not mean that it is not a novel, but that it is so good a novel that only sensibilities trained on poetry can wholly appreciate it." This was thoughtfully composed in 1937.

What happened to the reader between 1937 and, say, now? The reader of popular fiction in 1937 faced many of the same overwhelming choices readers confront (or ignore) now. The reading population since the industrial printing press has been sold and educated on a mass market of theme and type, character and rhythm, text and context, content and form. But here in Nightwood, another century forward, there are voices and perceptions--phrases and words--in the tribe that spark, astonish, echo, repeat. . . and pick for their instruments and tune a vibe that is potent, that is now, that we enliven (even in our pause to accept it) ourselves and each other to the blast of reality or to the sublime of a reverie and insight we have found there. May the goodness continue.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Pushed Buttons: Che as friend or foe; the book is not a wall but a gate.

Have you yet been blinded by a word? There have been times the sight of a name has made me sick. In Dublin, Ireland, it was 1984, as my friends and I could not believe America would accept more and more restrictions (in education, particularly) from President Reagan—a bully leader, we felt, who appeared to have little sympathy for anyone who couldn’t rise from struggles without help (those dying from AIDS, or those raising a family on a welfare check, or students trying to pay for four years of an education themselves). In recent past years it was difficult news whatever followed “W” and “Bush.” There was a human story on the other end of it, someone who was suffering unnecessarily as a direct result of a strident decision—and things were not going to work out so well for them.

What is the good reason why those who would be friends, great friends, attending each other’s births, birthdays, memorials and holiday vacations, consign sides—the dispute over a split hair’s width of supposed idealistic entrenchment—cannot admit a place of mutual sympathy over three letters? If the same letters were found in a Chinese alphabet they’d be uttered in forty different ways, yes? and each way would offer a new meaning. Since when must we destroy curiosity in order to preserve our strict identify, line-drawn-fact-of-opinion, our suffering?

If you’ve ever felt you’ve been on the outside of things—the norm, the popular, raise, place, merit, a culture, economic expectation; if you’ve ever been on the downside of social security affording not meds or your own bed, if you’ve ever identified with the homeless, heard the news of the family place burning down to the ground to nothing—well, then, you know the beat. Our chambers keep a tight muscle. Love and forgiveness begin to express the common language, through any context.

Che, El Che, is an icon and opinions are strongly divided (to understate the unfortunate fact) as to the degrees to which he may have been “terrorist” or “saint” at any measurable point in his living. I invite you to the Wikipedia site, which reflects edited collected scholarship in an array of evidence and assertion ( We find the words attributed to Susan Sontag: Che’s “goal was nothing less than the cause of humanity.” Of course, the family members of any victim of violence could understandably take issue with “[an act of] the cause of humanity” taking the life of their loved one. Yet do we reasonably argue with one who noted the icon’s “inspiration for every human being who ever aspired to freedom”—particularly when the human being saying that was Nelson Mandela? Freedom is difficult for any extreme, but to one who has been oppressed and then imprisoned (a matter of speech, too) there must be at least some sympathy for the links between struggle and liberation.

Text, and any art that won’t destroy a human being in the mortal and ontological sense, is sad paranoia’s gift-elixir and candor’s masterfully ordinary muse. Alberto Manguel’s A History of Reading and Lewis Hyde’s The Gift relieve us of time’s baggage, if we are open to reading the same stars together—one by one, in awe.

So how do we “inflect” ourselves/our breath/these syllables mono or many so that we do not invite reactive rejections of our observations, unique in rhythm and melody, especially in a tide of text that seeks love and forgiveness?

Singer Richard Shindell’s song (using the same three letters that challenged my reader even before a page was turned) describes a man imprisoned longer for, it would seem, carrying in his wallet a photo of his girlfriend who is wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt.

Perhaps it is not the rebel’s violence we celebrate (it cannot be), perhaps we celebrate power to the powerless by voice and by raised fist that declares: We are human beings and we will live humanly, not by force or dictate. Perhaps it is the notion of the underdog against brutal inequity. There are brutalities across class, economies, cultures. Each should be questioned.

My Che. is about observation, texture, sensuality, image, musicality, gesture, invention, evaluation, imagination, dream, people, friendships, renewal, joy, recognition, struggle, fruition. The novella Che. is an invitation to kindle your sensual relationship with a world of your making through language. Where there is a blood stain, we pause. Where there is tide on clear days we become thankful for what tide has brought .

The poetic is never too tightly bound in prose as to prompt wars (and if it does, it becomes something else, something it never was). The poetic encourages matters of loving where there had previously been dispute. The poetic leaves you in a space for astonishment, where love takes place.

Twenty-three years ago I donned a beret, in India. A friend I’d met in Hyannis had worn it in the India national touring company of Jesus Christ Superstar. In Bombay, he thought I should wear it while hanging on to the back of his motorcycle (I suppose to keep us out of trouble [the idea being I might pass for a police officer as we sped along]). Of course my father, a Marine—now in his 80s—introduced the concept of men in hats and uniforms when I was a boy (he became a teacher, and: a Veteran For Peace). Twenty-four years ago I began wearing a beard (before I met Ginsberg, before I ever thought about Che in these terms). And, yes, I own two “Che” t-shirts, neither of which revels in any particular version of the history of El Che, Che Guevara.

Yevgeny Yevhushenko—whom I saw and met at the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater panel and reading last week (I’ve posted video of Yevhushenko reading, in a unique but poetic presentation—made possible only because I could not see the man himself: . . Yevhushenko (interesting that there is hush in the middle of his name. . . ) said, while describing the soccer game between Russian soldiers and German soldiers after the war, “It Is Never Too Late For Forgiveness.”

Don’t you ever build a wall between you and the gifts of words in expression. Nothing is worth that coldness and isolation.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Provincetown Arts Magazine and Che: A Novella

I want to thank Chris Busa and Provincetown Arts magazine for writing about the novella in the "Buzz" section of this year's issue. Busa selects a section of Che's text and describes the novella as "a hybrid of poetry, fiction, and cultural commentary. Some moments offer startling insight into how language itself can expose fresh thoughts." And Che is in extraordinary company: Nick Flynn (The Ticking Is The Bomb [Norton], Another Bullshit Night In Suck City), Sebastian Junger (The Perfect Storm and War), Nicholas Meyer (The Day After and Star Trek II and IV), and Howard Zinn (A People's History of the United States) all appear in the same "Buzz."

Monday, August 23, 2010

Giving The Grammazons Some Love: Clark (& Shea) on the Grammar of Effect and Intent

Waves bringing in the full moon high tides as we approach midnight on this spit of land/sand/island, with the force of Mailer and O'Neill and Hofmann and Motherwell. . . and into this I welcome the Whitmanic joy and defense of language in sense and exuberance: Ammon Shea's description of Roy Peter Clark's The Glamour of Grammar, to celebrate our motives and intuitions (I still find it hard to excuse the use of the hyphen as a dash--for it misses the length of the breath by the minus of it; so, driftwood, be raft more than fragment; rope instead of snip). Here's what we mean:

The visual nature of word-space-punctuation not only contains reference but leaves an impression, suggests--linguistically--allusion, acts--itself and in juxtaposition--as metaphor. . . and as potential. The grammar is as much past as it is present and potential. The Greek/Pound's three-fold reasoning ought to still hold here: Does the structure have a music? Does the structure have a logic? Is there enough about the structure that feels new? And do we guide the reader in making sense as much as the reader must accept a new measure of rhythm and threads of logic that seem found--frayed or whole--in an entirely new land?

Roy Peter Clark writes, according to Ammon, the relaxed "grammar of purpose, a grammar of effect, a grammar of intent. . . [that] gives you a little push and says, 'Go, go, go.'" Ammon Shea: "Clark wholeheartedly endorses breaking the commandments that make no sense, as long as in the breaking the writing itself holds up": in the progress of our evolution we question "rules that have little influence on the making of meaning" (Clark feels).

In other words (or: in words): "encourage. . . more joy."

Go out and voyage, my friends. The language is ready, and sensual.

"Magnifying and applying come I,
Outbidding at the start the old cautious hucksters,"
--Walt Whitman

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Message in the Bottle: Analogy of Tides, Traps, Teasing -- And This Poetic, the flight & song of being (the contexts of text, ontology of word--)

So, in cleaning out a section of my barn—the one mice declared their feed and dumpster—I found, again (one of the loveliest phrases to me: found, again [nearly as winning as found, anew]:—here the comma enters a little sorrow, a vague-knowing surprise, a lot of “epiphany” at the anticipation of one’s next breath), I found again old things that meant so much: The Message in the Bottle, writings by Walker Percy. I say “writings” as much as “thinkings”—and as much, in this way, as the ontological act fused in language . . . or expressing oneself as vital as blood, as necessary as “job,” as central as courage, conviction, personality and sense of self. As essential to the bird as flight or song.

At the same time I found things that meant so much, once, but had to be thrown away—without a thought. There was thought, even contemporarily. Attachment had to be severed.

Some things survive, others go the way of compost—and then survive newly. To sever attachment is what Walker Percy says to me when he urges himself to think of metaphor as a natural happenstance, the coincidence or irony, sleight of hand or “mis-”/understanding of language. What lingers in one ear bears. What got left out by apostrophe indicates—even an absence.

That a record player is called a “seabird” by its users, but was itself a product of the Seeburg manufacturing company, is a matter of sublime translation. That a text “becomes” an animal that will not immediately sit (the cat [who] circles your lap before it curls to rest). The eyes & ears of individuals love and yearn in gears greased with their own oil. Who knew such baby’s breath would become such force of will, declaration—if by innocence or empowerment, authority or audacity. “Misreadings”—Walker Percy thought—offer “the regular experience of that heightened, that excited sense of being which we find in poetry.”

Walker Percy suggests the “prolonged analogy” that Aristotle and Dante were inclined to use, a subtle kind of metaphor over a mixed geography of words instead of what has become a pill of instant cunning. The prolonged analogy is the work of the poem but it is also the work of storytellers, epics, a band’s “lp” recording, dances and imagistic films, the sum and parts of visual works of art, and—partly because their sum is an accumulation of parts: the novel if, at its base and in the force/being of every word, the language unfolds in the innocence of first discovery. . . or anew.

Percy: “the action takes place among the common things of concrete experience and yet yields an analogy”—“by the very thingness of the action” (which brings us back to William Carlos Williams, naturally, and the role of poetry in everyday language).

This considered, “Sentences refer to different worlds.” (1.522, “A Triadic Theory of Meaning” [Walker Percy]).

The message in the bottle is not the comprehension of a statement only, it is—as well—the experience of the entire vessel and passage, the finding, the uncorking, the amazement of ratio of air/moisture amid the fact of its existence, the unfathomable minute by minute journey by tides/traps/teasing, the wet sand as fellow passengers, the sheen of your own reflection in the bow of glass—looking “into” the artifact of assumed words, a creature within an astronautical womb, a context emerging in the imagination. A set of circumstances that constituted a moment in a life—and now another moment, breathing, configuring, a tongue to the mind in a passage of time.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The "story" is in the language. . ./ And we begin in "rain" (noting, now, that important moment in Fahrenheit 451)

I read my novella anew today: "You like the rain?" the book-burner conscript Montag retorts, as if to offer an irrefutably universal dislike to the inquisitive teacher Clarisse in Fahrenheit 451--as if rain, to the annoyance of everything, clearly follows its own course (and therefore to no good. . . ). . . as if liking that which we cannot control would be crazy; --as if giving-in to something whose nature amounts, contributes, and does not at its base reduce or destroy is a form of weakness? Or do we disavow the barriers enforced to contain us? "You like the rain?" he cites as if to seal any argument for liking rain. Yet Clarisse's joyful reply is as loose as rain, "I adore it!" So now Che and this moment come to language in common. (Che begins with rain.) I had not realized it, but this was the fitting note to begin a textual revolution.

If I may, the story is in the language.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Word & Ear: Beckett, Markson, Olson, Louis Armstrong, Calvino, Argueta, Kafka, Cid Corman [by suggestion] & Miss Pond's Oyster. . . ,

There's a lone sentence in the novella Che that speaks from the forest and the tundra in the same moment: "To realize, of course, is to give word." The line is its paragraph's only voice, so to speak (there are also other one line paragraphs in the novella but they are the rarity). I suppose, in this context (one word, one breath; one space of time), I've been thinking about David Markson (his brilliant and lovely, I think, This Is Not A Novel)--and Italo Calvino's Mr. Palomar (a favorite of mine since roughly 1985). With these, I've been re-reading passages of William Empson's opposite-of-critical Seven Types of Ambiguity. Empson "states a case" in the way inventive novels do, in the way most poems do; the way a garden does! When a person pursues his or her own construct(s), a person enacts the daily renewal that would seem to sustain their thinking, engagement, sense in place. I've been editing the next Across Borders journal and I came across this line, in a musician's assessment of Louis Armstrong's writing using Charles Olson's perspective: "verse will only do in which a poet manages to register both the acquisition of his ear and the pressure of his breath" and "of the breathing of the man who writes as well as his listening." This last part interests me the most and refers to something else I had written on this blog ("on" this! --as if this is the deck of a boat, yes?) but which I cannot exactly call to mind without having two computers before me (one can only "jump" back and forth so much in one mode, one mind, one time-frame). So we listen to the hand, the hand remaining, the slate given and to wipe clean.

When we listen to what we read we read it again, instantaneously with slight echo, and we hear the breath of the voice--not only the artifact of the word.

Lately I've been reading passages of the novella "in Irish," in my Irishness, realizing a fluency--or maybe a result of a tendency, aural inclination, propensity--from an influential time in my life. Teaching, to the extent the writer teaches, Beckett brought the joy of the realization of each word (as a lengthy music, in each breath, bearing--) back, entirely. The emotional lyricism, the traveling melody within the smallest units of narrative, the breath-pause--which is the mental-emotional-ontological pause--become fully comprehended only as a listener. The writer is a listener, choosing her or his words sound by sound--and not unlodged from the sound of bay, the solid of mountain base, and yet willingly giving that up for the sake of getting on, to travel in the line or the narrative, to tell the parts of it--in melody and refrain--as a body with eyes and ears and lungs does. This is the kind of text I mean. If text had skin, brain, chemical; it "gives" if we are open to listening for that. Like Kafka's hunger artist below the straw, barely heard and--until then, at the end the whisper confirmed--completely unseen (in fact, thought to be disposable).

While a listener (and reader) at a cello lesson, I found a book I'd not seen or opened before: One Day of Life by Manlio Argueta. What I was able to read there, in the moments of music, were these (and I certainly hear their breath): "The dog is my brother." "A cloud is wrestling with the sun." "Until you appeared. . .you have brought fresh air."

You have to get and bring fresh air. You do it in living, why not do it in reading.

I listen to the lungs of text.

I was stopped in "my tracks" when I read Markson's lone line (among many there), repeating history--without any feeling of being dated: "Please, sir, I want some more."

The words ask a simple request. The writer lived-dying in this simple moment of request, line by line, word by word, syllable by syllable, sound by sound, breath by breath.

In this morning's paper a person writes to complain about children using "frozen trout" for an art project (prints) at a local public library. "In this economy!" the citizen chides. I have to admit to admiring the letter writer's name. It is "Pond." I want to write to her, via the paper, saying, "Dear Miss Pond, The word is your oyster"--(["hoist ear!"]; Why not world and word at the same time? It's possible!); and a painted fish is an opportunity in a child's imagination. This will feed nations, eons, even the embers. And so, we take a breath. Breathe, and listen to what breathed. Make a life of this. Discover text, breathing.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Language as Necessary Spectacle

The new language--like late 20th century/current film and dance--mix-mashes jump-cut, mind-leap (hydrogen jukebox [to quote my teacher, Ginsberg]. . . a reality sandwich [AG]--minute salad, pod speech, hyperlink (that old term!), cosmic display, multi-atmospheric birdsong in real time, hybrid of samples, contxtualized, yes?

We reinterpret the "Stuff As Dreams" (SEE New York Times, Theater [Isherwood], 7/11/10) in spectacles. . . be them waves of rap and warp of sound/image. . . or the book, the novella, the poetic existential trail of making the essential expression of now. Yes?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Teens and Perseverance and Courage: Super Hero Qualities; Humane, Literate--A Kind of Beat Transcended

Today's paper has an article about "What America's Teens Admire Most" (possibly what all teens admire--around the globe--decade to decade): "Perseverance" and "Courage" (plain and simple?). There has to be an age (ages. . . ) wherein we can be idealistic, dreamy and undaunted. Maybe this is why we feel comfortable suspending disbelief while we imagine and accept the qualities and character of the Super Hero. (It's also useful to read between the lines, to observe how the Super Hero was empowered [SEE James Sturm's Unstable Molecules (Marvel)--in which Vapor Girl reads Peyton Place, and the Human Torch is schooled benevolently by a Beat-spouting bonfire poet who speaks Kerouac]). I mean to say there is a humanity that informs such perseverance and courage most of all. There is, too, a literacy in all this extra-exceptional experience.

Bill Morgan's new book (The Typewriter Is Holy), featuring our friend Ginsberg, is given a generous spread in the current issue of Seven Days magazine, under "State of the Arts": "The world actually needs some poets and people like the Beats to come around now, when we're becoming more conservative and scared. . . " (my emphasis). In the Bill Morgan article, I'm grateful Seven Days brings in the new: ". . . a copy of Che.: A Novella In Three Parts, by Peter Money, a former student of Allen Ginsberg. . . While the author doesn't call his work 'neo-Beat'. . . Money's novella, closer to prose poem than narrative, features the kind of continuously flowing imagery that many people associate with the more spontaneous modes of Beat writing."

Thank you, Seven Days. Here's to "independence": to courage, perseverance, and renewal--by text, and [humane, inventive] living.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Che the novella is a small press fiction Best Seller

Readers, I thank you for making Che.: A Novella In Three Parts a fiction Best Seller.
I count Leslie Scalapino and Jane Unrue as especially friendly shelf mates.

We can encourage literary--and herefore cultural--evolution by challenging those we know to read writing that is itself the writer intensely-reading passages of attention anew. (There's a good bit about Borges' writing-as-reading in today's New York Times Book Review I recommend.) I'm grateful to the intrepid readers and writers among us, who bear in it what's human and most lasting.

The page almost quivers (I don't blush saying so) to be film, to be dance, to be love loved and given to. The breathing thing, uplifting, to be part & entire. Summer night. . . and even the bedamned skunk musk is almost perfume. Refuge, hunger, thirst. A drop placed where it belongs. You who are reading it now. . . I thank you.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Jackie Saccoccio: Motherwell, Balcomb Greene, film; and the novella as such. Begin Again, Be New.

I almost passed over them. Page 152, New York magazine, the images within and amalgamation of Jackie Saccoccio's wall to wall 15' painting. What seemed mostly spray, blurred subway car graffiti, became a shape of movement, and then movements themselves, scenes and cultures freeze-framed in their 21st Century. They are somewhat Syriana montage, Balcomb Greene ("Champs de Mars", "Thunder Over the Sea", "Gertrude", "The Island" and Greene's women), or Robert Motherwell's Spanish Elegies. And in the wee spaces: some stilled-breath like Stieglitz saw, Pollock peeled open to the brain for pictures inside, a filmography of confusion, love, war, perfection, imperfection, restlessness, the post-post-post modern eternity; shadow of body, ghost, [K]lansm'n, breast; a city's trance dance at the peak of its inability to turn back.

Here's how New York magazine's Jerry Saltz put it: "located somewhere between a flickering film still, a weather system, and an ammonia-filled primal swamp. Angled sheens of color and foggy white transparencies, echoing dripped latticeworks and vertical pillars of brawny painting, provide structure and organize it architectonically and symphonically, with repeating motiffs, perceivable progressions, and. . . you go figure out the rest."

Guernica, Picasso. This sort of thing. I don't know Saccoccio's work beyond this. But I trust the one interaction, as I would hope a reader would trust a page, a passage, a word.

And I think, after having almost passed it by--returning to find what is found there, what human beings suffer and die from the lack of each day/ decade/ century (you were on to it, William Carlos Williams, doctor that you were--), that these still-blurs are what can center us again, unite us, reveal the common bond--by lust or lack, by devastation or deed, by myth and memory/ memorial. Through our friendships or through false foes: an inkling, inkwell, wellness through it all--finally. Celebration. A wet celebration, surmounting.

Friday, June 25, 2010

D.H. Lawrence, Garrison Keillor, Charles Wright: As Clouds Go By

First there were these words, by D.H. Lawrence (my compadre in general resemblance, I was once told by someone who was hooked on Lawrence): "[W]here the still warm air is full of the scent of pinks, spicy and sweet, and a stack of big red lilies a few yards away. . . ." The "painterliness," the attraction to "the scent of pinks," and the fact of a spring more like summer and summer now full in spring in Vermont presently told me once again Che is part of a lineage.

Then, this (a rare Almanac piece about language itself, and in expressionistic terms): "The world's an untranslatable language/
. . . It's a language of objects/ Our tongues can't master,/ but which we are the ardent subjects of." the speaker in Charles Wright's poem says. "If tree is tree in English,/ and albero in Italian,/ that's as close as we can come/ To divinity, the language that circles the earth/ and which we'll never speak."

The "divinity" of the tongue has always quickened the heartbeat especially in the gift of eyes. I believe we arrive there--"there"--where we make lush anything that will agree in that tension. The textual is made vivid in a sense-world for whom those keys and pads, windows and textures, are a vital drumming: A vitality layered in an accumulating sensuality, be this textuality or painterliness or the long extended nuanced--dance, say; sniff at tides, spray of wave to lips, memory and connection that is instant and sustaining.

I return to Che for this purpose, even as its author. I'd like to share the affinity.

Several years ago one of my poems was aired on Garrison Keillor's "The Writer's Almanac" and, since then as before, I listen to his delivery when I can (in 1994 it was the sound of Billy Collins' poems over a radio on the top floor overlooking San Francisco Bay where I worked, and I thought--at the time--that the man behind the poem, or anyone with a name like "Billy Collins," must be a long since retired Merchant Marine, perhaps no longer with us [I would come to realize we were both little-enough-known poet-teachers in the same system, at the City University of New York; former colleagues, in fact]). Although my office radio mysteriously disappeared after many moments of pause while The Writer's Almanac aired at work over that year, what's found there frequently meets me where I am and provides impetus, springboard, connection with what needs to be done next.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Wolfgang Borchert & Williams' "perpetuum mobile" expressed

I find // in Williams' notion of "perpetuum mobile" by expression & text (and day to day: Ginsberg's the ordinary made extraordinary). . .and today, while reading more Wolfgang Borchert, the expressionism "in perpetuity"--necessarily layered (and whittle down) is the language to which I was always attracted and which evolved. "Sometimes Otherness is just the point where human happiness merges into a human dream" wrote Stephen Spender about Wolfgang Borchert's work ("Is it dream? Is it reality?). It is Borchert's "of sun, of sea and honey" or his--necessarily by contrast--"Horrible, the snow crunches exactly the same, just exactly the same. He lifted his feet up and stalked through the snow like a bird, purely to avoid the crunching." This kind of consciousness, grateful present-past-in-future combined; a celebration, a lament, a meditation. . .amid fear and enlivening. The grateful word, the telling, the loved moment and the moment loved. And here it is "for ever."

I listened to a concert of violin and cello in my field. The mountain turned red--plums & peaches--in the late day, blushing, under a moon, exactly under the one ceiling light of emerging evening, this pyramid & triangulating spun a moment's perpetuity.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hear Che

1). Che: tonight, 6/14 in New Hampshire, 7 pm Walpole NH's library (48 Main; 603-756-9806) [with Alice B. Fogel & Kate Gleason]
2). In September, with Gary Lenhart (also a friend of Ginsberg!), at the Norwich Bookstore, VT.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Moths, The Waves: Woolf, Olsen, Winterson

So I'm back at the gallery in Lebanon, looking at Henrieke I. Strecker's tiny rendering of "a wave" last night (two weeks prior to bringing my poetry class)--also taking in Michaela D'Angelo's almost overpowering canvases (and the allure & affinity of her titles: "and they continued", "the sheltering", "and they all went to heaven in a little row boat", "everything is as it should be, nothing will ever change, nobody will ever die" [a counter balance to a kind of broadside I've kept from the 80s by John Giorno], a bundle of flowers ["detritus"] slathered into a glob of concrete pigment of itself resting inside the blue paint on top of the canvas); . . . in the gallery, also, are my friend Rachel's radiant and--in the overlap of slap-on-shape & dayglo peeking--defiant new prints. I'm there and starting to post on Twitter ( affinities from Strecker's artist's statement--and this morning I realize the //s 'tween it and what Winterson wrote in Art [Objects]. And now I'm planning my evening course, in World Lit., and I crack open Tillie Olsen's Silences and arrive, basically, exactly where Winterson had me, cloth in hand, pen a beat away: p.159-- quoting from Woolf's diary, "slowly ideas began trickling in. . . the Moths, which I think I will write very quickly. . . . the play-poem idea; the idea of some continuous stream, not of solely human thought, but of the ship, the night etc. all flowing together: intersected by the arrival of the bright moths"; later: "I shape a page or two; and make myself stop"--where there is the "ripe pear; pendant, gravid, asking to be cut or it will fall; and "I write nonsense. . . variations. . . possibilities; . . . Then I trust to some inspiration on re-reading. . . I press to my centre" and "I begin to see what I had in my mind. . . One wave after another."

Survive, you, survive, text, sur vive, be done--and do these more,

Monday, May 24, 2010

from Ecstasy And Energy: Winterson on Poetry & Prose

In case you needed the reminder, "Reading is sexy." (p. 192, Art [Objects], by Jeanette Winterson, *1996*);. . . insert enlivening, to be sublime, sentient, mortal.

(Every generation, no?): "For an experimenter these are hard times"; "We are insecure and cynical and this makes us hostile to experiment." --Yet [here's goodness]: "Must poetry be on one side and prose on the other? Not historically, not necessarily. . .part of the interest in . . . Modernism [is] an interest in. . . flexibility of form" (190). "Of course prose handles mundane matter so much more graciously than poetry can" (190)

"What I do know is that it is desirable now to break down the assumed barriers between poetry and prose. . . .What else does Shakespeare do in his plays?" (191 ).

"It is for a new generation that I write" writes Winterson. Always the new, it must be, always the new: even for tired old eyes; there's another breath, isn't there? Another wag, cup of something, --interest. We warm to the fact.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Amazon review: Fascinating & Beautiful; . . . & I'm grateful.

Five Stars, here's an excerpt from the first Amazon review: "Fascinating and beautiful book written thoughout with intensity. . . not like a French prose poem. . . but with the effect of poetry. . . I was enthralled from beginning to end."

I like to think Che is more sustained than the French prose poems I've admired.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Reader's Potentials: Well-known translator's take on Che.

A friend & translator writes, "still, and again, engrossed in the masterfulness of 'Che' language. It is a rare thing in prose
these days that a writer does not write 'to the reader' but to the art of creating something that makes a reader re-visit his own potentials."

Of course I'm grateful for what's said there.

Re-reading the epigraphs to section three, Acolyte, this morning I realized, again, just how important those are to the text--and revealing in the order and way in which they amount. I hope they are "permission" and "affinity" both, and more. I read them as a kind of Greek Chorus, preluding each section of Che.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Hadestown benefit for Harbor Mountain Press: Blew Minds to Venus, Honey.

Stunned and amazed in front of Anais Mitchell's--and Michael Chorney's, Geza Carr, Nelson Caldwell & Polly Vanderputten [double frig' cellos!!], Rob Morse, Adam Moss and Andrew Moroz's--spot-lit amped and nuanced acoustical performance of their thumpin' rag-time jazzy rock musical, with impeccable drawn-in woodsy campfire storytelling execution & cunning acts of redemption, sultry-felt enlivening, in their folk opera, Hadestown, Saturday at Town Hall Theater in Woodstock, VT. Every note, every knee wiggle & wag, drum lean & upright bass sag in the shadow of rim of stage light, each sound fired from a myth that's part of everyone. Somehow this has a lot to do with _Che._, I feel it skin to skin, sure as sun dries what yesterday's showers left--this springing. Damn, May's fine. . . .

P.S. Thanks BTC Bend Oregon!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Left Bank reading & reviews, comments & my "clarification"

Recent readers compare the experience to Marilynne Robinson and William Gass. (I went out and got a book by Robinson to see.)

Let me just say: the "double hyphen dash" and the regular solid strike dash are used in my text with reason. Pacing and utterance have to do with it.

And regarding epigraphs: the choices and the placement/phrasing/crediting are every bit as important to the text as the text. What allows the text and what supports the text is universal, but it is all personal. Flux and form: equal parts important. Otherwise we wouldn't be here.

See you at Manchester and The Mountain on Friday.

Thanks to all who bought the book at Southern New Hampshire University and Left Bank Books Saturday & Tuesday.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

April Events

I'll be at Left Bank Books, Hanover NH, Tuesday April 20th w/ Andrea Cohen, 7:30
Then: April 17 11am SNHU for NHWP festival and
April 23 & 24 at VT's Manchester Literary Fest.
On the 27th I host for the Norwich Bookstore at NPL.
Come on by!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The "Green" Che.

I'm calling it "my Green Che"--not only because the cover is green [green fountain pen, green beret, green tint covering] but because, in a word, the book is about renewal: textually, emotionally, intellectually, politically, economically (oh yes, the gift economy. . . ; liberates the combo Green Money, yes?). Our own revolutions must be Green now, yes? Characters Mali and Fenton and Uncle, especially, go about what they do in this daily context, travelers of "the beyond" that they are. May our evolutions enliven. Be Green As Possible, friend to friend, eh Che?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

unsung literary heroes

I've been sorting books in my office in preparation for a talk. The best things come to me this way, often. Here are four more books that surprised me, rock me, and in one way or another captivate me. Not one of them is well known; even Hugh Kenner's was found in a pile of remainders at The St. Mark's bookstore (many years ago), far under-priced: _We bark at Midnight_, by Van Lane Ferguson (Tuttle, Rutland VT and Tokyo Japan); _Daughters Of Memory_, by Peter Najarian (City Miner, Berkeley); _A Homemade World_, by Hugh Kenner (Marion Boyars, London); and _Red_, by Melanie Braverman (Perugia, Florence Massachusetts). I see Melanie Braverman on the flats in Provincetown every other summer or so. It is a wonder that such writing of simplicity and torque comes from, also, the quiet of standing--or submerged in--the few remaining inches of tide, ebbing or oncoming, in gentle conversation. This is the seed that floats from India to Ireland, from Italy to Haiti. We are made more of what we become by drift.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

John Ashbery novel?

Oh, I meant to say: one editor told me "This is the kind of novel John Ashbery would write if Ashbery wrote a [new] novel."
John's a grand-daddy to us all (and, as it happens, my first real impulse teaser as a poet). Many years ago I moved to study with him (it didn't happen; Allen Ginsberg was there in his place--which was fortunate also). . .. I had sent a telegram to Ashbery from New Zealand to tell him about my intention.: "Traveling world/STOP/Moving to Brooklyn/STOP/Need to know your teaching/STOP" (that's how they did it then). So. . .Ashbery fans. . . . Heck, hello?

If/THEN. . .Vampire Weekend--maybe Che.: a novella in three parts. Friend,

IF Vampire Weekend, Ali Farka Toure. . .then maybe you'd like the tone & undercurrent of CHE too.
A friend turned me on to VW only last night & I'm floating there in the sound, a bay & birds made of lyrics
thatch a nest in mind's matter, a comfort dog that takes you out on a walk, the great kiss slip off,
a cosmos' sort of whirl, out of a box into a world or worlds--; geography the sky loves.
The list could be long (what we like, and---) but you know the feeling's specific--; & you're "home."

Each season in a cup. From fetal to dance, from fetal to dance.
This is an invitation, friend. "Put it on your lips. Crack a smile." Dance.

Send me a postcard and I'll send you one in return. Bring your copy of CHE around the world, send me your photograph
(of you and the badboy in green covers wherever you may be) with permission to create a book of friends with it.
I'll do something special for the person with the best photo.
CHE THE NOVELLA po bx c/o Peter Money Brownsville VT 05037
Tell a friend. Adventurous readers encouraged to apply. See you, Che. TRAVEL!

Friday, February 12, 2010

IF, THEN ___ ___ ____

IF YOU LIKE Alain de Botton On Love, Marie Darrieussecq Undercurrents, John Berger, David Malouf An Imaginary Life, Alessandro Baricco Silk, Carole Maso The Art Lover, David Markson This Is Not A Novel, Elias Khoury The Journey of Little Gandhi, Melanie Braverman, Lydia Davis, Jane Unrue, Margaret Atwood The Tent, Yannick Murphy Stories In Another Language, John Banville The Sea, H.D. The Gift, Wolfgang Borchert The Man Outside, William Carlos Williams Kora THEN,
Do yourself a favor and check out CHE. Pass the Word.

Nearly available, as of this posting.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Readers Respond To Che

Link directly to the publisher's book page, complete with readers' comments, by visiting the Chethenovella PROFILE to your right and entering "My Web Page". Or, paste the address above into your browser to read what others have said about Che, and to find how to buy the novella. The interview link with Peter Money is below; paste, or search "Peter Money interview" in Google.