Thursday, August 23, 2012
Long time away, my friends, looking the poetic in the eye and sifting a dust bowl through my hands. A long year blogging internally, going to Cuba (incredible--out-breath, insight), getting Nostalgia, My Enemy ready with Sinan Antoon and Jeff Shotts, thinking about Dublin & Doolin more than I have since 1984, wrestling with my drone-speak--a personal revelation for what the page can do/how far to push or fuse language between poetry and prose (and speech, rhetoric, news, tweet) and how to effectively acknowledge what Ginsberg described to me as "mind jumps" (which seem to happen more and more as we fade from single focus into a multitude of minute activity and convenient distractions [within the political mouth, the economic swirl and let-go, too]). I have been in the arms of J.M. Coetzee, with Diary of A Bad Year, in which the relief is epic and personal at the same time; the question of how rangingly language functions brought two hemispheres together in a lightning storm, in the peace of night, a stilled bay and blinking green light (the lighthouse at the point), as I was holding Coetzee's year in mine (I make an annual pilgrimage to "the end of the earth"--the shore). Here's a list of other books that occupied me this season: Mary Ruefle's Memling's Veil, Sonia Sanchez's Wounded in the House of a Friend, Octavio Paz's On Poets And Others, Frank O'Hara's Jackson Pollock (his "scholarly" book for Braziller--yet a poet's), Norton's 1938 Rilke translations ("The Song of ______"), The Boston Museum of Fine Art's 1957 William Blake pamphlet (amazing), Firebird by Mark Doty, Poets Teaching Poets (Orr & Voigt), Rafael Campo's The Healing Art, and Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony. Amid these I also visited Provincetown Arts (an annual pilgrimage in itself). Musically, I've been interested in the "arias" of Florence and the Machine. For me these verge on epic (and I don't make light of the word) anthems for isolated groups and individuals. I think about the Russian church in which Pussy Riot made their art an act of holy pleading in the expression of sentient flesh, and I see Florence and the Machine filling this sort of space in pleading and then in assertion and affirmation also. By the sea I also listened to Democracy Now!, which in recent years has been harder for me to hear or watch--as a matter of timing. There is a poet from Mexico who is speaking out about the self-hate going on within that culture. Why so much violence? and does my mentor's stance on drug culture have anything to do with the "loose-ness" that has shaped a capital enterprise in keeping a public down? profit the enemy of culture? Ginsberg's "loose-ness" had to do with openness, open mind, and bonds between us. Perhaps the violence comes from a separation of "class"; so does reality t.v. and celebrity interest stretch our wants from our needs? I did not see much conflict in Cuba, by the way. There, maybe "class" aspires to be all "middle"; here, we are losing equity in the middle class (shouldn't we all be "middle class"? all moderate in exploits and reasonably comfortable?); is it from greed and exclusion/power-holding that "quantity of means" and "optimizing of security" are enough to move people into a culture of disregard for others and violence? Allan Kozinn's article in The New York Times (8/12/12) about his own John Cage 4'33" experience on the A Train felt like Florence and the Machine and J.M. Coetzee sanctuary and humanity harmony at once. I mean a flood of openness, candor ending paranoia (as Ginsberg would say), aired musically in the surprising voices of other human beings--supposed strangers--offered a universality at once equally individual. On the next page was "Strange Sounds" by Steve Smith about Pauline Oliveros' career: Deep Listening, "a method...which was don't talk about it, sit down and play, listen back." Colm Toibin's review of the new profile on silence, exile and cunning (Joyce, of course) factors too. Decades and careers; qualitative survival and personal bests; a contribution and eventual who-knows (a life and a living). I am listening back. And playing.