Sunday, September 04, 2005

received 2 publications in the mail whilst away: the Winter 2005 issue of Black Spring (Steve Tills, editor), and Rouge State by Rodney Koeneke (Pavement Saw 2003). I've only scanned BS. a piece by Robert Grenier about Kenneth Irby looks especially interesting. Grenier's criticism has a boiled intensity that I appreciate. such writing is not speech meaning that one must read warily from word to word, rather than ride the wave (hoping I've mixed metaphors properly there). my memory of Grenier in the classroom was of someone who did speak, but more that he asked a lot of questions. even his statements were questioning. his criticism gives you a hard thing to grasp. his approach is to bring the internal out. I find this very useful. this issue centres on the poetry scene of Lawrence KS, which even in my ignorance I can see has some sort of collaborative unity. I look forward to delving this issue. it is available from:

Theenk Books
P.O. Box 184
Shortsville, NY 14548

Koeneke's book is an exciting find. I've already underlined a number of passages. check out the 1st lines in the book:

Impurity's the watch-word here; you get that the minute
you step off the boat. A few hours paddling the lake that forms
the liquid circumference of the conference center
and it's high time to skim from the Captain's indiscretions
more saucy affairs of your own.

does that sound rather newsworthy apt? despite publication date. I'll say that my best reaction to 9/11 was written 4 days before the event, replete with images of airplanes crashing into buildings. somehow, it happens. but I don't mean to go off on poetry's predictionable qualities, or timeliness (ugh!). I would posit the valence derived from a respect of language, something like that. but anyway. I am taken by Rodney's use of 1st person plural in many of these poems. not to weight either of us with comparison but I appreciate that inclusive address. not so much that the 'we' means me (and you) the reader, but that there's some teamwork acknowledged, writer and reader. if I have an aim, and I am rarely so bald as to express it like that, it is to sway thusly with intimacy. that words are serious connections, however throttled and confused. I read an implied narrative in many of these poems, not so much disjointed but specialized. Rodney hits a sort of bebop bounce of crazy man images, which could be tiresome if there were no narrative strand (or strain, as I almost typed). oom boom. and there are so many great, funny, slipped from somewhere lines: "To feel magnificent in Underoos"; "in the teen night scratchy with stars"; "here where our frou-frou tights make camouflage"; "Staying distinctive in the Department of Beautiful People / is not that complex a process: / just tweeze your kestrels really hard / and blow". and so forth. an ear for pop culture and classic resonates with great conviction, not just noise. I mean by that that Rodney accepts the weighted values as they come, culture being culture whether pop or not. Rodney has also published a book that is described as history: Empire of the Mind: I.A. Richard and Basic English in China, 1929-1979. I don't know from that whatsoever (okay, I know Richards is a lit crit), but it sounds intersting, and also suggests an interest range that isn't just poetry. so that's cool. if it's not obvious, these are my initial off the top impressions.
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