Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Jordan Davis and I think someone else recently mentioned Memoir 1960-1963 by Tony Towle (Faux Press 2001), and I've read it! in fact, will bring it to New Jersey for another go. I love memoirs, journals, letters. in a lot of ways, I can prefer such to the fabrications of 'real' art. art is largely hopeful in the sense of the artist having this hope that the artistic glimpse can be tranferred to the work. which it does varyingly. whereas ephermera such as letters and journals work outside such hope. they are more 'direct'.a lot, most, works of art fail. not as process, but in the way the idea gets lost in implementation. I mean, when you're thinking what work of Zukofsky to put in (and leave out) of a Selected, some works make it, some don't. which is not to say everything isn't of interest (Ron Silliman's theortetical quest to cut Z down to size aims at those readers who aren't prepared to take the whole trip. personally, I wouldn't bother). intentions are different between Keats' odes and his letters, I don't mean to blur. his letters can't fail in the way Ode to Indolence fails compared to Nightingale or Grecian Urn. well, as Henry Adams' wife said of H James, I've probably chewed more than I chawed off. in Towle's Memoir, one notes a receiver of anecdotes. or he's a dreamer recounting these strange and wonderful, or just plain ordinary, events. blest that the folks around him are interesting, are in fact O'Hara, Koch et al. I know I am unexciting but I regard this blog as open to that possibility of memoir/journal, of that fleck of something that just occurs, here and in this moment. process. there's a poetics there to be mined, I guess. I wish there were more Memoir to be had.
once again will be away from the blog for a week or so, helping Beth's mother move. while internet access may be possible, I don't mind just saying the heck with it. I'm not up to speed re what we need regarding poetry reviews (good ones would be nice, but zackly what does that mean?), so I'll come back with blurry picture, and that will do for 'content' here. I have a bio on Joseph Smith I feel strong on reading, and a history of the Mormon church. I don't figure there'll be a lot of time for such while we're away.
a billboard on the highway in Nevada proudly adverted that Battle Mountain, Nevada was voted the armpit of the country in a poll by the Washington Post. my vote would've gone to a town in central Idaho, I can't recall the name of. passing thru a few times I got the impression that economic turns have been consistently downward. plus it was dry, dusty, hopeless. even so, a fresh running river ran thru, and the mountains gawked above.
Monday, June 13, 2005
I can't keep up with the Jukka machine, nor the Leftwich one. here's another blog, from them both. I am a fan of both. the Jukka and Leftwich blogs are posted to everyday, but those I do NOT read daily, but let them build up and appreciate in a flood. that's my approach.
leaving Denny's for the airport yesterday and a feller starts yelling at us. I was slow on the uptake, didn't connect the sound to us, but Beth caught the drift and said let's go back into the restaurant. and it was weird enough, as the guy started bellowing and running toward us. Beth told the cashier about this guy. he came to the door, kinda knocked on the door. a manager met him there. the guy was apologizing for scaring the people. the manager met him on such terms. he didn't mean to scare anyone, he said. the guy shook hands with the manager. he came in, apologized to me and to Beth. he stuck his hand out for Beth to shake. it was a little odd, since he was a black man and Denny's has had problems with racial profiling. he shook my hand with a very strong grip, smelled of alcohol. he explained the situation to the two Denny's employees nearby. he didn't mean to scare anyone, he said. a woman was heading for the cashier and he graciously took her hand and kissed it. he was some indeterminate age, 30-60. his hands were dry and craggy. I'm so slow to piece things together that I never felt concerned about his rush towards us. I felt tremendous sadness about the guy. I have no idea what his point was. probably he didn't know either. when we went back out he was on the corner where he started, with his pack. life nowhere, or nearly so. that morning when I was wandering around in Orem, I saw a guy with his belongings in trashbags, and dressed in same as well. sensibly, as it had rained hard the night before. he mumbled but to himself. both men in their worlds, with diminishing connection to 'this' world. already seen that with my father. a slippery slope of loss. and you know, you might want to be noble and empathize, but you can't do it. their trouble is in a world you do not really know. I find myself relegating these people into 'these people', cannot break thru that barrier. I'm in my own box. a long way to go...
I feel some defensive about Jonathan Mayhew's cliches concerning Coolidge as several said cliches have appeared on this very blogaroony. my sense of Coolidge the jazz drummer is very specific. I was told the fact some 33 years ago, after a reading by double C. I can't recall the book title but in class we read from the one featuring all those prefixes and suffixes. sure it was strange, but then, I hadn't faced any dada or whatever. lots was new to me then. Coolidge read very firmly, with a sense of time. the drumming thing comes in not so much in the sense of beat, but in the sense of space between beats. negative space, so to speak. his poems spoke, thus emphasized, only parts of words, yet a syntax existed. I suppose a syntax must exist, but at any rate his implication of this negative space was powerful, and drummerlike. my favourite drummer is Dave Mattacks, ex of Fairport Convention and all sorts of studio work. tho he certainly can go Keith Moon as needed (tho without losing the beat), his hallmark is that sense of time between beats. not all of Coolidge's work is percussive so. much is quite effusive. what I learned from Creeley's line is the sense of space and time. especially, I guess, his enjamnments. the negative space between lines is powerful and effective with Creeley. one sees his mind work within time, with the musical beat space. I don't think one needs to know that Coolidge is a drummer to appreciate his work, nor do I think one needs to know of Keats' tuberculosis. but those facts are in there, to use or misuse.
other blogging poets write of their travels in terms of poetry readings attended/participated in. that don't seem my doorway. I hadn't/didn't travel much till I married Beth. who was raised in Nevada mainly, and conceives distance differently than I do. people in the Boston area regard wetern Massachusetts not just as another state, but one immensely difficult to reach (a 2 hour drive). for Beth, a 2 hour drive is what you might do for a cup of good coffee (Beth's excitement was palpable when she espied a Starbucks somewhere near Orem, Utah on saturday. I'm less infatuated with coffee, but I recognize dreck, which seems the norm in a great patch of this country). the space of the western states really astonishes me. Olson writes of an extent, but Dorn conceives a different perspective on that. so that I think it right to add that perspective in reading Olson. Olson read about the west, Dorn lived it. so we flew west last monday, arriving late in SLC. there is a reason why we didn't go directly to Reno by plane, but it's too hard to explain. I read the Evans-Wentz edition of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, possibly the earliest English translation of that text, on the flight. that and a book about the Tibetan Book of the Dead are all I read on the trip. I woke wide awake the next day, went down to the lobby, where one desk person sat on a couch watching tv. the other was at his post and sprung up with polite surprise: good morning sir! the clock read 4:00, ie 4 hours after I went to sleep. but I didn't turn around right away, I went outside and wandered some, as if I had a purpose. eventually I went back to bed, then arose at a more sensible time, to sit in the lobby, listen to Fox News (did you know Michael Jackson killed a girl in Aruba?) and wrote. I wrote in a not quite pocket-sized journal I got at Barnes & Noble. my young friend Isaac saw me with it once, and got himself one just like it. I brought my computer but wasn't interested in using it on this trip. a journey thru hellzapoppin winds, rain and snow to Sparks. Beth's sister put us up at the Nuggest in Sparks, a bigass casino/hotel. we weren't there to gamble, nor were we funded for it, so we only gave a modest tribute to the great God of Gambling. I wandered around inside and out then found a place to sit and write. it was too rainy to take the camera outside. most times we went out (something the casino does everything it can to keep you from doing), I brought the camera. scenic pictures, family pictures, and pictures of interesting trees or whatever, all mixed up. I feel either intrusive or geeky taking pictures of people so I tend to take more pictures of manhole covers than the sort of thing you might share wih relatives. on friday we drove to Boise. in Nevada, I kept missing pictures of dust devils, small ephemeral cyclonic pillars of dust. they'd fizzle out by the time I got the camera out or even just on. I couldn't get an effective picture of a rainbow sort of thing that we saw in Oregon. it was this short spectrum right at the horizon between 2 hills. likewise a full rainbow just didn't show up properly in the pictures I took. let alone the golden eagle on a fence post, the dead antelope in the road, and so on, all passed before I could ready the camera. each morning I'd sit in the lobby where we stayed and wrote. final stop was Orem, just down the road apiece from SLC. Orem/Provo are hip zesty towns, owing a lot to Brigham Young University sitting there at the foot of the mountains. plus the influx of skiers and tourists. how astounding to see these snow covered mountains so close by. SLC is a vast perplexing mess of rectilinear streets and solid values. a little too solid, if you know what I mean. I stayed in SLC for a while years ago. looking for rentals, you would see the notation: no coffee drinkers. I imagine such injunctions are no longer legal, but the spirit of them remains. don't you be starting up with your sinful ways. SLC is bizarre anyway. imagine coming to the valley in the day, a desert, a huge unpotable lake, salt flats and alkali, and think: here's where we shall settle and multiply. well, they done it. which means that on sundays, almost no restaurants are open. saturday night, Orem is a-bustle, sunday no stores and very few restaurants will take your fare. it's not the lack of service but the fundamentalist imperative beneath it that makes the area unwholesome to me. but it is awful beautiful. we killed time before our flight by driving thru Provo Canyon. probably the best photographic subject of the trip, but I had neglected to charge my batteries. and was, after all, a mite tired of taking pictures. anyway, you tend to get the feeling you haven't experienced something if you didn't get a pic, so I was happy to crane my neck sans camera. so that's my trip, somewhat.
returned from a short whirled tour, and I am glad you bloggos out there were able to carry on without my earnest presence last week ('ceptin' a few pictures dropped down from on the road). a Logan airport to Salt Lake City connection, then a ramble across the desert to Sparks, Nevada (next to Reno), then a stopover at Boise, then a stopover at Orem, Utah (next to Provo), then a reverse flight into the humidity of Boston. see, the weather west was cool and rainy. the drive from SLC to Reno as for instance began in violent winds and lightning. as we neared Nevada, we met snowfalling. in Sparks rain was the weather quotient. the whole high desert region was way too green. I'm sure the mountains back of Provo and Orem were skiable, not just dusted, freshly laid snow at that. I could tell adventures, or whatever. Beth's niece graduated from a special school that features college courses. only 70 in the class (my graduating class was 700). the ceremony took place at the Hilton hotel. our first glimpse of the graduates came when they rose on a platform from below the stage. the final image to savour was at the end when the curtains parted and an American Airlines plane roared towards the crowd. decked out about the plane were the grads. we are talking a show! I didn't attend my own festivities lo these many, but I am pretty sure that it was a straightforward here's your goatskin, plus a bunch of go forth words by teacherly figureheads and the students who sucked up to them. as each grad walked across the stage to receive a diploma, a teacher would read words that the students prepared. pictures of each student were projected on a screen, a baby pic and something recent. Beth's niece sang the Star-Spangled Banner, kudos to anyone who can hit the notes and remember the words.