Thursday, April 05, 2007

file under just so you know: of the last 18 visitors to this backwater site, 6 arrived because of a search on the term fisher cat, which I have mentioned 2 or 3 times on this blog. lesson: if you want to Sillimanize your blog to a greater audience, mention fisher cats (members of the marten family).
I've been poking at Candor by Alan Davies (not to look a gift horse in the mouth). it's from Roof Books, 1990 or 91. it integrates poetry with criticism. I had to ask him if he wrote it chronologically or if he shuffled. I like to peek under the hood and see the process. not that I understand what's under the hood, I just like to see the gears engaging, and all the other possible aspects of the metaphor in process. Duncan, as will be recalled, went chronological, twining his various threads, one might think, because of the living intersections. Jack Kimball's Post~Twyla includes some criticism as well. in that work, they seem to provide a different metric. and Jack has said that he did shuffle the pieces in the book. the critical matter in Candor seems (to me, anyway) to arise from the particular reading at the time, whether haphazard or assiduously planned. I'd even say that the two works are on opposite (but I wouldn't suggest opposing) ends of the same seesaw. which is perhaps a pointless remark given that I've read so little of Alan's book. the book leads off with a rollicking shout out to all of Alan's homeys, yes, language-centered rap. in one sense, it's a jokey feat, but in another, it is quite an impressive chunk of aural beat. and that's as far as I'll speak of the book at this time, just had to exclaim my 1st taste of the wonder.
check out these rubbings (I forget the word for this) by David-Baptiste Chirot. click the images to enlarge.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Jack Kimball writes up the 4 readings on sunday here. I've noted his reading reviews before, so it's okay that this time I was one of the readers. I agree with Jack that the day had convivial energy. one reading in a funky gallery, another in a funky bar, and the in betweens in which conversation flowed. that's a scene. Beth, who lived for a time in Vancouver, loved the poetry scene there. she said the reading at the Plough and Stars resembled every night in Vancouver, lots of energy and interest. we greatly enjoyed the weekend. I appreciate Jack's effort at connecting the scene, suggesting that Boston need not be balkanized. Boston is not a wasteland, insofar as lots of poetry events and poetry series occur. sometimes it seems like a wasted land, but I can name at least 3 very good Boston reading series, tho admittedly I haven't attended a lot. Beth and I felt guilty leaving Erin alone for much of the weekend. anyway, Jack's effort, which he takes seriously (he asks for copies of the reading material from readings, the better to write about the performances), has a positive impact on The Scene, here.

Monday, April 02, 2007

1st of all, prose is not an opposition to poetry. I'm not sure how to define either term, frankly. you got any guesses? poetry? it is perhaps involved in music/sound, rollicks with image, contours the imagination, and resists. prose? it is lattice work, structuring effort. poetry is the condensation from, to and around words. much depends on the syntactical surprise, the sense of language shifting its stance before our eyes. think of how Dickinson wrenches hymn and doggerel into difficult blossoms. and into the 20th century, the desire/need to get into the space between words: the disjunctive. but our brains aren't just leaping machines, they also follow trails. I see prose as logical line. and yet, in my own prose, I dismay it with a curious sense of resolution. the inferred story one sees in my work is incomplete, not fully voiced, not limited. you could say this is my tactic but it isn't planned. it is how the writing occurs. one poem I read seems illustrative:

Le Voyage au Cafe

All openings proclaimed the new coffee. Simple story: new coffee had beat to the fragrance. Not a palm oil confusion could be found in the basic bliss. A crux coaxed the ball rolling. New dumps were seen in tracing growth thru effort and the catalogue. Old coffee was taken down, brewing on the side of trade. We won't trade any more, proclaimed the days of faster all of you. New coffee like a chain in space, a turnpike called west, a lovely expectation tilling field. New coffee sends shock, jets land on fog timber, the president wills for lasting: all this adheres to humps of future list our names. A drink of new coffee, collective bargaining agreement, a press toward natural, all the basics raveling in a guide of tourneys on the sly. Friends in this time reach over the fence, changing as change, kneeling quickly to result. With diffidence, fog happens to the trace, sonic in bud and back while reclaiming the destitute trump. Mirror hovers over patience like a docket filled with tools. Gesturing rings of sample toes as foot beams need a looming. Friends clump new coffee for the fettle whilst of choose. Chatter bug rambling farm reaps meme taste klatsch for all. Federation meantime matches nebulous parity toward the door. New coffee then plumply lights the hay as we gussy up the flow.

* * * * *

note how it begins declaratively, but shifts into Coolidge Beat. this is prose dangling helplessly. it is squeezed together, hurried and even to me strange. I write these comments from a respectful distance of amazement. I observe the writing thru me. as I read yesterday, I felt my words kinda shooting over people's heads. certainly not in the sense of being too intellectually grand, but that my strategy is unexpected. and my muttered explicatory comments were only hesitant guesses at the time, m0re confusing than helpful. all 3 of the other poets who read yesterday gave small compriseable chunks to the listeners. Alan's short bursting lines, Christina's distinct, pounding (and hilarious) gatherings, and the flickering recognitions of John (I think my earlier comments on his reading disserve him some). my prosy pieces are rather relentless in how they run out ahead. their density owes to some kind of physics I haven't worked out the vocabulary of yet. also, I don't believe it is easily seen how seriously I take Fu Manchu, Tarzan and space aliens. if you've read this far, I just want to say that this is no apologia or defense, it's a working out.
I just discovered this interesting e-book, a collaborative conversation between Alan Davies and Miles Champion. I found Alan very approachable concerning critical and poetic matter. he's thoughtful and committed but not mysterious. a seriously low rent dependence on personality smothers Poetry Land. and it is not just the chattering bloggers who stoop so, you see it in the academic world too. this competitive fol-de-rol is all cartoon quality dynamics that leave a pall of discouragement. when I earlier spoke of Davies being gallant, it was an assertion of his calm dedication to poetry, not that other stuff. Wikipedia says he's a buddhist, which I suspected from his conversation. I don't know if Wikipedia is accurate but it makes sense. anyway, I invite people to read the above e-book, and I hope to write more about Davies.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

a full poetry weekend for Beth and Allen. saturday a dinner at the home of John and Andrew, who run (with others) the Demolicious Series. Alan Davies, Christina Strong and Jack Kimball also attended. Alan and Christina came up from the city together on the bus, and stayed with John and Andrew. Christina had a reading later, more anon. some gossip, some poetry talk, lots of conversation. as someone who allowed himself to be distant from the poetry happenings of this town, it is good to connect. it was pretty late for this child when we got home. the cat kindly let me sleep in till 6:30, but a mite weary nathless. we got to the reading just at 2:00. Michael, with whom I've had an email correspondence, and who is a hardened veteran of my previous reading, was outside the gallery. inside was empty. we helped set up chairs then went down the street so Beth could get some much needed coffee. tired as I was I also had adrenalin in my blood, so I partook of none. Joel Sloman, Christina and someone whose name I haven't retained read open mike. then me. should one review one's own reading? well I will. I practiced quite a bit, or at least, reading thru my selection of poems 2 or 3 times a day seems like a considerable bit of practice. I weeded out a few poems that I didn't feel I could read well. also, I aimed at no more than 20 minutes. I attempted the spectrum, which is not accomplishable in 20 minutes. I mean, I think my work is varied but anyway, any writer has a range to their work. as I read I became aware of the difficulty of prose. I really wonder what poetry is, but in sooth, I see the formal presence of poetry. I think my prose is poetic, that it is poetry, but it is difficult to hear aloud. at least, that was how I felt. my more narrative works seem to strain poetry's bounds. the last piece that I read is narrative, tho it may not be clear in the piece that my idea of narrative shies from resolution. I became aware that context was unclear. it was part of a series but maybe hung there weirdly. anyway, I managed dynamics as I read tho really, I don't want to modulate professionally, if you know what I mean. I seem to have a permanent ticklish cough which was something to deal with. and one of the proprietors of the gallery for some reason sat off to the side making random noises with things. I mean dropping things and such. it wasn't cruelly distracting but it put a part of my mind bemusedly wondering. she actually made her exit with a flourish while Alan read. obliviousness that could be bottled. I didn't feel connected to the audience, but maybe I was thinking too much. I should avoid thinking. at one point I heard myself intone poet voice. only briefly, and I noted it for the audience. I see what I write as an intimacy, not a performance (not to denigrate performance) and could feel myself not wanting to give into some need to convince the audience. I read selected poems from a couple of series, and realized that the context was confused. that's a difficulty I have with magazines, that much of my poems connect with others, and to present them without that context is a disservice. but fiddle-dee-dee. I had no sense how the audience really felt about my reading, which perhaps is a blindness on my part. but enough about me, if that is possible. Alan Davies read directly. he's a really nice person, friendly, gallant even, and uncompetitive. he lives in NYC but is from Canada (you can hear it in his accent, tho he's been in this country pretty much entirely since he was 17). Davies read Book 5 and Book 6. of what? his ongoing project, for which he has a working title that he would not reveal. Book 5 is published by Katalanche Press, Michael Carr proprietor. Katalanche also published a book by Mark Lamoureaux (sorry if I misspelled), that I reviewed at Galatea Resurrects. from the evidence the books are made with care and love. I will seek more offerings from the press. Book 6 is in manuscript. Davies is currently working on book 10. he read sitting down. Book 5 consists of 2 short-lined verses per page, 2 to 4 lines long. I thought of hay(na)ku, or even haiku, for each stands on its own tho they form a chain. he read in a direct, punchy but not overly processed way. Book 6 had longer lines and was more flowingly read. the effect in those cases is multi-layered. or twined threads, say. in Book 6 Davies uses a bold square to mark the line end. Davies writes by hand, I ask those sorts of question. listening to Book 6, I could imagine him travelling around with a notebook. that the poems seemed to inhabit a reactive space. later, a group of us--11, I think--went to a nearby restaurant. this is such a sweet thing, to convene so. I asked Alan about how he wrote and he showed me a 5x8 yellow notepad, which was his work for Book 10. he said he does write here and there but that's not the nature of his work. I was taken by the yellow pad, as in: not a notebook? I'm a notebook guy. he gave me his copy of Book 6, as well as 2 other books, that are currently still in the car. we hung at the restaurant for a while. Christina was to read at 7, so there was time to kill. it boiled down to Alan, Michael, Beth and I hunting down a bookstore. there's a notable used bookstore in Somerville to which we repaired. with the trip across town, hunt for parking, and walk down the street we hadn't much time in the store. then we aimed ourselves towards the Plough and Stars. it was noisy and jammed but we found seats. Christina read 1st. the 1st piece was a long, snappy and snapping thing. her work is mordant, funny and political. which doesn't seem to express the experience of hearing her work. I mean, her work doesn't shape around three adjectives so easily. googly voices appear, and assorted strains (several senses to the word). lots of energy. John Coletti followed. his work consists of short glints. I know that sounds like a lame description but it seems apt. poetic flashes. he intoned his work dryly with an effective filigree of tangential comment. I felt like his work stayed in one language tho. I must say that I have a dismay about poetry. divested, mostly, of the romantic idea, the byronic type who wanders lonely as a cloud, and much influenced by the Creeley firmly laid line and cadence, yet I suffer a sense, still, of limitation. which is why prose is important to me, with its shifting variances. I think my prose struggles in contention with the block of text as block of text, if you take my meaning. in the sense that each block of text looks the same, so the phanatopeia demands a visualizing effort on the reader/listener's part. anyone get me here? I saw Coletti's work floating free, yet its glintiness seemed ephemeral. tho there were lines that I would want to remember, if my brain weren't so porous. he had a good-natured performative relationship with his work. I don't mean to post him up as my problem, but in his work I see my own issues. so there that was. Christina gave me a copy of Anti-Star, from which she read. and then it was time to go home.