Saturday, October 13, 2007
I've been pokily reading the wild piece by Ted Berrigan and Harris Schiff, a transcription of the 2 of them at a Yankees/Red Sox game, 1977. it's a hilarious performance, tho gruesome to think of these guys hyped on pills, which they pop thru out the game. I like it as a historical document, with names like Reggie Jackson, Yaz, Bernie Carbo, Billy Martin. I also have a similar piece done by Bernadette Mayer and Anne Waldman, a basketball game. in each, that New Yorkish sense of now, that must be transcribed. of course there is nothing more self-conscious than such performances, just like reality tv, so they must be read in that light. the drug use brings to mind some issues. we know the physical harm of that, but that's outside my concern. disordering the senses: there is a truth to that, I mean a functional one. one may discover, however, that that disordering becomes an attempt to repeat earlier experiences. that is, I think the trick works only for a while. at least, I think one should be wary of a mechanical method, in any sense, in the creation of work. there have been several times in my life when the very last thing I would do before sleep was to write. the idea being that my defenses might be down. one can seek out distractions, whether it be drugs or alcohol, or writing in busy circs, like on a bus. et cetera. whatever one does, one needs enough self-awareness to acknowledge the workings of the methodology. if you use writing procedures, you have to observe if they become rote. Whitman so often pronounced grandly, but sometimes it was just imitation of earlier work. when people rail against NY poetry or LANGUAGE, they probably (when the critic is being fair) detect a rote quality, that the writer isn't being surprised by the work. the Berrigan/Schiff thing consists of them in babbling improv, boozy shenanigans. The Sonnets sticks out in Berrigan's work, his only extended use of cut ups (so far as I know). I know he lifts from here and transposes there elsewhere, but only in The Sonnets did he take that as the route itself. which is a wisdom. the life and liveliness of his work depends, I think, on his own sense of surprise. Jonathan Mayhew speaks of "O'Hara's negotations [sic] between gregariousness and introspection", a nifty encapsulation. it's that negotiation (sic does not mean 'wake up, stupid', no matter how full of oneself the user of the term may feel) that keeps the poetry (and the poet) interested. O'Hara caught between sharing and self-revelation. which is where the low wattage NY stuff trails off, where the imbalance between gregariousness and introspection produces a stiff, self-conscious construct of 'ideas'. so, in sum, let's get rid of crappy NY School poetry, tip our hats to those who lift the surprise, and let's move on.
Monday, October 08, 2007
Demolicious reading yesterday, featuring Daniel Bouchard as the local poet and Cathy Hong Park from Brooklyn. DB read 1st, thanking those who chose poetry over Red Sox playoff (and Patriots juggernaut). as he typically does, he read someone else's work 1st: After Apple Picking by Frost. I saw him read WCW once and it was terrifically powerful; he clearly connected with the work. seemed less so with Frost. the highlight was perhaps the 2nd poem he read, "Rackline" from his 1st book. which is (still) in a box around here somewhere. the poem twines memories of a friend's funeral, depiction of his job collecting trash on Cape Cod, and observance of local birds. Silliman has claimed that he feels close to Bouchard's poetics, which I can only guess means the notation of dry, unembellished detail. dry is the word, as Bouchard read without much inflection or speaking to the audience. a more recent and more pointedly political poem also rang well. he read extensively. Cathy Hong Park read from a single book and... here I should mench the work that Jack Kimball does at readings. he takes notes, he asks for copies of poems read and otherwise performs a solid reportage effort. Jack being absent, I can only offer that which sticks in my brain 15 hours later. Hong said that in some mention of her, she was referred to as a South Korean dissident. I guess dissident just naturally attaches to South Korean. anyway, her book is a tour of an imaginary city. I just flashed on St John Perse and the kind of evocation he produced. Hong Park didn't use description so much as soliloquy to render this city, but still, there's a similar homage to the imagination. in style the work recalled Stacy Doris for me. a dashing, lively chatter of voices. her language, that of her characters, was a transformation of English, or pidgin, tho she never used that word. familiar phrases were shifted or punned upon, in a swelter of hilarity and speed. she read extremely well, channeling easily. it was a good reading, and the after-reading as always was fun. next month Tom Beckett and Chris Tonelli, to which I look forward.