Saturday, November 24, 2007

I was given a copy of Space, by Clark Coolidge. 1st edition, even. it was published in 1970, by Harper Row. imagine a world in which big publishers publish someone like Coolidge. the cover is by Jasper Johns. I can't recall if I owned this book or not. a number of books I got when at Franconia College have, thru the attrition of years, I guess, went gone. but it is familiar to me. Stein, specifically Tender Buttons, was an important disrupting influence on me. and Coolidge... my 1st year at Franconia, there were no poetry classes. the creative writing class was taught by a fiction writer who, in fact, was a pretty good poetry critic but was natheless uncomfortable at it. so Franconia got a poetry teacher, namely Robert Grenier. it was my 2nd year at Franconia, then, that my reading of poetry got focused. the particularly meddlesome writers for me were Stein and Ashbery (Tennis Court Oath), and then Coolidge. the poems in Space look typewriterly. with a typewriter, you could readily move the carriage to where you want it. of course you can do that with computers, but there's a rectilinear mind controlling computers, which can be an encumbrance, and you don't have the physical connection of placing the word where you want. I was surprised, when Coolidge came to the college to read, that he gave such a zesty reading. it put what he did with his disjunctive, curtailed work into a living context rather than just theoretical. from the music of his words you caught the meaning, if meaning exists in the word meaning. the front and back flaps favour the reader with some surprisingly useful salient map points for reading Coolidge. when it states that syntax has been removed, however, that's got to be examined. the syntax of good English has been devastated, no doubt, but syntax remains. even a narrative, if you want to look. I would hazard the guess that Coolidge utilized overheard, and decontextualized, conversation, just as Grenier did so often. the current age may be a bit fuddy duddy in its landscape. I mean a NY stream and a LANGUAGE stream have combined into the normative nowadays. this book suggests a giddy experimentation that takes of the past more than the networked present. a relique such as this is a vital reminder of the urgent process. I actually got into Coolidge more when he shifted to the high-density prose that typifies so many of those great books that The Figures published in the 80s and 90s. it really is a waste of time to keep bonking on bogus anthologies like Best American Poetry. a more thorough study of foundation work seems much more appropriate. Coolidge, it stuns me to realize, is one of our older poets now, age 68. he has an enormous amount of work published, which I'm sure has yet to be well-traced critically. as with Stein, his contribution seeped into me. my earliest confrontations with both writers was uncomfortable and dismaying. yet I see their lessons in my work, or at least, I see the meaning of their lessons.
check out this piece by Stephen Ellis. it has some of the burnt off visionary quality of Olson's very late poems, when O had spiraled from theoretical command and was staring, instead, at death and life. note Stephen's lines, and the beautiful anticipation of his enjambments. admirable.
I am advised that copies of RIOT ACT by Geoffrey Young will be given away at his reading, noted below, next saturday in Lowell. and it is a Bootstrap Press production. very exciting.

Friday, November 23, 2007

a few pictures below, and at my Flickr page, of Walden in fog. we went there yestermorn (id est Thanksgiving). the water was smooth and clear, surprisingly few people were around. less than a mile away Concord/Carlisle fought Bedford on the field of football. whoever won, God smiled on the winner. today, at my urging, we went to the mall. with no urge to buy anything, just look around. it was only slightly challenging to park. things were busy, that is, people were buying stuff. we did a tour last year and saw less purchases occur. the Apple Store was a-buzz. and there was a swarm of people working there. woohoo, buy Apple stock. Aeropostale appeared to be stuffed with eager young shoppers. Abercombrie and Fitch, however, looked like try to hard. are you taking notes here? at the entrance of A&F stood 2 models, I guess they were. one a gogo dancer and/or cheerleader in short skirt. the other a standard issue slouchy, skinny, hip male model type, with shirt unbuttoned and pants low, body hair removed. such a show is a swipe towards edginess for a suburban mall, but I think it means A&F has lost altitude. it was busy, and the thumping trance of music had its message, but it's like Starbucks, you can see the need for effort now. the poetry has turned to doggerel. Crate & Barrel scooted to its own separate building recently, so its space was filled with a Christmas Ornament shop. the same space held a Halloween shop up till a month ago. will it shift to something else in January? we have zero need for ornaments, in fact, the lower ceiling here means we have a superfluity of decorations, but there were some beauts calling to us, all glitter, shine, jolting colour and what. such are m 1st notes on this most telling of American whatever.
Geoff Young reads in Lowell,
to wit:

Geoffrey Young’s THE RIOT ACT: book release and reading
Saturday December 1st, 2007
3:00 p.m.
National Park Visitor Center
246 Market Street
Lowell, MA 01852

Geoff Young ran the terrific press The Figures for many years, whence came a raft of important books. he is also a wonderful poet and, as I understand, a deft reader. I am certain that this will be an awesome event (I think Bootstrap Press is involved).

, originally uploaded by allen_bramhall.

, originally uploaded by allen_bramhall.

DSCN9165, originally uploaded by allen_bramhall.

DSCN9160, originally uploaded by allen_bramhall.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

John Latta's blog is crackling. his reading and views fit wonderfully into blog format. his doubtfulness is always well backed up. he isn't merely acerbic, tho he has a Dahlbergian whip. I guess I'm too tired to rattle on. I'm glad he's "out there". shamefully, I haven't read a book of his...

must... remedy... this...
a review, by Jeff Harrison, in Galatea Resurrects, of Days Poem.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I got For Girls & Others by Shanna Compton (Bloof Books 2007). hey hey, I'm others, I think. this is her 2nd collection, which is saying something, because the first, Down Spooky, is a pretty mature work. I'm guessing that Girls began with a plan whereas Spooky was collected, for whatever that observation is worth. Girls delivers of advice to/for girls, which being the actual words of advice (from cranky old books) and, more crunchingly, the cultural enclosures meted out. there's the theme of the book, for you English teachers. well, I don't read like that. that's the normative part of the tale. Shanna recontextualizes some 19th century advice to girls with a flarfian beat. I actually hear the persistent trawling of Robert Fitterman here, that method, I mean, not stylistic residue. I haven't read enough to provide a detailed map but there's a sense of sudden rescue to a number of her poems. for instance, "Awful White Wine", great title, wraps around an O'Hara-like flightiness. the last stanza then performs a shift, arabesque, what you will:

All night the cervix of Our Lord
glistens & slurps with an enlarged pink
fiddling sound. We're ready to ascend.

I mean, heigh ho, that's quite a turn, a coaxial collision of intentions. it's funny stuff, with a flarfy jolt and an undazed commitment. I was reading without pen in hand, so I haven't collected many quotations but I assure you that I bounced on numerous felicities. I mean to write further of this book, which I have only just met. my idea is to make a blog where I write more formally and at greater length than what you see here. in lieu of that project, let these few notes tempt you to read and even to own Shanna's latest. it's a handsome ton of energy.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I shot you, Elk, and then I said,
"I feel better now, because you're dead."

file under: Doggerel Will Save Us

extreme Walden

extreme Walden, originally uploaded by allen_bramhall.

fish 2

fish 2, originally uploaded by allen_bramhall.

mysterious crop circle

mysterious crop circle, originally uploaded by allen_bramhall.

if you seek more work by AHB to delight in, be bored or displeased by, or simply ignore, I have a new blog for some of my recent works, yclept Simple Theories. tra la.
I have three poems in Eoagh 4, here. the whole issue is replete, check it out. I don't know if e-journals give a greater sense than print of the ratiocinations and bifurcations but... well I will declare that they do. these many offerings gathered under the aegis, each writer with a direction and plan, explored by Reader. I know some of the people in the masthead by name, by work, by rep, or by nothing at all. whatever I know of them, I understand that they all consider their work important, carrying resonance. and Reader will be delighted by some work, bored or displeased by other, ignore still other. each writer performs this dedication to writing, then flips the work into a stream, where the competition begins. I guess one can worry about that.