Saturday, September 26, 2009

Larry Eigner

Ron Silliman, perspicacious linkmeister, supplied access to Robert Grenier’s preface to the Collected Poems of Larry Eigner ici. It does not look as if this child will be buying that soon, mucho dinero, but it is a true publishing (poetry world division) event.

Grenier managed to get Eigner up to Franconia College sometime during my 2nd year at the school. I say managed because Franconia was a nationally recognized poverty zone at the time, and the 4 or 5 hour drive from Boston seemed to distance the school from most known aspects of civilization. Ashbery came the same year, by bus, and I got the impression that it was akin to a lunar landing.

This reading was about a year after Grenier had first gone to Swampscott to meet Larry. A handful of us, the poets of Franconia, sat round a table in the cafeteria and listened to Eigner. This visit, Grenier made clear to us, was a big deal for Larry. Larry’s father brought him up then discreetly slipped away, so that Larry could be the visiting poet. Larry was in his mid 40s at the time.

Calibrating one’s ear to how Larry spoke took a few moments, then it was the most intimate of poetry readings. Even then, there was a clear sensitivity on Grenier’s part to Eigner’s situation. I do not want to romanticize, but it seems like Grenier’s guardianship of Eigner was of a wonderful generosity. Friends’ of my parents adopted an infant who, it proved, had muscular dystrophy. He lived with the constant fear that he would outlive his parents. I do not know the nature of Grenier’s relationship with Eigner, but it sure seems that Grenier performed an act of generosity and compassion. I am glad that Larry Eigner is honoured with what I hope and believe is a wonderful presentation of Larry’s remarkable work.


Reading Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being by Ted Hughes. It is another examples of me reaping the rewards of Beth’s curiosity, since she combs thru the shelves at bookstores whereas I tend to investigate much more narrowly. It is proving to be an enjoyable read.

I should say that I have not read much of anything by Hughes, only know some of his rep, including a bare modicum of his life with Sylvia Plath. Whatever that relationship was like, it has been transmogrified into legend at this point. Which is to say clouds, mist, haze, and what all. I am glad only a little of that tinges my reading of this book.

I like that this book is scholarly but not academic, if I can define academic to mean frozen within the confines of a dictated discourse. There is a certain type of academic writing that is coded for those between the ivy walls. I think Hughes escapes that limitation.

Hughes’ reading focuses on the mythic element of Shakespeare, and he admits to the influence of Robert Graves and The White Goddess. I appreciate WG, tho cognizant of Graves’ loopiness. Graves is not afraid of making desperate extrapolations, ones that I would not take at face value, but I appreciate the energy inspiring them. Somewhere I read his interpretation of the song “Foggy Foggy Dew”. With wild surmise he decides that the title comes from the Gaelic for Dark Lady or something near, and from that he produces the conjecture--the dark suggesting the nun’s veils--that the song is about a nun’s sexual dalliance. Weeeell, I dunno, as Chico would say.

Hughes keeps a stricter path, with a stringent focus on the theme he has in mind. I shall read “Venus and Adonis”, which I never felt compelled to do, and reread “Rape of Lucrece” because Hughes subtly place these poems within the larger context of Shakespeare’s oeuvre.

I am only at Chapter 3, and progress perforce will be slow, but it feels good to take a fresh look. It is a fat book, rich with implication.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


I have, of late, been titling my posts and writing (somewhat) more formally and focused, but today let me just ramble. We did a yard sale Saturday morning, part 2 of one we did a fortnight ago. Both sales were at our friends, since they are getting rid of stuff too, and they have a yard. The first one went well enough, but the 2nd one scared up little interest. Odd. And it was, as we say hereabouts, pissa cold: upper 30s as the day began, and some kind of serious wind. The sky was cloudless and the world was electric with the first strong feel of autumn, but we froze. Selah.

Beth worked that night, and Erin was immersed in a computer problem, so I watched Fantastic Four. I already ‘saw’ the movie, the quotes indicating that portions of the movie were missed due to intrusion of the sleep function. It is not a bad movie, it fulfills what it is, but it is not top of the class for superhero flicks. Let me count the ways…

The cast is okay. Everyone looks and acts like they should, tho Reed Richards comes across as more of a doofus than I remember from the comics. I was not a fan of the comic. Seems to me, among Marvels of the time, I liked Spiderman and Thor more.

Comics, and the resulting movies, spend way too much time explaining the super powers. And Marvel went that one further by applying halfassed psych re the pain of superherodom. Comics did/do not tend to have the tensile strength to support such inflection, so it all comes across as an awkward potpourri.

Plotwise, gotta have plot, our heroes plus their nemesis are in a space station that gets hit by a cosmic storm, and each mutates. Each mutation is different.

The Thing never made much sense. Is he a pile of rocks? How can he move, et cetera? As a challenge for make up artists he’s just a lot of worry.

Sue and Johnny Storm are both lively. Sue is played by Jessica Alba. This may be the only movie I have seen her in but, because she is such a brand name, I feel like I have been watching her movies for years. Read her as a toned down and saner Angelica Jolie. I got seven posters of her on my dorm wall, man.

I forget who plays Johnny Storm, but he has got it down. He’s brash and funny and Johnny Storm to a T. It seems like he should be better known, that I should know of more work by him, but I do not. I am willing to believe he is totally wasted (as I assume every actor in the movie is) in the GI Joe movie.

The movie rattles along well enough. It has all the needed elements, but lacks pizzazz. The Thing as outcast. Yawn. The love of Reed and Sue. Yawn. The terrifying revenge of Doctor Doom. Yawn. By the 3rd yawn, er well, I guess I dozed off. But it turns out our heroes did not need me: they defeated Doc Doom. Altho there is evidence that he will return. I do not really care. I just know that the physics and physiology of all of these heroes and villains needs more backbone, and I really do not buy Reed’s stretchiness. ‘Nuff said!

Today, perfecter than yesterday (less wind), we picked apples. I think we have been doing this for seven years now. I always thought it was one of those tiresome events that people feel they should enjoy but, in sooth, I love it. I love apple trees, I love apples, and autumn is the perfect time to be out and about. I took 250 pictures in the orchard, and ate 3 apples. Beth makes apple sauce, warms it, and puts it on cornbread. I make an apple pie thing. It is either Swedish or Norwegian apple pie (I do not use recipes much anymore) and consists of sliced apples covered with a mixture of flour, lots of sugar, lots of butter, walnuts and cinnamon. It is good stuff. Apples are good.

We got some cheese, Taleggio, and opened a bottle of Nackenheimer Kronenberg Kabinett, a German wine, and Erin had Whole Food’s Pomegranate Italian soda, whatever they call it (delicious). Beth’s birthday was yesterday, so this was part of that. A few pictures on Facebook, but you have to be my friend.