Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bruce Springsteen Sincerely

I have heard Bruce Springsteen’s version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” a bunch of times lately, and am compelled to ruminate on that horrible rendition. I think I may have slipped a clue as to where my rumination might tend by the use of a certain adjective, but so it goes.

The song itself is one of those forgettable cutesy songs that no one can forget. You can deconstruct it into its component rules committees and such, but that’s like looking deeply into the Christmas phenomenon: no thanks. Or at least, take it as written.

Bruce interplays with his band, hahaha loudly: have they been good? Will Clarence get a new sax? Thud, if you ask me. But Showbiz Bruce pushes that for a bit. See, I saw Bruce at the Superbowl, when he was greasily super convincing about playing to the camera and performing all the necessities required by the Super Bowl Thing. It really dismayed me to see him phony up.

With the Christmas song, tho, we see that phonying up is part of the program. When he starts singing, he’s putting his whole Springsteenness into it. Yes, he has a tight band, yes Clarence can throw that same solo in per usual, and yes, Bruce can orchestrate the thing to death.

Robert Grenier hates words? I hate meaning. I hate the registry that enforces Bruce towards the payment system of audience interplay. Cute song of the Christmas season for the 4 hour Springsteen party. Bleah. Bruce means something, something meaningless.

Just last Sunday, at Best Buy, I witnessed some younger generation Vegas minion singing with a big band. That is, one of the super-sized screens of tele-vision showed him performing. Crafted mannerisms and slick foreplay intimating some grandeur that doesn’t exist, I recognize the same stuff in Springsteen. You had to get old, you bumbumhead.

Youngish writers at the Boston Poet Tea Party played to audience. They were the audience. Their sincerity was within a social context of agreeability. Like Bruce, they acted like land masses. Okay, but then poetry is dead within the context of agreeability. We do not agree with words, we watch them in their life. Those who press words, lose words. Bruce put that shouty voice to work singing the song he never thought about. All that sincerity turned only into noise. Bleah.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Post-Twyla by Jack Kimball

Last night—or yestreen, as the poets say—Beth and I left Erin to recover from his chem final (tonight it’s the charms of calc), to have dinner with Jack Kimball. In the course of said repast, Jack handed me a copy of Post-Twyla, version 2. Post-Twyla is the subject of today’s sermon.

I reviewed Twyla lo these four years ago, here. Jesse Crockett did likewise. Excellent setting of scene, I’m sure you’re thinking.

The point here, now, revolves around the effect of my opening Post-Twyla, version 2. Post-Twyla has now been reset. It is now available at Faux Press, so you can see for yourself (and should!). The phrase New and Improved comes to mind.

The text has been re-envisioned. Boldface, greyface (i.e. grey scale font), and varied font sizes pepper the field of text where previously one absorbed visual ordinariness, fonts in passive condish. Anyone can screw around with fonts but I mean to say, when I opened the book, without even reading the words, I comprehended something great and changing. It’s a marvel.

I loved this text from first meeting, in manuscript. As I recount in my earlier review, Jack read much of the ms to Beth and me, and we heard a considerable portion at a public reading. It is a text of humour, speed, voices, changing, sadness, shifts, stark, and joy. It really is a masterpiece. You hear all that in a rollick that creates a will. This is poetry of the Dickensonian sort. I am not even bothering to look for the top of my head.

Jack  notes that Post-Twyla (the hyphen replaces the tilde of the previous version) began as a reaction to Flow Chart by John Ashbery, then it swerved to its own dalliance and condition. 164 pages and 250 sections of the human voice immersed in the words of day and night. Really beautiful.

The way the festival of fonts burrows into the already antic love that these words convey is something to experience. Writing this now is my first attempt to go beyond wow! Jack read some sections aloud, and so did Beth. Okay, I did too, but not as well as them. Everyone read what randomly appeared after a thrum of the pages. Jack said that is how one should read the text, but I already knew that.

Today’s poetry world seems to be stuffed with chapbook calling cards of grabbed together exercises. Post-Twyla stretches beyond that busy hopefulness of success and ambitionized paltry. He launches something that provides sliding context for our words, and how our words await us. This is, I repeat, a masterpiece. Discover this for yourself.