September 16, 2012 § Leave a Comment
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July 17, 2012 § 1 Comment
Join us this Saturday, July 21st, 4pm, Governor’s Island, NYC. Readings by Henk Rossouw & Janaka Stucky, as well as collaborative poems by Gabe Kruis & Patrick Gaughan.
November 3, 2011 § 1 Comment
I’ve been listening to the PennSound Archive and analyzing poets’ reading styles. Here’s a response to Creeley reading his poems “The Whip” & “For Love” in 1963 at the University of Arizona Poetry Center.
Robert Creeley famously equivocates. In “The Whip,” he vacillates between a woman in his bed and a woman on the roof, a current lover and a potential or former. Creeley injects his printed poems with vacillation through heavy enjambment: “addressed myself to in / a fit she / returned. That / encompasses it. But now I was / lonely.” He indicates the moment he requires to contemplate his word choice with the line break. Read aloud, these momentary deliberations fragment a straightforward narrative, as if Creeley is a close friend stammering through a confession of his predicament for the first time. His reading of “For Love,” conveys the same feeling, as he tries to dictate a love poem on the spot, but constantly scratches his head and eyes the floor and never knows what to say. “If the moon did not… / no, if you did not / I wouldn’t either, but / what would I not / do.” Creeley speaks candidly, sometimes his voice appears close to tears when he cannot decide, as if he didn’t have a finished poem on a podium to read.
January 25, 2011 § 1 Comment
Every time the bucks went clattering
A firecat bristled in the way.
Wherever they went,
They went clattering,
Until they swerved
In a swift, circular line
To the right,
Because of the firecat.
Or until they swerved
In a swift, circular line
To the left,
Because of the firecat.
The bucks clattered.
The firecat went leaping,
To the right, to the left,
Bristled in the way.
Later, the firecat closed his bright eyes
Signs of the frontier—sonorous, repetitious, dreamed. We often recognize the presence of the unknown by what Wallace Stevens here names “clatter”: an ambient chaos, the solid thrum of footfalls upon footfalls. The cycle of pursuit, evasion, and repose upon the edges of the mind. To introduce us to Harmonium, Stevens’ seminal 1923 collection of mostly lyrical inventions, he fades into a haze of dust in the banal panhandle of Oklahoma. But what has been stirred up?
Welcome (perhaps in familiar greeting, to the cowboys and cowgirls among us) to the natural energy of migration upon the earth’s open landscapes. It might be a symbol for the stampede of the imagination, or myriad other energies. These sorts of movements are always at work in life as we know it. In fact, they comprise it. But with motion, as far as I’ve ever experienced, comes the refrain of order. Repetition reminds us of the shape of chaos. The bristle of the superego herds the tumultuous advance of the id into pastures of comprehension. Likewise in Stevens’ exploration—because of his attention to this matter as a feeling, breathing consciousness—the clouds of dust are consumed by the voice of the poet, whose wash of aggression and resistance, scuttle of words and solid bristle of form, will guide page by page into promises of passage.
A kaleidoscope upon the plains or page, the dance of vectors over the sheer plane of consciousness: Stevens reinvents the lyric in its panoramic or aerial form, where there is no “I” to proffer explanation. Instead of personal perspective, there is only distanced, disembodied pattern—a crop circle in the imagination. If the topography of Stevens’ anecdotes correspond at any point to those of Wordsworth’s lyrical wanderings, it is likely only in the familiarity with which both poets return to their particular places: “after many wanderings, many years / Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs, / And this green pastoral landscape, were to me / More dear, both for themselves and for thy sake!”
In its earthiness, “Earthy Anecdote” repeats the eclogues of Virgil and his successors, but this time in mythic American space, vast and unpopulated. It chronicles not agrarian labor but the work of linguistic cultivation. There is no hand yet at work in such a scene.
But shape can also menace: form, whether of language or landscape or predatory firecats, constrains the creativity of the mind, but also its intelligence. As the first gatekeeper explains in one of Kafka’s infinitely constrained parables, “I am powerful. And I am only the least of the doorkeepers. From hall to hall there is one doorkeeper after another, each more powerful than the last. The third doorkeeper is already so terrible that even I cannot bear to look at him.”
In composition, there is a time of cowering that can supersede the sensation of inspiration. This might be what makes the Romantic vision of spiritual space so fleeting, or misleading even. Time passes. Bob Dylan sings a chorus that rhymes with “rangin.” We know now that the bulk of pre-industrial droves will be bolted onto the riveted floor of machinists and managers. Buffalo have long been on the cusp of extinction. Their silhouettes and shag return in analog legends and nerve endings. What kinesis there is circles in the interior spaces, if anywhere, vaulting out at times into the empty space of the firecat’s smoldering eyes.
Read more from our friend Ryan at: http://looseleafcollection.blogspot.com
October 12, 2010 § Leave a Comment
When Cage entered Harvard University’s anechoic chamber in 1951, he was surprised to hear two distinct sounds. Both originated from within. One—the higher-pitched of the dyad—turned out to be the electrical humming of his nervous system. The other tone—relatively lower in pitch—was produced by the movement of blood through his circulatory system. He would say later in reference to the experience, “Until I die there will be sounds. And they will continue after my death. One need not fear about the future of music.”
A strange Gethsemane this Gethsemane transposed.
There, in the dark of the studio, the twisted olive grove given way to acoustic foam and thick, double-paned glass, a face is turned towards the ceiling and hands are wringing. There, the negative space and silence (the immense pressure of emptiness!) push fist-wise against blank eardrums.
It’s October 1971 and a mind is roiling: chronic insomnia, depression, anxiety, despair—a fetid brew indeed and one that will ultimately prove lethal. For the moment, though, Drake, sitting alone, voice and guitar: two consecutive midnight recording sessions is all it takes to produce the record. A feeble lamp twice lit, twice snuffed.
September 23, 2010 § 2 Comments
If you take a look at the National Press Club’s events September calendar, you may find something a little strange scheduled for 12 noon on Monday the 27th. Yup, that’s right, ‘Witness Testimony–UFO’s at Nuclear Weapons Bases,’ in the Holeman Lounge.
Apparently, there’s to be a panel discussion with a group of 6 former U.S. Air Force officers and 1 former enlisted man who all claim to have seen UFO’s flitting around some of our most heavily guarded nuclear weapons facilities.