Archive for the ‘poetry’ Tag

The writing life

Insights, like poems, sometimes just fall on your path, like the leaves from the trees thisIMG_3124 time of year.

A friend wrote me, and his experience so paralleled mine, and many others’, it was light work lineating his letter into the following poem. If you’re a thinker, writer, or artist, I imagine you might well agree.

 

Brief aus München

 

Yesterday I had a day

sitting for hours at my desk

playing internet-chess, thinking,

 

“this novel that’s kept me

from doing anything useful

a year now will never work”

 

and it was all my fault: I

chose this way, I

was sticking to this

 

idea, I was thinking

I could be not only a

writer but a novelist,

 

my father was right,

I left the right path

when I went to Berlin…

 

This morning, I got the idea,

I don’t know from where,

how it could work. Sun

 

shining on my balcony,

and I think: “Best choice ever,

to live and work like this.”

“The poetry wars never ended.”

DftPWChicago Review has just posted a lively, provocative conversation with Kent Johnson and Michael Boughn about the motivations driving that equally lively web-journal Dispatches from the Poetry Wars.

At a time when Instapoets are lionized as The Big New Thing (because of their sales numbers) and the art is otherwise domesticated (in the MFA program and English class), I know of few more vital, critical, and necessary sites of resistance than Dispatches.

Gratitude by the syllable

IMG_2590Tomorrow, here in Canada, it’s Thanksgiving. Regardless of the nature and origins of the holiday in the U.S. and Canada, there is mounting evidence of how gratitude can shore up happiness. It was this insight that inspired my composing the following poems, each noting some experience for which I felt spontaneously grateful. You can read the sequence, here.

Thanks!

RE: Itō Jetnil-Kijiner Niviana Pato

A lot of poetry stories get conveyed down my newsfeed. Here’re three of special http _upload.wikimedia.org_wikipedia_commons_thumb_1_12_Plato-4.png_200px-Plato-4significance from this week.

First is a short film of Hiromi Itō reading her poem “The Moon”. Itō is (in)famous in Japan, often credited with opening the space for a frank, fresh, new women’s writing. I discovered her in Rothenberg’s and Joris’ Poems for the Millenium, then her Killing Kanoko, a selection of poems translated by Jeffrey Angles, whose title poem recounts the common but no less hair-raising homicidal resentment mothers feel for their newborns. I still owe Action Books a review of her Wild Grass of the Riverbank—watch for it here….

Next is a short article by Bill McKibben concerning the poets Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner and Aka Niviana, two young women, one from the Marshall Islands, the other from Greenland, who grapple with the realities of climate change poetically, a topic often ventured here. I already knew of Jetnil-Kijiner:  I teach her poem “Dear Matafele Peinam” every year to my introductory English students.

Finally is an interview with a poet not too well known in Anglophone poetry circles (or so it seems to me), Chus Pato, arguably one of the most important poets writing in Galician.

 

A Minor Festschrift for Michael Heller

michael hellerIn Montreal, Concordia University’s Liberal Arts College sponsors an annual lecture. One year, it was Helen Vendler; another, a reading by Allen Ginsberg; and, once, poet Michael Heller, who riffed off Walter Benjamin’s reading of Paul Klee’s painting “Angelus Novus” (see the ninth of Benjamin’s Theses on the Philosophy of History), to develop what he termed a “phantomology.” The details of his argument are immaterial here, but, what’s to the point, of all the lectures I’d heard at this yearly event, his was the only one I hung on every word.

It’s been my luck to remain acquainted with the man and his poetry and criticism since, work that connects the present to the Objectivist tradition in poetry and poetics, especially Heller’s friend and mentor, George Oppen, and that develops an independent vision and practice of its own.

It’s therefore a great pleasure to see Heller’s work appreciated in a manner of micro-Festschrift at Jacket2, that features new poetic and critical work by Heller and himself along with a collection of appreciations. Read it all, here.

Ontario Election Results 2018 in real time

As the results of yesterday’s Ontario election came in and it became clear Doug Ford’s https _www.insauga.com_sites_default_files_imagecache_lead-image-full_article_2017_12_header_photo_0Progressive Conservative party had won a majority, I recorded the reactions of my friends and collated them as they appeared, in the poem (or text) below. Readers can draw their own inferences about the politics of my social circle!

 

Ontario Election Results 2018

 

This is the worst possible timeline

…This will be much worse then (sic) we even know.

Go fuck yourself, Ontario.

Well, I’ve been voting for governments in provincial and federal elections since 1993, and my 100% failure rate is still going strong. Grotesque, Ontario

Maybe compulsory voting and proportional representation?

Based on the predictions that are coming in, all I can say is FUUUUCCCKKKK!!

Wow… Feeling a lot of stunned for my pals in Ontario.

Nice work Ontario, you ding dongs.

That was dumb.

Congratulations Ontario!

… Best case scenario: NDP gets a 15 year mandate to fix things after Ford enacts another Mike Harris-style sack of the province. Some of us may even live to see it.

…Damn… just damn…

(a) Work on Myth

Dispatches from the Poetry Wars has shared a lively back and forth between, mainly, 800px-thumbnailBarrett Watten and Nathaniel Mackey, which, in turn, inspired some lively on-line discussion that turned, in part, around ‘myth’. Interested parties are encouraged to investigate the Dispatches site further for much related matter.

Before I sit down to work through Hans Blumenberg’s Work on Myth, I append the short poem below from Ladonian Magnitudes as a humble contribution to the communal deliberation!

 

Decay Pattern

 

When on earth

was myth a mouth

every head muttered

 

or is noys or

babble first what

 

articulate tongues

propagated on air

 

to ear empty

of echo of

familiar sound

One for Neil Rushton

Thanks to The Anomalist, I discovered this site administered by novelist Neil Rushton on Faerie lore. It resonates with some of my own concerns, an interest in the Celtic Twilight literary movement and the early work of William Butler Yeats, as well as with a parallel folklore, that around the UFO.

One aspect of said folklore is the Faery Light or Will o’ the Wisp, the topic of a poem fromsenathlight my first trade edition, Grand Gnostic Central, that links a sighting of Yeats’ recounted in his autobiography with tales told me by my great Uncle Peter and Aunt Julia on my father’s (Hungarian) side of their experiences in Saskatchewan.

 

Will of the Wisp

 

You say suddenly you saw

A light moving over the river

Just where the water rushes fastest

Brighter than any torch or lamp

 

Later a small light low down

Then over a slope seven miles off

You knew by hikes and your watch

No human pace could so quick

 

Here they trail wagons in blizzards

Swoop like owls to rap at windows

Come in view like oncoming engines

Over no tracks up to those waiting

Ye good old days

A friend brought to mind today his meeting a now-mutual friend, musician Zsolt Sőrés. I Trabant_P_601_S,_Bj._1986_(Foto_Sp_2016-06-05)had the luck to collaborate with Sőrés and his co-musician Zsolt Kovacs in Budapest, an aspect of which is memorialized in the first part of the poem I share below, from Ladonian Magnitudes. (As usual, the formatting here messes up the lineation: the original is written in tercets).

 

Pisces

“If our child is born in February or March it will be a Fish.”

 

Laszlo told us Tibor’d invited us to either his place or The Fish Restaurant

& Laszlo consistent with our unanimous consensus told him The Fish Restaurant

which miffed him a little but then why offer us the choice?—“You don’t do that!”

 

Besides he has a Stammtisch there

there’s always a table for him

“Of course, sir, just this way!”

 

So that day Kovács is supposed to arrive around five to record “Trabant” on DAT in his Trabant

because Tuesday after a solid three quarters of a litre of Tokaj, some beers before, innumerable Unicums, and even a little hash? then two big double vodkas

after the rehearsal for Wednesday night I spouted Marinneti glossolalia driving back to Laszlo’s in Kovàcs’s Trabant no one could stop me

 

So we went to the Tokaj bar Laszlo and I where they ladled half a deci of sweet and half a deci of dry into a glass for each of us drunk down in one go for the effect of a double martini

Then back up to Laszlo’s for a little more hash, no beer! vodka palinka Unicum whiskey two generic Gravol

Kovács an hour and a half late so I’m lying on the front balcony when the Two Zsolts arrive

 

Petra tells me she and Laszlo looked at each other knowingly as I swayed pale out the door

I remember raving the way I did the night before and arriving at The Fish Restaurant by surprise before seven

Sitting with Tibor and Laszlo who looked at each other and in Hungarian agreed I couldn’t eat with them

 

Ordering me a mineral water and putting me out on the balcony

Where I got up telling Petra I just need some air

And wander out into Buda’s streets looking for a bench

 

I remember Petra coming up and seeing how I was sitting tilting back and forth on a little wall over the Duna

The taxi arriving and Petra and Laszlo helping me up supporting me on each arm the taxi driver saying “Later.”

“Get up before they call the police!”

 

“Should I get an ambulance?”—“No, no, he’s just had too much to drink.”

And Kovács coming in his Trabant, me reeling beside him

Rolling down the window on the way and puking a great orange arc

 

Kovács tells me it was as if as he made the U-turn in front of The Fish Restaurant

everything I’d drunk sloshed out

One waiter pointed “Look! He’s doing it again!”

 


 

From Bremervörde we drove north to Otterndorf at the Elbe’s mouth

In the sun Matjes with raw onion on a bun and a plate of crispy gold Pommes with a big dab of mayonnaise

On the picnic table outside the strand café landside of the dike

 

Seaside a briny brown tide covered the sand and washed up cold over and drained through honeycombed red bricks enforcing the shore we walked on

Two black-suited windsurfers rode out fast crazy as the two boys splashing in the swimming pond just left of lunch

The sky painterly with grey-rain and sun-bleached clouds framing low sea daisy yellow mist and high blue

 

The Gasthaus we aimed at for an early supper closed so we drove in to Otterndorf

Brick houses cool sienna tomato rusted in early dusk

Even cobbled clean streets narrow as in Hamburg or Holland

 

A sample of Italian absinth and a flask of Grobmuter’s Apfelsaft in a gift shop just around the corner from the Ratskellar—“Danke, Mutti!” (Danke, Renate, for the absinthe spoon!)

A Norwegian acquavit before a litre of German beer and three rich Matjes filets Hausfrauen Art with a creamy apple onion celery relish and Bratkartoffeln punctuated by a bitter

A soft chocolate-dipped Eis eaten up quickly melting out the bottom of the cone

 

The way back musculature uncomfortable on bone-rack, aching joints, and threatening cramps

In bed sweat wet uncontrollable shivers chatter teeth and fingertips tingle numb

Every joint sore unable to lie still three seconds

 

Eyes rolling in a reeling lolling head

Delirious poetic prayers to Apollo in the name of his son Asclepius to shake from a leafy laurel branch drops blessed by Morpheus to cool my head and just let me sleep

Finally making myself puke three times about three in the morning

Toronto Spring 2018 Getaway Takeaways

You can’t have the sameHeraclitus_in_Thomas_Stanley_History_of_Philosophy

Royal York Library Bar

All Canadian Beef Burger

 

twice. Bunner’s Bake Shop

vegan, gluten-free cinnamon buns

don’t travel well.