- Thomas Merton (in Zen and the Birds of Appetite)
|Roethke cracking up.|
A few quotes from Roethke's book On Poetry and Craft (Copper Canyon Press):
"If a thing fails rhythmically, it's nothing."
"Art is our defense against hysteria and madness."
"Inspiration? The important thing in life is to have the right kind of frustration."
|...that the whole progress of humanity proceeds.|
- Anna Pavlova
|Hugo with imagined bourbon on the rocks.|
|AWP (Where's Waldo Wittgenstein?)|
"I ought to have become a star in the sky ... but instead I've remained stuck on the earth."
You see, Wittgenstein too failed at AWP.
And for those of you who did triumph, congratulations! Lao Tsu says it best:
"Triumph is not beautiful
He who thinks triumph is beautiful
Is one with a will to kill
Conduct your triumph as a funeral"
|AWT 2013 (Boston)|
"Publishing a book of verse is like dropping a rose petal in the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo."
Coincidentally, AWT (The Association of Writers with Tourettes) will also be having its annual conference next week. This event is sure to include many of the exciting phenomena AWT has become famous for: coprolalia (spontaneous cursing), echolalia (repeating the words of others), and palilalia (repeating one's own words). There will be a veritable epidemic of readers, all of whom will be mostly talking to themselves surrounded by others also mostly talking to themselves. You may find yourself unknowingly involved in one of their readings, as they will be taking place at innumerable restaurants and bars throughout the city. If you find yourself having a relaxing dinner one minute, only to be surrounded by raving lunatics the next, do not panic! While stopping, dropping, and rolling may be effective, quietly removing yourself from the situation is probably best. Do not give them money! as this will only encourage their behavior.
To be sure you won't find yourself in such a situation (or if you are curious to see them in action), we've provided a link to their list of events here: AWT.
At no point in the history of the human race have there been more writers and writing programs in existence than at present. Enjoy the show!
"...the author who attempts to organize space while neglecting time is venturing into a field in which materials and the tools - paint, canvas, stone, metal, wood, and camera lens - are more effective than language. He is working in two or three dimensions instead of four and is thus evading what seems to me a more difficult challenge and a greater opportunity for innovation."
This is Malcom Cowley's (one of Malcom Cowley's) attacks on the avant-garde, and specifically Robbe-Grillet's idea of the "new novel" and Andy Warhol's a in Cowley's essay A Defense of Storytelling.
It seems to me that he has a point, though a decidedly conservative one - for after all, a writer must be able to write whatever a writer wants to write, right?
But it's true, one must admit, that one advantage writing has over, say, painting, sculpture, music even, is time. The writer has the ability to lead the reader through maze after maze, the seeing forest and the hearing field, across the street and up the stairs, to open the door, to enter the room, to walk over to the window, to open the window, to step out onto the ledge, to look down, to sigh, and then, perhaps, to go back in or to jump or to fly.
|Cuetzpaltzin after having his poems misunderstood by Cortes.|
He goes his way singing, offering flowers
And his words ring down
Like jade and quetzal plumes
Is this what pleases the Giver of Life
Is that the only truth on Earth?
- Ayocuan Cuetzpaltzin (Nahuatl poet, 15th century)
The tlamatinime people of precolonial Mexico suggested that immutable truth is by its nature beyond human experience. Their philosophers believed that, because we are mortal, we cannot know Truth. If we cannot grasp eternity, then we cannot grasp eternal truth.
The passage above is a kind of poetics solution to this riddle. We cannot know truth, but we can sing the things around us. And through singing gain access to truth.
The poet continues:
From whence come the flowers that enrapture man
The songs that intoxicate, the lovely songs?
Only from the innermost part of heaven.
Through art we access grace, or other, or truth. Perhaps this seems obvious, or cliche now. But it strikes me that this was a realization of an early 15th century poet from subtropical north america, one of millions doomed by the fast approach of material Europe.
|Arreguin's The Bull Got Into the Flower Garden|
Issue VI is now available via this website (see "Buy a Copy" button), with work by Jeff Encke, Annie Chou, Greg Bachar, Nadine Maestas, Fred Sasaki, Rachel Kessler, Greg Bem, Marissa F. Baum, and Simone Sachs. Art by Alfredo Arreguin.
Please buy a copy! All proceeds go to the next issue of struggling literary magazines based in Seattle that rhyme with 'crazed goy.' You're gonna love it!
"A poem often becomes a kind of commodity in the competitive literary world of curriculum vitae, though I deplore the fact. I would be very sorry if either this mischance, or your numerous recognitions, were to get between you and the life of poetry, which is an art, not a competition, an art demanding self-discipline and apprenticeship, often through very unencouraging circumstances, for stakes which have nothing to do with the market."
- Sontag (from "Against Interpretation," which is required reading!)
|Rodin's Poet and Critic.|
"There is no reason ever in the world for the critic and poet to be at odds, and for the following reason: the primary motion of the poet is to put things together and touch a source that feels like life, at times even more powerful than life. It is a synthesis of analogies and associations that promotes, in the best hands, and even when disjunctive, a sense of renewed vitality. That is what one feels. That is a fact whether noticed by poet or critic. The critic makes another kind of synthesis; his or her synthesis comes as a result of what can be added up after taking things apart. What is added up, as in dissertations and works of critical discourse, is thought to be subtler and finer than the work that gave rise to it. But that cannot be, because the two modes of thought, the creative and the analytical, are not comparable; they are apples and oranges."
"Thousands of papers may be written about Rodin and many of them may know more about Rodin than Rodin did but they will not resemble sculpture. Rodin made the sculpture. No one else did."
"We will dance and sing. Sometime later we will talk about singing and dancing, and in that effort, we will need all the help we can get from the critics or anyone else."
"The logos of a bad writer throws words together in no order at all, perhaps beginning at the point where it should end and wholly ignorant of organic sequence. You can enter this logos at any point and find it saying the same thing. Once it is written down it continues to say that same thing forever over and over within itself, over and over in time. As communication, such a text is a dead letter."
Anne Carson (in Eros the Bittersweet)
|Baudelaire with dog hidden in shirt.|
Come here, my dear, good, beautiful doggie, and smell this excellent perfume from the best perfumer of Paris.
And the dog, wagging his tail, which I believe is that poor creature's way of laughing and smiling, came up and put his nose to the uncorked bottle. Then, suddenly, backed away in terror, barking at me reproachfully.
"Ah miserable dog, if I'd offered you a bag of shit you would have sniffed at it with delight and perhaps devoured it. In this you're like the public, which should never be offered delicate perfumes that infuriate them, but only carefully selected garbage."
|The thick smear of a blue spot.|
- William Gass
|Who knows why or should|
Steinbeck goes on to answer this question in his introduction to Cannery Row. But what good are answers? (If you're curious, find it in the Bantam edition ). We all have to all of us be grateful for the question.
Of course the book itself, Cannery Row, is an attempt to answer the question. What isn't?
... Incidentally, Steinbeck waxes Steinian in the same edition when he dedicates the book (without punctuation):
who knows why or should
|The, um, frosting on the cake. aka 'Looking Inwardly Serious.'|
"If it is with outer seriousness, it must be with inner humor. If it is with outer humor, it must be with inner seriousness. Neither one alone without the other under it will do."
But then again, either one alone with the other over it will do as well. As will one or both with the other under it, or over it. And neither one not alone without the other under (or over) it. Any of these is fine ... seriously.
|Nietzsche, moments after God shouted "Nietzsche is dead!"|
-Robert Corrigan in Comedy; Meaning and Form.
One might add equally 'good' or equally 'bad,' in that there is no longer one accepted perspective to judge these things by. This is, of course, both a good and a bad thing. In relation to poetry, this is why nothing is no damn good nomore and everything is often always bad. And if you think otherwise well then you're right too!
|Sartre seeing against himself.|
If you apply the same approach to writing, you get "I write against myself." If you are suspicious of that which comes easily, too easily, you might arrive at something outside yourself, larger than yourself. You might. You might not, but you might.
It's recognizable at readings when a poet/writer is comfortable writing in some certain way. The poems are difficult to distinguish from each other, difficult to distinguish from the poems he/she read at their last reading, or perhaps they've been reading the same poems at successive readings, for successive (gulp) years even. Not only is this a creative bog for the writer, but it's also a wriggling morass for an audience, who can't possibly be expected to be surprised by the same thing again and again and again ad nauseum.
Or, as Frost says: "No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader."
Reading PageBoy might make your face do this! It might transport you to exotic climes (or wherever he is)! So loosen your tie, and put on a pair of (special-spy-issue-unscrambling) sun glasses and read child read!
If you're still unsure, you can find Mr. Constant's review here: Please Amy, Use Lube.
Some photos from the Issue V release party:
And if pictures aren't enough, video has been posted here: Wow. Enjoy!
|the seeing fields and the hearing forest|
|the four hoarse men harassing|
|Paul Nelson playing 'I Spy Pim'|
|Bill Carty impersonating Bill Carty|
|George Ciardi casting an analog spell|
|Alex Bleecker reading five poems at once|
|Jeremy Springsteed cropping his fingers off|
|Sierra Nelson has published more books than she has hands|
|The Editor drank so much wine his hands, even, were blurry|
|Self Portrait of Myself Writing This Blog|
"What can be said, can be said clearly. What cannot be said clearly, is not in the world and one must be silent about it."
I have this quote written in one of my notebooks. I just realized today that I've been misreading it (because my handwriting is so horrible) as saying "What cannot be said clearly, is not in the world and one cannot be silent about it." As in, one is compelled to art by those things outside of the world that we cannot say. The very fact that they cannot be said necessitates the attempt to say them. I've long thought that poetry was an attempt to say what is impossible to say. To speak the unspeakable. And anything sayable isn't worth saying at all.
Wittgenstein though is talking about God. He has said that he likes the idea of a silent religion, and I agree with him there. He was not referring to the arts, so I am not only misreading, but taking the quote out of context and applying it to a different subject altogether. This, I guess, is also what poets do. That ruthless and unethical race of baboons.
Readers will include current contributors Sierra Nelson, William Carty, Jeremy Springsteed, Sarah Galvin, Alex Bleecker, and Paul Nelson. Photographer George Ciardi will be showing prints. The We Don't Know Yets will be playing music. Also: I don't know what else, it could be anything!
Magazines will be for sale! Wine will be for free!
Please join us in this pre-emptive pagan event so that together we might end this endless yuletide squabbling, and begin again the beginningless pagan offering. Okay?
|Dylan Thomas with several invisible trolls searching his chins for an apple.|
- Dylan Thomas in a letter to J.M. Brinnin. This published in Dylan Thomas in America, which three out of three PageBoy Magazine editors agree is a very lovely and very trashy little book.