Poetry as Alchemy

    ...if 'everything happens so often that speaking of it makes no sense,' the poet must find ways of representing those happenings so that their actual feel, their texture is re-experienced."
     PageBoy quoting Perloff quoting Hejinian quoting.



PB in PN

Can I Get Piano Lessons?

     Our interview with Natalie Phillips has been reprinted in.Poetry Northwest. Check it out.


Is it Still?

     While doing anthropological "field work" in a remote section of the Brazilian outback, Claude Levi-Strauss handed out sheets of paper and pencils to a tribe of native Brazilians known as the Nambikwara. They had never seen or used paper or pencils before, had never written or drawn "aside from rudimentary decorations - the dots and jagged lines with which they adorned their gourds. After initially ignoring the paper, the Nambikwara began scribbling a series of wavy lines, from left to right across the page. Unprompted, they had begun 'writing.' The leader of the Nambikwara went one step further, requesting a notepad from Levi-Strauss. Quizzed on ethnographic points, he 'wrote' answers in the pad, handing his doodles to Levi-Strauss. When later, during bartering between two different factions of Nambikwara, the leader made a great show of 'reading' the list of exchanges and beneficiaries from a sheet of scribbles.
     "Somewhere in those scrawled lines lay meaning, not of the literal kind, but in a metaphorical sense. The Nambikwara had intuitively grasped the power of paper, notebooks, pens and markings in Western culture... The leader's approach had been a pragmatic one, slotting into an alien culture with a certain ritual fluency, trading symbols alongside beads, arrowheads and lengths of cloth. Writing, Levi-Strauss concluded, was first about power, and only afterward used for the purpose of aesthetic or intellectual enlightenment. Far from being mankind's crowning cultural achievement, it had initially been used to create hierarchies between the scribes and the illiterate masses. 'The primary function of written communication,' Levi-Strauss concluded, 'is to facilitate slavery.'"


Post No Post (Dizzy) / Elevator Music XIX

     "I see some guys try to transcribe my music on paper, but if you play it like that it will sound corny. That's because they hear notes that I didn't even play. It's there without being there. It's implied. And although people can't really hear it, they feel it. It's an auditory illusion."
          - Dizzy Gillespie

     How to create an "auditory illusion" in poetry? Double entendre is one way, but that is more concerned with meaning than music. So how to make one word, or a phrase, sound as if it contains other words. Words that aren't there. The equivalent of bending a note in music, or simultaneously playing different notes. To make words sound that aren't even there.
     Here is some elevator music to listen to while you figure it out:

All That Is Normal or Possible

if glassful is
the quantity a glass can hold
then how awful
an awl can be
it baffles the crows caw

indeed, what is
the quantity a crow can hold?
what lawful reasoning
determines the count of caws
their fullness?

     the blacker the better the richer the darker
     when it comes to a crows caw or coffee

somehow the sunken panels
in a ceiling or soffit
are in fact higher than
the ceiling or soffit itself

sunken, sunglass
the quantity the glasses hold
     of reflection, of light, of eyes
     of faces, cheekbones and rooms
of sunflowerful August afternoons

and what then simply of full?
the quantity an of can hold
a quantity that can be held
     full of full of full of of
the quantity of music
                that can be held


One of These Frogs Is Doin Its Own Thing

(can you find his frog?)

Frog - a wedge-shaped horny prominence in the sole of a horse's hoof.

Frog - A loop fastened to a belt to hold a tool or weapon.

Frog - An ornamental looped braid or cord with a button or knot for fastening the front of a garment.

Frog - A device on intersecting railroad tracks that permits wheels to cross the junction.

Frog - A spiked or perforated device used to support stems in a flower arrangement.