Earlier this summer, in an exercise comprised of equal parts curiosity, late-onset withdrawal from the master's, and some plain old-fashioned dithering about writing, I spent several days deconstructing a bunch of found poems. This resulted in much fun, and—more problematically—very many browser tabs that I have since not had the heart to close... I'm hoping this post will help with that. (So is the fan on my laptop.) Anyway and therefore, this is my list of good, bad and interesting things to be found (!) via “Lying Here,” a cento by Philip Carlsen:
A Copper Canyon broadside of Kenneth Rexroth's “Another Spring.”
Eleven by fourteen inches, twenty-five dollars, and a title in turquoise.
A poem for every Monday you meet (including and to start with, “The Middle Years” by Walter McDonald).
These are the dreams we knighted. These are the days we rented. These are the years we owned.
The bad pun that comes (whoa, there's another one) to mind, when you see how much of edward estlin is relevant, to certain Perspectives on Sexuality.
The first time
A poem a day from someone named Chris, somewhere in Connecticut.
The sound of nothing else and
the sound of something else and
the sound of some L things.
(Lamplights. Leaves. Love. A leash.)
The idea that universes can mosey.
And maybe even mooch.
What they were advertising on page 79 of a New Yorker from over twenty-six years ago:
Kneipp Herbal Baths (I bring nature into my bath), The Surrey Hotel (An uptown address that draws worldly guests of marked assurance), Meier's Sparkling Pink Catawba (How To Get No Kick From Champagne), and the National Nanny Placement Agency (Selectively Yours).
And how there are really two poems on that page, at least two poems. One is Merwin's, made up of you waking and sleeping and trees leaning and leaving. And the other is made up of some sixty words by John McPhee:
The clouds are very dark off the starboard quarter. With our lemons and lollipops and terry-cloth towels, our three thousand cases of wine, with our ninety drums of passion-fruit juice, our onions, umbrellas, bone glue, and balsa wood, our kiln-dried radiata pine, with our glass Nativity scenes and our peach chips, we are dead in the water.
The way some poems grandmother other poems into the world. The way some poems remind you of an evening in a housesit on the Aventine.
Also. That room in the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. And this line about Ralph Abernathy:
Long afterward, he said he remembered the smell of the aftershave he had on his hands, and a sound like a firecracker from out on the balcony.
What it feels like to browse among the titles—just the titles—of the Robert Bly Journals and Diaries Series at the Elmer L. Andersen Library of the University of Minnesota.
Thirty-two boxes. One shoe box.
For example, in Boxes 66 to 68, where the journals [...] are arranged by number assigned by Robert Bly, you have:
1: First six months after Harvard, 1950, undated
2: Three months in the woods, 1950
3: Lake Superior cabin in winter; Kabekona in spring, 1950-1951
3 extra: Library book; first return to Cambridge, 1951
4: First year in New York, 1951-1952
5: New York; the small room near the library, 1952
6: New York; last days in narrow room, 1952
7: Late 1952-early 1953, 1952-1953
8A: New York; Spring, 1953
8B: Spiritual Love, 1953
9A: New York-Cambridge, 1953-1954
9B: Cambridge; September and October, 1953
10: Eight months in Cambridge, 1953-1954
11: The first teaching time at Iowa City, 1954-1956 (Discusses letter received from John Berryman)
11B: The first time on the farm, 1955-1957
12: The fall after marriage on the farm, 1955-1957 (Discusses going to John Berryman's home in December, 1955)
13: First three months of 1956; Iowa City, 1956 (Includes many entries regarding the Duffys and gathering a first issue of a magazine)
14: Second six months in Oslo; Farm and New York, 1957-1958 (Perhaps the first entries regarding The Fifties magazine are included in this journal)
Boxes 69 to 82 are less magical—mostly titled in years, though with a few flickering exceptions (number 15 is Twenty months on the farm, and number 29 is simply, tersely, Work).
But then we come to Boxes 82 to 97:
The materials include bound volumes and loose sheets of paper that Robert Bly used to record his daily, personal accounts of his experiences, attitudes, and observations; as well as inspirations “on the spot” wherever Bly was, quotes and passages of others' works, self-analysis, and names and addresses of family members and friends. Some journals have poetry, prose and play passages; and some appear to be a means of organizing Bly's thoughts.
The bound volumes in this subseries are particularly beautiful artifacts.
Artifacts like these:
Five Year Diary, 1937, 1974
The Everyday Diary, 1938
Fourth small diary, Circa 1947-1950
[New York observations], Circa 1951-1954
Thoughts on My Movement, Circa 1951-1954
[Dream journal], 1952, undated
The loss, 1952-1953, 1955 ?, undated
Acting a Life, 1953
Notes for a poem on fall, 1953
The Book of Acts, 1953
The Color of Courage, 1953, undated
The Small Diary, 1953-1954
The Soul's Growth, 1953, 1955, undated
Looking back, 1953, 1955-1956, undated
Ideas on the Problems, 1953, 1955-1957, undated
Progress on books, 1954-1958
Artistic thought, 1955-1956
Work diary, 1955-1956 (Includes handwritten calendar of what was accomplished, and goals to be worked on while in Minnesota, Oslo, and Iowa)
[Reasonable poems:] The book of the old life, 1956, 1962, undated
Solitudes and concentrations, 1959-1963
A journal of two children, 1967, 1970, undated
Poem book, 1968, 1970-1971, 1981, undated
Where we are now, 1971, undated
First book of love poems, 1972-1973
Sound and study, 1972-1974
Long descriptions of reading, 1974-1975
Looking and naming, 1974-1976
Shack journal 2, 1974-1976, undated
Thought journal, 1974-1982
Poetry and sound, 1975-1978, 1980-1981, undated
Dreams, 1976-1983, undated
[Animus woman], 1977
Seeing Poems [journal] (1), 1980
Seeing Poems [journal] (2), 1980, 1985
Poem book, 1982-1983
Shame journal, 1986, undated
Miscellaneous prose, 1986-1987
Passive aggression, 1990
The Salmon in August of '93 with Micah, 1993 (Includes extensive passages about Robert Bly as father and relationships with various family members)
Journal; June to November, 1998 (Includes toast to Donald Hall for his 70th birthday)
Journal; the wreck, 1999 (Describes Robert Bly's car accident and recouperation)
Journal; late, 1999
A journal for dreams, 2001-2003, 2006-2009, undated
And finally, in that one Shoe Box. This:
My tiny notebooks (18), 1953-1958, 1964-1965, 1969, undated (Includes names and addresses, thoughts about poetry, poems, history, calculations, as well as journal entries.)
Talk about finding poetry.
Of course, that's just the Journals and Diaries series. The Elmer L. Andersen Library of the University of Minnesota also has a Robert Bly Correspondence series:
This series, the first of eighteen, contains correspondence to and from Robert Bly on such far-ranging subjects as poetry in the 20th century, Vietnam War protests, and the Mythopoetic Men's Movement.
All of a sudden you think of that line:
Reading my old letters I notice a secret will.
A poem (or several) for all the Tuesdays you can think of.
These lines, for two days in July, for other days too:
Where are they now? Everyone knows.
This bit from The Wind in the Willows, via The Writers Almanac:
The smell of buttered toast simply talked to Toad, and with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts on bright frosty mornings, of cosy parlour firesides on winter evenings, when one's ramble was over and slippered feet were propped on the fender; of the purring of contented cats, and the twitter of sleepy canaries.
It's all about loving things isn't it? Buttered toast and newborn calves and poems you've just met and poems you have always known. From the beginnings of the world. Move into what you want most to become.
Poetry once a day. No comments, no context. But still and still. And navigable sorrow.
The poem itself: where we are (for edward field). All of it.
The fact that Citizen Kane was Orson Welles' first film, which of course you knew. The fact that he was 25 when he made it, which maybe you didn't.
The sound of Hélène Grimaud, making sad lavish tenderness:
in a garden
among late-blooming roses
and dark cascades of leaves...
How Lunchbox Poems don't say much about who they are. But enough about how often. (Every day, and why.)
I knew we were all going to die
but not then, and not right away;
because in those days
there were more days to come.
I thought I could not
run out of them.
The fact that, before they were known as the Impressionists, Cezanne, Manet, Pissarro, Monet, Renoir and Degas were known as the Refuseniks.
The fact that Raymond Carver wrote poetry. (Find more. Find more!)
The idea that a poem is made of borrowed things—virtually all words are pinched, but that if it works, it is itself and nothing else.
And that what we want of being is what we want of art—to be a one-off, to be true.
(Also, this place. That moment, the first time, you read this.)
This essay, which, like almost everything in this list, I found only because I decided to Google every poem from which Carlsen had made his.
And I mean all of the essay; not just its beginning:
My compass keeps avoiding all the facts
To find that South is its magnetic mover.
(Walcott, A Map of the Antilles)
Auden’s dictum ‘For poetry makes nothing happen’ is familiar and often contested. Less well remarked is how the passage continues – ‘it survives / In the valley of its making where executives / Would never want to tamper, flows on south...’
I was reminded of this association of poetry with non-utility and the non-executive, and of both with ‘south’, when I read Michael Collins’s fascinating piece on ‘John Ormond in Tuscany’ (PW 35, 4). Ormond published his first volume of poems in 1943, and soon after burned everything he had written. It was a visit to Tuscany in 1963 which, in his own words, ‘broke the blockage that had kept me virtually silent for too many years’ and led to his writing ‘Cathedral Builders’ in ‘twenty minutes flat’. Thereafter, Ormond visited the small town of Cortona every summer to drink the white wine and write poetry. At home, he was a television man, an executive of sorts. In Cortona he felt able, in his Puccini-derived Italian, to declare ‘Sono poeta’.
And especially it's end:
He calls instead for a poetry which keeps faith with the places, things and people we live among, and in a discussion of Rilke he remarks, ‘His attunement to earth was not synonymous with love of father-land. He could embrace the being of trees because he had no roots of his own.’
And finally, there is The Gladdest Thing. A poem a day? A poem a week? It doesn't matter, there's enough.
In winter we close the windows
and read Chekhov,
nearly weeping for his world.
What luxury, to be so happy
that we can grieve
over imaginary lives.
May there always be enough.
[Via Giulio Cesare, Santa Marinella]
[domenica 03 luglio 2016 ore 08:22:08] [¶]