Books I got* in May
First of all, this lovely and astonishing chapbook by Marni Ludwig, picked by Susan Howe for the 2011 Poetry Society of America chapbook fellowship:
One of the best things about being in an MFA program is that you get to know actual poets who are actually amazing who actually go on to publish things in beautiful ways. I was in workshop with Marni last year and completely in awe of her. You can read the title poem at Jerry Magazine and purchase a copy of the chapbook here.
Also look out for her first book, Pinwheel, picked by Jean Valentine for the 2012 New Issues Poetry Prize.
Other poetry I picked up in April:
This is the 1974 New Directions edition of Helen in Egypt, which was first publised by Grove Press in 1962. I am in the midst of reading it and it is spectacular. It begins: » Read the rest of this entry «
PAUL SCHMIDT ON A WORD RIMBAUD USED OFTEN: SEASON — SAISON
All periods of time have ends to them, and these fatal endings we anticipate. A period of time–a day, an hour, a year–and this will end, we say; all this will end, the season will turn, and all will be over. We look in vain for some eternal moment, for happiness, felicity, that state of bliss that will go on for ever and ever. Is not happiness defined only when no term to its extent is imagined? So Rimbaud thought, it seems to me. His seasons are those stretches of time that open unawares and close painfully in our lives. That summer, those two years in the city, this love affair, that month in the country–these are the true, the organic epochs of our lives; the dates that mark their endings are our true anniversaries. Are not these the seasons Rimbaud wrote of: the implacable turning of season, and the denial of happiness implicit in their movement?
Aptly, spring has begun. The sun is hurting. And I have just turned in my thesis.
LIST ONE: BOOKS PURCHASED IN MARCH
First set: Works by Beverly Dahlen, my latest, and certainly an, enduring obsession
- Theresa Hak Kyung Cha: Dictee (1982)
- Martha Collins: Blue Front (2001)
- Brenda Hillman: Cascadia (2001)
- Ed Roberson: City Eclogue (2006)
- Cole Swensen: Ours (2008)
- CD Wright: One with Others (2010)
- Renee Gladman: To After That (Toaf) (2008)
- Sister Bartolomea Riccoboni: Life and Death in a Venetian Convent: the Chronicle and Necrology of Corpus Domini 1395-1426 (2000, tr. from the Italian by Daniel Bornstein)
Gladman’s To After That: This book made me angry in a way that no book should ever.
This book is part of the Atelos project which aims to publish ‘under the sign of poetry, writing that challenges the conventional definitions of poetry’ and which is curated by Lyn Hejinian and Travis Ortiz. I’ve read one other book from this series — Ed Roberson’s City Eclogue — and quite enjoyed it, and I certainly don’t have a problem with the aim of this project. It seems actually very necessary. I do, however, have a problem with Toaf: it’s glib and what it lacks for in intellect, it makes up for in inane posturing.
The bio on the cover of the book says: ‘Since the early 1990s, Renee Gladman has been collecting problems in writing; beginning with the problem of the person, she has, in the duration, gone on to explore those of time, place, and translation. These problems have occurred as events of the city, in the language of identify and confusion.’
Big questions, but it seems that every point, Gladman has reduced them to very simple ones: Is there a clear separation between what one writes and what one lives? [No.] Do places we live in significantly impact what we write? [Yes.] Must narrative always be linear? [No.] Is it allowed for an unfinished work to be published and read? [Of course.] Is it allowed for a work of fiction to be less than the prescribed 50,000 words? [Yes.]
It’s not that these simpler questions shoudn’t be answered or that they don’t have complex answers. But in this case, the answers are very simple and obvious. » Read the rest of this entry «
- Mary Jo Bang: Elegy (2007)
- Lucie Brock-Broido: A Hunger (1988)
- George Oppen: The Materials (1962)
- Tomas Tranströmer: 17 Poems (1954, tr. from the Swedish by Robin Fulton)
- Marguerite Duras: Écrire (1993, French)
- Richard Hugo: The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing (1979)
Yes to all of them. It’s just one of those months.
A couple of extra notes:
- The Hugo I read in preparation for my first teaching semester at Wash U. I’m teaching a Poetry 1 class, meaning my students are all beginners in poetry. But they are enthusiastic and lovely. They read the first two chapters of The Triggering Town and loved it. I recommend it to all teachers and students of poetry.
- The Duras is a book I partially read a long, long time ago, when I was studying French (which I should start doing again). I started it again for a translation workshop I took in the spring. I translated about half the book (three drafts). Then over the summer I worked on a first draft of the rest of the book. I’m stuck with the remaining twenty pages, in which Duras talks endlessly about how she watches a fly die on the wall. It’s the worst piece in the book, which is a hard thing to reckon with when you’re attempting a translation. The other pieces are pretty wonderful though. Hopefully I can do something with the translations.
- OK, couple plus one point: So I started reading Lucie Brock-Broido over the summer because I knew she would be a visiting professor in the fall. Reading A Hunger, I fell in love with her, and when she visited, I got to introduce her at her reading. This was last Thursday and it went off well. Lucie is an amazing reader and wonderfully generous in person as well. Then I got to have dinner with her and three of my poetry teachers — weird. I think I ate three bites of food.
So yes, horribly lax with writing down my thoughts about my reading, which is the whole point of this blog: to keep track of and force myself to articulate my thinking about books I read. If you have questions about anything, please ask. I’ll pull out my notes. If I have notes. Which I sometimes do.
If it were possible to imagine an aesthetic of textual pleasure, it would have to include: writing aloud. This vocal writing (which is nothing like speech) is not practiced, but it is doubtless what Artaud recommended and what Sollers is demanding. Let us talk about it as though it existed.
In antiquity, rhetoric included a section which is forgotten, censored by classical commentators: the actio, a group of formulae designed to allow for the corporeal exteriorization of discourse: it dealt with a theater of expression, the actor-orator “expressing” his indignation, his compassion, etc. Writing aloud is not expressive; it leaves expression to the pheno-text, to the regular code of communication; it belongs to the geno-text, to significance; it is carried not by dramatic inflections, subtle stresses, sympathetic accents, but by the grain of the voice, which is an erotic mixture of timbre and language, and can therefore also be, along with diction, the substance of an art: the art of guiding one’s body (whence its importance in Far Eastern theaters). Due allowance being made for the sounds of the language, writing aloud is not phonological but phonetic; its aim is not the clarity of messages, the theater of emotions; what is searches for (in a perspective of bliss) are the pulsional incidents, the language lined with flesh, a text where we can hear the grain of the throat, the patina of consonants, the voluptuousness of vowels, a whole carnal stereophony: the articulation of the body, of the tongue, not that of meaning, of language. » Read the rest of this entry «
- John Haines: The Stone Harp (1971) — Actually read this in June.
- Cate Marvin: World’s Tallest Disaster (2001)
- Alice Oswald: Woods, etc. (2005)
- Roland Barthes: Camera Lucida (1980, tr. from the French by Richard Howard)
Last month I was weepy over the fact that I had read only two books. Turns out it was actually three, and the third, John Haines‘s The Stone Harp, was a lucky find in a London used bookstore that I hopped into on the way to the airport. Mine is the British Rapp & Whiting edition, which is lovely, but perhaps not as lovely as the original American Wesleyan one:
In American poetry, there seems to be this categorisation of insider and outsider poets. » Read the rest of this entry «