SATURDAY, MAY 1
Loggernaut 5th Anniversary Party w/ readings by:
CHELSEY JOHNSON, RODNEY KOENEKE, BARRY SANDERS & MARY SZYBIST
7:30 PM, Urban Grind, 2214 NE Oregon St.
Friday, April 30, 2010
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Your telescope has been very, very successful. It has taken a lot of stunning pictures of space. Your telescope has been right in my heart. I love the way it’s shaped. I love the way it’s built. And, especially, I love how long it can transport pictures. Your telescope means a lot to me. I’m sure it took many years to build it, and it is very precious to you, and to me.”
Monday, April 26, 2010
—Leos Janacek to Kamila Stosslova, 13 November 1927 (trans. John Tyrrell)
Monday, April 19, 2010
David Young’s translations of the Canzoniere—all 366 of 'em—are remarkable for the way they succeed at combing Petrarch’s medieval Italian into direct demotic English that also approximates the shapely, measured elegance of the form for which he’s famous. Young creates the effect by putting caesuras where the rhymes ought to be, so that you get a feeling of completion at the ends of lines without disrupting the push into the next syntactic unit. The result is that meaning slops freely, almost conversationally, across the sentences while the individual lines preserve a sense of being elevated and formally “wrought.” It might be this combination of colloquial intimacy and technical brio that accounts for the longevity of the Petrarchan sonnet, the most familiar form to survive the Renaissance. Young sheds light on that, too, arguing for Petrarch’s Canzoniere as a sequence as deliberate and epistemologically sharp as Dante’s Commedia, but one that approaches the question of how to narrate the progress of a self through time in a more modern way, relying on echoes, resonances, and readerly inference rather than architectural rigor.
The notes are also helpful and unobtrusive, without a lot of scholarly chrome and fenders, and not a footnote in sight. A great introduction to Petrarch’s under-read achievement.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
I’m feeling a little like Nada’s feeling about reportage these days; that if you don’t say something, however inadequate, time’s U-pipe gets the better of our fleeting ululations. I’ve fallen out of the habit of writing down lines at readings, so no anchor to my impression that the Kemp/Buuck reading for Tangent on Saturday was one of the best in recent memory. Kemp’s delivery was as disarming as the poems, which were “about” friendship and affection and “double consciousnesses” and coyly initialed socio-aesthetic filiations in a way that had me thinking of O’Hara for no good reason except they were so immediately pleasurable. He also managed to pack the place with students, colleagues, and well-wishers who embodied some of the interpersonal energies celebrated in the poems. Kemp’s here for the painters, but I hope he’ll do time with the poets now he’s in town.
David Buuck, a close friend of Kemp’s, kept the night rolling with a performance of “The Jhoke” section in The Shunt, a piece built from puns on the venerable “man walks into a bar” routine, which he launched by literally walking into the bar, shuffling down its edges, exiting, re-entering, draping himself on a barstool, dropping to the floor, and finally crawling his way back to the mike, keeping up all the while a stuttery patter that circled around poetry and citizenry in wartime. After that, he asked an audience member to shuffle a set of paragraphs containing sections of an autobiography centered on a relationship he had before he became a writer. I think it’s John Freccero who argues that Dante’s Commedia is the prototype for all autobiographies written since, where the person the life describes ends up converted into the author who’s currently describing it, so that the real subject of every autobiography is the progress that made possible the conditions of its own writing. Buuck’s piece cannily played off that assumption, using phrasal iterations and variations on fixed bits of syntax to tweak the usual “then I was, now I am” time sense the form usually imposes, shuttling the narrative fulcrum backwards and forwards across the sequence through a kind of architectonic horseplay designed to restrain “narrative theory” from topping “narrative practice.”
Buuck’s reading had lovers bridled like horses, and Kemp’s a rabid squid nailed to someone’s face, so the night also helped firm up my feeling that the conjunction between sex, animality, and violence is somehow the secret engine behind contemporary poetry, at least the part of it I feel like writing about in abbreviated posts like these.
Monday, April 12, 2010
I wrote a short piece about Weiner’s Code Poems, with a brief reference to the play, for the last Orono conference. Another Orono paper, one of my favorites, was Rob Halpern’s on Bob Perelman and Bruce Boone, “Restoring China.” It’s up in an expanded version at the Bob Perelman Feature (“300 printed pages”!) Kristen Gallagher just edited for Jacket.
Following all the links in this post will consume an estimated 4.5 hours of office job.