Friday, April 04, 2008

Friday

I don't read Robert Duncan systematically. I hit upon poems by chance, by a footnote in the Letters, take a couple at a time. On occasions it's as though you're being nudged (which I know sounds ridiculous, but still ...).

So this pops up early this morning:

"And does not the spirit attend secretly
the music that is hidden away from me,
chords that hold the stars in their courses,
outfoldings of sound from the seed of first light?

Were it not for the orders of music hidden
we should be claimd by the preponderant void."

(from ‘Four Pictures of the Real Universe’)

I could imagine Cornell scribbling that on the back of a donut wrapper and squirreling it away.

5 comments:

walrus said...

Wow. I’m persuaded to get my hands on a copy of the Letters. As usual, you have the advantage of me there.

Re your Workshop pieces: I’m impressed.

I’m not sure how useful it is for you to have feedback of the “I liked this one more than that one” variety – or how useful feedback is at all (it can take the wind out of one’s sails, in my experience), so I offer the following tentative responses. Don’t expect words of wisdom.

I felt “Reception”, while good, was a little too spelt-out for the reader for my taste. “Christening (I)” was great. The section (I-VIII) was the most Quay-like, I thought (somehow reminded me of The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer). But most of all a strong feeling (I was going to write “whiff”, but that sounds pejorative ((Beckett complained of the “whiff of Joyce” in his own early writings)) and that’s not at all my meaning here) of Beckett. Perhaps The Lost Ones or just the directions for Quad or something. “100 % Proof”: strong stuff, I thought. “Symbol” my personal favourite. Again, I was reminded of Beckett – the piece for Feldman, “neither”.

As you can see, I’m not great at giving feedback. Do you plan to submit them anywhere/publish?

Apropos of nothing much, Beckett’s poetry is in the process of being reappraised. It has been traditionally neglected in favour of the drama/prose, but there was a good piece by Philip Nikolayev in Poetry (Feb 2008) outlining how critical opinion is shifting. He mentioned a “forgotten masterpiece” called “Ceiling”, which I’d like to track down one day.

Yours,

Walrus

belgianwaffle said...

i) I really appreciate the feedback and I understand your reservations. In a way everyone has to carve their own path - I'm thinking of those famous Rilke Letters.

That said, when I look at my friend Alan - he did the picture - I'm envious of the group of people he has around him who'll give crits on his current work. One of the reasons, I suppose, why I plucked up the courage to ask Lisa J for some discussion.

Living here In Belgium, writing in English, I am far removed from the St Marks Poetry Project, London Writers' Forum, the - as I understand it - Cambridge 'Loop'. And so, again, one of the reasons to turn Blogger in an attempt to create a kind of 'community'.

Go back to my first Blogs and I'd never have dared put such work 'out to tender'. Now I'm thinking - well, what have you got to lose? One of the ideas I was formulating back in January was to turn the Blog into a monthly 'issue' - whatever I had written (& in whatever state of completion) would go online as a sort of commitment to writing (and spur to do more).

ii) The Duncan-Levertov Letters volume - I can't recommend it highly enough. It seemed pricey in the LRB bookshop a year ago - but I'm very pleased I bought it! Wouldn't Duncan have been a great Blogger?

iii) I concur with your opinion on the various texts - and, yes, the Beckett connection is interesting. I was steeped in Beckett between '81 and '85 - especially the novels. Looking back, it would have been healthier to have read more widely. I'm going to look back into texts such as 'Ping'.

Oddly enough, as I'm writing these sections I'm thinking in a more painterly way - take Ben Nicholson. Limiting myself to a certain circumscribed vocabulary or 'grammar' and seeing the variations that are possible (or not!).

iv) As for Beckett's poetry - d'you know the interview with Brian Catling in 'Parataxis' where he cites Beckett & Laurel & Hardy as major influences? (But I'll admit that it's the novels that I love - especially 'Watt').

v) re. publication - that's more than I can think of right now. We're heading into a rather pleasant time of year at school where the teaching day opens up as classes disappear. As Alan and I have agreed, the real challenge is to find a project which allows you to work for an hour on a daily basis. I think - fingers crossed - I might have done this with these texts. Then, in late May/early June I can see what can be shaped. I'm excited to be thinking beyond 'one-offs' and more in terms of series and the overall architecture of a volume. (If that doesn't sound presumptuous - it isn't meant to).

I'm more and more astonished that anyone finds the time to sustain the work and concentration necessary for anything of any substance.

vi) if you'd be prepared to put work up and develop this 'workshop' idea I think it would be great. However, I understand if that's not the way you want to go. It's taken me two, three years to open the door.

Thanks again,

The Carpenter

walrus said...

Dear Carpenter,

Apologies for the delay – ran out of spare time in which to think/write for a moment back there, but I seem to have fallen into a pocket of some now.

I know what you mean about having a community around you – it’s one of the reasons I was attracted to your blog. Like you I’m much less interested in the one-off poem (as Duncan says, that always has to finish with a flourish or some sense of occasion) & I’m hoping to write more freely in the serial mode. I think you’ve proved this blog is already a workshop, but as you predicted I’m not quite ready to submit anything to it. I feel I’m very much in transition & I’m not sure how long the journey will last. Thanks for the invitation, though.

I’m currently reading Daniel Kane’s ALL POETS WELCOME: THE LOWER EAST SIDE POETRY SCENE IN THE 1960s (Univ of Calif Press, 2003). I’m not sure if you’ve come across it, but it’s a good read: highly recommended. Kane really brings out the community aspect of the poetry – the Poetry Project at St Mark’s Church, as you say. You also mention wanting to create a blog ‘issue’ & the role of small, mimeographed magazines – like Fuck You/ a magazine of the arts – was crucial, according to Kane, in forging that sense of community.

The group mentality of the poetry of this period is really brought home by the accompanying CD of contemporary poetry readings/performances: the audience giggles, the relaxed, unjudgemental atmosphere & silly jokes . . . I’d never heard O’Hara read before. The camp exasperation of “oh Lana Turner we love you get up” is just exquisite.

Incidentally, Fuck You magazine was edited by a guy called Ed Sanders, who went on to form a group called the Fugs. Any knowledge of the Fugs – is it worth getting a CD or are they strictly for the dedicated? I thought perhaps their first album?

I’ve ordered the Letters btw -- & I’ve been waiting an age for Duncan’s Selected Prose.

Patience, Walrus. Patience.

belgianwaffle said...

Good morning, Walrus (and any other sea creatures that may be swimming by)!

As you'll have gathered, I, too, have been otherwise engaged and haven't got round to the Blog for a while.

No matter!

Today I will try to snatch some time to bring things up to date.

So, in reply ...

Daniel Kane: yes, I really like the book (and the CD). I read a sniffy article in the Chicago Review (I think) attacking it for a lack of theoretical rigour. That doesn't bother me - as you're saying, he seems to bring the whole scene alive and for that I'm grateful. (I think DK was also best man at Lisa J's wedding). It's a bit like people who attack Ron Silliman's Blog - here, in Belgium, I'm simply happy to have such a conduit.

As for Ed Sanders & The Fuggs (is it two or one 'g'?) I got a CD from the local mediatheque with bonus bits and pieces. For me, it's in the same general area as early MOI Zappa but without the musical guts.

I don't know Sanders' work in any great detail but he's obviously one of the key figures both for his own work and his encouragement of others. (Again, I think he was the person who tipped off Lisa J that she should write the Duncan biog.).

If you're hunting around for books - I've the sense you have access to a decent university library? yes? otherwise it's rather expensive trawling - then I'd track down the 'Angel Hair' anthology and '0 to 9'. There's also the lovely volume 'A Secret Location on the Lower East Side' which collects bibliographical material of the small press volumes. The covers themselves are fascinating.

Last, but not least, Peter Gizzi's Exact Change Yearbook (which includes a CD). I have the impression that this is now terribly rare and so I was lucky to track down a copy some years ago from the States. It has Spicer reading and Berrigan doing 'Red Shift'. Really, really good. Gizzi's interview with Michael Palmer is also enlightening - as much, I suspect, about MP as PG. (I am a great admirer of PG's work).

OK. This is the first instalment. Read the main Blog for news of Pierre Hadot & Spiritual Exercises!

Thanks for helping to keep the Blog afloat -

The Carpenter

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