Monday, April 28, 2008

New find

"Daily Sonnets is also a time experiment but of another sort. In that book I was trying to invent time which did not exist. I experimented with writing in very uncongenial circumstances, such as wrapped in a towel after a shower for a time limit of one or two minutes. I was trying to find a way to work within that sense of rapid, noisy, interrupted time very much of the moment. This was a very liberating experiment and I recommend it to everyone. Whatever constraints you think you live within, in terms of what time you have to write, try breaking them. Write standing in line, half asleep. Write in every way except the ways which are habitual. In this way time and form open tremendously. Suddenly instead of having only an hour here or there, you have all of time."

(Laynie Browne interviewed http://www.bookslut.com/blog/archives/2008_01.php)

From what I can glean from her available poems online, Laynie Browne is taking her bearings from Berrigan and Mayer. So this is someone I'm adding to my Need To Read list.

Hear her read at http://andrewkenower.typepad.com/a_voice_box/2007/05/laynie_brown_pe.html

6 comments:

Anne said...

I notice that you read a lot of poetry (I am known among my friends for my exceptional powers of perception). I haven't really read any poetry since school and I would like to try some more. Could I ask your advice as to what you would recommend for a poetry novice or at the very best a false beginner.

belgianwaffle said...

Hello Anne

I don't want to sound trite but in a way we're all 'novices' in the sense that one of the challenges of reading poetry (or so it seems to me) is to keep a new mind. Sadly, the business I am in (ie teaching literature) encourages all sorts of unhelpful attitudes of proficiency and expertise. The poem on the page is obscured behind acquired habits of mind.

There is one poet I'd recommend to anyone - novice/false beginner/post graduate/Professor of Literature/any other category you could devise - and that is Emily Dickinson.

If you don't already have a copy left over from school days, go to Sterling Books and get the Complete Poems in the reader's edition edited by Franklin.

I rediscovered Emily Dickinson's work back in May 2006 (see my entry for the 18th) and wondered why it had taken me so long to read her seriously. Her poems alone will take you in many directions - and there are so many other poets who've taken their bearings from her.

I hope this helps.

Thank you for dropping by!

Cheers

The other Belgianwaffle

walrus said...

Yes, I liked Laynie Browne's reading -- esp the extract from "First Sea": "light shines through the relaxation of a leaf within water, accordion nature of thought revealed its pleats precipitated by a number of cells dividing" . . . Nice.

I note she was chosen by Alice Notley for the 2007 National Poetry Series award & by another strange coincidence, yesterday evening I read Notley's essay "American Poetic Music at the Moment" in COMING AFTER: ESSAYS ON POETRY (Univ of Michigan Press, 2005). I highly recommend it, esp. in the light of our previous discussion of the musical phrase.

She argues that interest in measure climaxed in the 1940s/1950s (Olson/WCW) and subsided in the 1960s & today it isn't mentioned. "In a bad mood I think everything sounds like prose," she writes, "from poetry in the New Yorker to bad Language Poetry. Or that everything sounds like chanting or yelling. Or that, simply, everything rushes on saying itself fulfilling itself, just in time for the next poem to begin, the next same-looking same-sounding mass of words."

Her close readings offer something of a cure for such modern sloppiness, one of the best being her reading of Berrigan's "Red Shift": "Ted worked very hard at these effects, was obsessed by this kind of metrical or musical closework." It's great stuff. Truly enlightening.

As for Emily Dickinson, last night I also happened to flip through JOHN ASHBERY IN CONVERSATION WITH MARK FORD (Between the Lines, 2003) & came across this:

FORD: Critics also like to link you with Emily Dickinson. Your poetries both embody states of epistemiological uncertainty, exploit the indeterminacies of language, etc., etc. Do you read her a lot?

ASHBERY: Not very much, though when I do read her, I like her, and I think I should read her more. I just came across an interview with the poet Dean Young, which expresses quite well my feelings about her. "Emily Dickinson gives me a headache, but there's definitely a greatness there and something about the language is totally engaging; but finally it doesn't sustain me."

W.

belgianwaffle said...

Yes, yes, yes! Great minds think alike etc. .

I think the Notley volume is really good - and her close-up reading of Ted B. is worth pages of other criticism. It gave me a real jolt.

I was also excited by her recent Collected 'Grave Light' - the early poems especially. Apparently she lives in Paris these days and I was trying to pluck up the courage last summer to go and track her down.

Interesting quote from Ashbery although it doesn't surprise me. i) I think he'd go for something a bit more 'camp' and less puritan-earnest; ii) she's a bit too obvious - JA always seems to love to search out the overlooked or the undervalued. Know what I mean? (I'm always a bit baffled by his love of John Clare.)

Anne said...

Thank you Belgianwaffle. I will do that to start.

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