Sunday, June 15, 2014


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Yes, things have been rather quiet on the Blog front for some weeks now - even more so when it comes to poetry. Which rather gives the impression that nothing's been going on when, in fact, behind the scenes, I've been spending many happy hours reacquainting myself with the works of Clark Coolidge. 

I'd forgotten quite how many of his books I'd assembled over the past ten years or so, always in the hope (belief) that one day I'd have the time to really get a sense of his writing, to get past the forbidding reputation that seems to have been erected around his name. 

Reading Tim Atkins' Horace in late April sent me back to the shelves to take down the Coolidge volumes & as I reread his pages on Kerouac all sorts of things started to come into focus. I decided to send an e-mail to Tom Orange who's published some essays online about CC & we had a very enlightening (for me) exchange for a week or so. Rapidly Coolidge has moved from a rather remote satellite in my poetic universe to one of the (for now) key suns exerting gravity on just about everything. 

So it's no great surprise to discover his friendship & collaboration with Philip Guston an artist that I spent a lot of time thinking about back in the late 1980s. Had I only - then - been able to make the jump from the canvas to the page many things might have been different. 

On Friday I went to the local Post Office to pick up the copy of Baffling Means that had taken a good three weeks to travel across the Atlantic. At 38 dollars from Alibris it was affordable (certainly compared to other price listings) but no one had mentioned the tax I'd have to pay for customs (a stinging 22 euros). Oof! 

No matter. It's a handsome volume published by - I think I am right in saying - Peter Gizzi's o-blek (can't do the proper characters in Blogger) editions. There are pages of CC's poetry interspersed with Guston pen & ink drawings which incorporate further texts & lines. It's fascinating & very revealing about CC's poetics (some of the texts seem to be from the Journal featured in the Michael Palmer anthology). The sort of book I'd love to show Jeremy Paxman as a way of proving what poetry is & can be. 

"A sentence is a collapse.
Time on itself. Lands. To resurface
and stun in."

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