Monday, June 23, 2008
RONALD JOHNSON: LIFE AND WORKS
Author: Johnson, Ronald
Pub Date: 01 May 2008
Publisher: National Poetry Foundation
Description from Small Press website:
Poetry. "I count Ronald Johnson as one of the defining peers of my own imagined company of poets, ageless and yet insistently specific to all one's life might seem to be here and now. The very title of his major long poem cycle, ARK--with its determining echoes, its senses of a contiguous, innumerable event, its measure of heart and time, all the wondrous, intimate, particularizing reflection and record--proposes the character of this work I so value"--Robert Creeley. "I have always thought Ron Johnson a terrific poet: everything he has written has surprised and delighted me"--Thom Gunn. "Poetry with a passion for exact, even scientific scrutiny"--Guy Davenport.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Haunted, they say, believing
the soft, shifty
dunes are made up
of false promises.
is the other half
of a conversation.
to the dead.
"The boys are doing really well."
nothing is so
until it has been witnessed.
the bits are iffy;
the forces that bind them,
Monday, June 16, 2008
Further to your thoughts re: Guest's thought on composition and poetics. Perhaps her "embracing an echo" is akin to your "tugging against closure."
Interesting that she talks about the "force majeure," a poem as force of nature that directs and connects all living things. This is what i was trying to do in Boreal Surreal. love the physicality of her description of how a poem emerges.
Wet and whining.. good poems insinuates themselves
into the (sub)conscious and onto the page,
demanding to be fed, nurtured
The phantoms are ideas that emerge out of ether, mist, air.
we know not where. but also in tandem with a memory, a word, an object:
"a knife a rope a book
The poem . the movement, charge, energy - that makes it zing - is a fragile thing. It can easily be undone in over polishing. I agree with muscular control, not sure about fastidiousness.
Timing, stuggle, risk, yes.. yes, and sometimes the poem hurries the poet.. then there is nothing to do but take the chance, follow the lead. The steps can be practiced later.
Monday, June 9, 2008
"-a stasis and / pull in the composition physical-"
Composition involves a pulling-in by the developing thing--the forming thing--a centripetal force--what the form demands (fetal), from one line or block or layer to the next, one moment to the next
"a stasis"--the moment before movement?
"remember, a contradictory tug phantom-like– / upon the environs of the poem–"
But there is also something beyond this inward-pulling thing. Her choice of "phantom-like" to evoke this other indicates a ghostly side to the process of composition. This aspect is a "contradictory tug"--it pulls from the uncanny edges of the poem--from the unsaid around the poem. "upon the environs" -- coming from beyond the immediate environs, like starlight. It contradicts the forming thing, it says, "Not yet, not yet" and tugs against closure.
Monday, June 2, 2008
Here is an intriguing "statement" of poetics that Barbara Guest apparently presented in 1998 at Naropa. It is reprinted in How2: http://www.asu.edu/pipercwcenter/how2journal/bg_memorybank/
How about some posts on her ideas?
A Reverie on the Making of a Poem, June 1998
Arrived at the terrain of her sensibility
–a stasis and
pull in the composition physical–
remember, a contradictory tug phantom-like–
upon the environs of the poem–;
think of poem going through these stages
balance and non-movement
always an inert force in poem to try to bring it back and force this on the
surface of poem
darkening of the page and then withdrawal
of darkening:gradually the page lightens,
the invisible heavinesslifted itself.
With no warning (from inside the text,
mind attached to the text)
method to elevate poem from surface
and attacked by dizziness of atmosphere!
In the attack of suspense; a masterful
development of plot and erasure.
The echo the words grant us on page and off!
sound of the last few words–;
they will be abolished and this new movement
embracing an echo,
only discovered here the poem
the timing of this substitution one ideafor another
Countdown!knuckle on the hand
the sentence covering it
with a fist, held loftily–
muscular control . . . fastidiousness
continual restiveness, also
timing supplant strong attack
struggle necessary–but not to let go
a blissful discontinuity
orders this estrangement of each
available word and the disinclination to advance (at
that point in time) or desiretohurry toward an abrupt
rushing or spectacular jumps over the hurdles–
as in conversation
do not hurry the poem
but take chances
motion, movement in poem
an advanced punctuation bursting from vases
into an arena of sound
the aroma continues as a cloud of invisibility shelters
there from center right:solid objects merciless.
what else can poem perform in its arena
the phantom of possible ideas
(maneuvering inside a volume)
a force majeure to shred the atmosphere
this fist its imprint almost
poet in charge
and all the whilemovement coalescing
with the strict idea–
Startling these maneuvers!
of idea and erasure.
not to lose sight of the ideas, and movement they must meet
not to tell all possible choices in poem