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Vincent Katz
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Tony is always at the top of his game. Great choice, Terence. Terrific photo of the author as well.
Great to read this one again!!
Fantastic! Berlin is a genius. Love Sinatra doing Blue Skies.
Just read this piece to my dad. When I got to the part about the best pitcher he’d ever faced, I paused before saying his name, gestured to my dad, and he supplied the name, “Sandy Koufax.” I’m a huge McCarver fan. I think I have BASEBALL FOR BRAIN SURGEONS somewhere, and Tim appears (as announcer) in a World Series poem of mine.
I love this poem. It happens simultaneously with what it is about. You have to read it to understand it, unlike many poems, which you can get without reading. I had to look up "shanked" and am glad I did. Thank you BAP & thank you Susan!
Edwin Denby's writing is always surprising, especially on multiple readings, and it feels intensely accurate. He causes you to see anew, the critic's greatest gift, even something ostensibly from long ago.
La Vita Nuova is a work that endlessly attracts me, and which also inevitably disappoints me. I go to it expecting to find the answer to that timeless question: what is the essence of burning passion? Then I find that Dante's personality is too removed, in more ways than one, from my own, and no doubt from that of many contemporary readers. Montale was right: Dante is not a modern poet. Maybe not a love poet, as we are accustomed to think of them. I would go back in time, or forward, to find the ones that speak to me. Still La Vita Nuova is a remarkable, unique, work by a brilliant poet. I very much appreciated Robert P. Baird's fascinating look at it.
Hi Theodore, thank you so much for your very pertinent comment! And also for the link to your interview in BOMB with Kristin Prevallet. It's great to see your work there and to read about your collaborations with Amiri Baraka.
I should say too that Greg is a drummer himself, adding further depth to his appreciation of the rhythmic complexity.
Just checking this out now. Glad it came in on my BAP radar. Listening to the session reel now. I'm at 12:04. I thought I knew everything of Miles, especially the fusion period, which is my favorite. I think it's only in recent years, with many more releases of complete sessions, that a wider audience is coming to appreciate the density and complexity of the fusion work. This rehearsal though is a goldmine! Scholars and fans everywhere will pore over this recording and others like it. Your poem brings all this to light, but that's an ancillary function. In essence, your poem is a miracle, as it transcribes the listening experience. It is really in the moment, a New York School work for sure, and also one of more Black Mountain like investigative poetry. Writing that makes me think of how important Miles was to Robert Creeley, among others. Creeley said he learned a lot from Miles's pauses. So Kudos to Greg! Thanks to Terence. And thank you for alerting me to the egregious lack of a Miles festival at WKCR. I've just written in support of the cause!
This is a beautiful poem Michael! It is brave and poignant, like all your work, and at the same, again like all your work, you let your musicality take the guiding role; you turn lament into song. Thanks and bravo!
Thank you for sharing your mother's story David. The challenges people had to face in those times are incomprehensible to me. Your mother was a very kind and strong woman! Xx
Terrific poem!! Congrats Jeff - & thank you to Terence for highlighting it.
Robert and Sarah, thank you for your comments. "The Forgetting" is powerfully complex poem. Thank you for sharing that great recording of it. It mentions Pound and reminds us that he and Eliot, among others, suffered from the same problem Baraka did, and it affected their poetry, and consequently our reactions to it. In regard to "Somebody Blew Up America," I would again suggest that a reading of the entire poem reveals a querulous, maybe paranoid, mind, posing questions regarding any number of tragic abuses, including: Who put the Jews in ovens, and who helped them do it Who said "America First" and ok'd the yellow stars Who killed Rosa Luxembourg, Liebneckt Who murdered the Rosenbergs And all the good people iced, tortured, assassinated, vanished Many tormented questions are asked in this poem, including the passage that most offends people, which I would again note refers not to Jews but to Israeil workers and Sharon.
Terrific poem Bill! Kudos! And thanks to you both for including the pic of Beverly!
Thank you for the opportunity, David!
Kenneth, I did indeed know Frank O'Hara when I was a child. I know some poets and others not so much. I heard Baraka read a number of times but didn't know him personally.
Thank you for the openness & generosity of this comment Michael & for allowing us to catch up with you for a minute!
Thank you for your comment Maria! "Torture" is a word McClure keeps coming back to, and it always has multiple connotations, such as those you suggest.
Thanks Michael! I've been thinking about you while writing these. Then today I thought, "Michael and Michael."
Thank you Alan for this very meaningful and heartfelt comment. What you write illuminates something that may not be as well known about Michael as his literary achievements — his generosity and capacity for friendship.
Tomorrow, at the California Shakespeare Theater, in Orinda, California, there will be a memorial to poet, playwright and thinker Michael McClure, who passed away in May of 2020. Along with Diane di Prima, of all the great poets we have lost in the past few years, Michael for me defines an era. It’s funny to think of it now, but it’s McClure and di Prima who somehow stand for a whole experiment in poetry and living that remains vital to me, and I imagine always will. I think it is partially the integration of their poetry with a way of thinking about living that is the key to their vitality. In his introduction to the first edition of Ghost Tantras, published by City Lights in 1964, McClure wrote: I WAS HERE AND I LIKED IT! It was all O.K. I suffered. There were scents, and flowers, and textures, beautiful women. I was a handsome man. I invented love. I radiated genius for those who saw me with loving eyes. I was happy — I laughed and cried. Constantly new sights and sounds. I trembled and sweated at the sight of beauty. I laughed at strong things because I loved them — wanting to kick them in and make freedom. When I go I’M GONE. Don’t resurrect me or the duplicates of my atoms. It was perfect ! I am sheer spirit. Tomorrow, poets, musicians, publishers, friends will celebrate this poet who some link to Shelley and Lawrence, and who I see as a human being able to intuit his living on earth in relation to all other living beings, and simultaneously to flesh that out in relation to the beauty, and sometimes terror, he sensed in the arts of painting, music, dance, theater. He wanted to reach most of all, to reach out, to resist, to feel the softness of the couch beneath his lover and himself, the dissolving of inside and out, the hummingbird, the bombs falling on Cambodia, consciousness creating and destroying itself each instant. As a kind of parting gift, Michael left us Mule Kick Blues and Last Poems, published this year by City Lights. Editor Garrett Caples’ account of how the book was put together makes clear both McClure’s fastidiousness when it came to form and his openness to such questions as sequencing and grouping poems. A sequence of four “Death Poems” in a section called “MORTALITIES” evinces one of the most joyful attitudes toward death I’ve seen in poetry, something perhaps not surprising to readers of McClure, but still a fantastic thing to have: TO GROW OLD IS A JOY PRECEDING THE BIG ONE. Death is a dark chocolate cake, sweet, and filled with deep blue tortures. Remember Michael tomorrow, remember joy, remember poetry. Continue reading
Posted Sep 17, 2021 at The Best American Poetry
Congrats David! Can’t wait to get a copy!
In 1928, André Breton published the novel Nadja, loosely based on a brief affair. Text from the back cover the Grove Press edition, translation by Richard Howard, calls the novel “the story of an obsessional presence haunting his life” and goes on to state, “The first person narrative is supplemented by forty-four photographs which form an integral part of the work — pictures of various ‘surreal’ people, places, and objects which the author visits or is haunted by in Nadja’s presence and which inspire him to meditate on their reality or lack of it.” Breton invented a genre, the book as photographic prose poem, which has found new life today. In Breton’s day, taking all the photos and having them printed and readied for publication were arduous tasks; today all that is almost an afterthought. Some creative artists today have been stimulated to try to reinvigorate the photograph in its relation to text, thereby heightening both the potential of image, usually produced via that mundane accessory, the smart phone, and the text, which often lingers in some nebulous zone, neither poetry nor prose, a different gambit from the blending of the two that entranced French authors last century. When Claudia Rankine used photos in her epoch-marking Citizen, the images were usually in the mode of illustrations, or jumping-off points for her verbal manifestations. In her follow-up, the massive and in some ways more experimental Just Us: An American Conversation (2020), the photos are still illustrative, often historical in nature, but they are simultaneously more deeply embedded in the book’s meaning. A more experimental approach, one with deeply satisfying results in terms of the co-habitation of word and image is s*an d. henry-smith’s Wild Peach, published by Futurepoem in 2020. henry-smith is an artist and writer, and everything about Wild Peach makes it clear the book has been thought about as an object in its entirety. The endpapers and dividers are a dusky mustard yellow. The typography and layout of the titles is raw and energetic. Eager to get to the first section, “in awe of geometry & mornings,” one turns the page and finds a centered photo of a hazy view of a dried-out field being moisturized by the obscuring fog above it. Turning the page again brings us to the book’s first text, “dirty nails,” which begins, “eat me Infinity Serpent High Priestess of Sun the flowers we ate went straight to my hips rosy red w/ sweet water linen draped I feel so squishy today…” An erotics of the word reminding me of de Kooning’s erotics of paint is quickly palpable. Yet this short text ends surprisingly, “…I inhale light dirty pupil learns today how mud purifies & an increased sensitivity to nightshades I lift my head from the train tracks it is nice to sweat it reminds me that I am open whether I like it or not the conditions will decide”. This book is open, “dirty nails” beseeches almost that, despite everything not in our favor,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 17, 2021 at The Best American Poetry
Thank you for your comment Tony!