So, the next edition of my reading, the 10 most recent books that are poetry/lit.
- bottle rockets, issue no 30 has all kinds if things in issue. Haibun is a way of combining prose and a haiku in a memoir, travel thru life fashion. My favorite in issue is Glenn Coats’ The Song of the Lark which contrasts memories of Sister Wendy unpacking classical paintings versus one own’s experience standing in a gallery “I stood in fron tof the pieces of art and expected stories to emerge like light breaking on the horizon. Nothing happened.”
star upon star
I cannot connect
The juxtapositon between prose and poem is done right where there is an analogous connection but not an overlap in content or subject.
Later in the issue is a sweet piece by Michael Fessier called “Types of Haiku Now Trending in the Journals and Chapbooks: Classified, Simulated and Tweaked”. He counts 31 types from standard traditional to padded standard traditional, “my ex” variety to general indictment, “I-pretend-to-be-Japanese”, Pun Ku and Neo-Surreal/Dada/Gendai. It doesn’t cover everything but it gives a good poke at the barrel. Speaking of surreal…
- Martha Silano’s The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception (Saturnalia Books, 2011)
In my Belly, p. 12-13 is one of the poems that stopped me from riffling onwards to the next collection on the shelf.
Delightful poems. A lot of humour. The sort of book I hesitate to read because then it would be all over.
“Ours” streamrolls ahead, never knowing what will be said next but it will be baffling and somehow appealing. Even when she writes not of space and riffs and rips in space-time, or about sewing a dress, or time between that for kids and need for sleep, her angle is unique in being unified with the world at large without being overly fluffy or romantic about it. p. 82 “No refunds, no exchanges”
Across the yard, despite a fierce unrest,
I can’t help noticing the smudged chin
of an English sparrow, ululations
of cedar waxwings, robs slick
in the sloppy rain. If there were footprints,
they would be cloven. If this were an orchard,
the apples would glow like the polished floor
of my twenties and thirties. Not many hearts
have lifted like sparrows to the cliffs
above Pomme de Terre Lake, not many
have lived much closer than five doors down
from God. And yet I’m no girdle
on this galaxy’s expanding waistline,
and yet I’ve no sacred cows worth swimming
to the South China Sea and back for.
The smudged chin of the bird seems to pay attention and cherish. Such a small bird and the sense of noticing schmutz to rub off. Tempting to type the whole out for the re-pleasure of her odd connections. From floors polished like apples polished, from apple/pomme to pomme de terre, but not the potato but the lake. Pivot, pivot. But towards what? There’s a momentum in the mandala built.
Living not floors below god, but doors down the hall. Why would you swim for sacred cows? Do they ask that? What do your sacred things ask of you that you aren’t willing to do?
Nice cover image. From the information standpoint: baffling cover design. The author’s name is not on the front cover. Words in the cover art have almost as much weight as the title creating ambiguity of whether it is the title or a subtitle. Prominent on the cover is the title of the judge of a contest who liked the manuscript. Inside, the title of the press and its colophon/wordmark is more dominant graphically on the title page than the name of the book or author. It looks newbie press but their backlist goes back to 2002 and other covers don’t have such issues so don’t know what happened.
- Global Haiku: Twenty-five Poets World-Wide, edited by George Swede and Randy Brooks (Mosaic Press, 2000).
(I really want to take the hyphen out of that title.)
This is a standard classic of the big hitters such as Marlene Mountain, Michael Dylan Welch, Penny Harter, Margaret Chula and Nick Virgilio. A couple samples, p. 92 from Cor van den Heuval,
by the lawn’s edge
the dog barks at the darkness
then looks back at me
To keep on the dog theme, a haiku that many have memorized from Gary Hotham, p. 62
the dog out—
the stars out
There are essays on the definition and development of haiku that are also worth a read.
- Christina Baillie & Nicholas Power’s Reeds and their Shadows (Gesture Press, 2013)
Bilingual, Japanese and English, in something like but not dos-a-dos, I’m not sure which Japanese goes with which English or if they are more replies than translations. I don’t know if they are from deeply historical poems or contemporary.
come near me no more
what comfort do you bring me
you don’t care for me
lost in your nebulous thoughts
my local bakery means more
It seemed anytime history country song but then, the specifics of the last line could be far and long ago or here and now. Short poems, perhaps not tanka but emotional pangs and leaps like them, categorically I don’t know.
- David Collins & Otto Graser’s in twenty words or less (Black Squirrel Press, 1994) made a duo, Collins doing the comic verse and Graser making the illustration on the flanking pages.
Here’s Chutzpah which reminds me of 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School. There are object buildings which have civic function such as city hall, museums, churches and there are fabric buildings where people live that are the substance of the city. Fabric buildings don’t need to be set off in eye-catching angles and materials. Likewise poetry is the substance of living. All the poetry doesn’t need to be epic, ground-breaking, attention grabbing. It is the daily nutrition, not all heavy banquet food.
- Leigh Kotsilidis’ Hypotheticals (Coach House, 2011)
It took me a while to get around to this one. The poems are akin to Daphne Marlatt’s Rivering that’s next in the list. There’s a swirling in language play. It takes various forms. Despite what Murray Citron complained at in a poem at open mic, there’s quite a lot of form poetry being published. For example, p. 80
At the base of every brain sits the drain
to the heart. A siphon that strains to part
whiles from slain. Below is the jugular vein,
then a slender valve where strays, catalogued
and shelved as specimens, remind you to
tend to the rends and breaks between solid
and softer matter. Missed drifters slip by
to the muscles’ upper room, where as dashed
dories they slip under the hammering
tide. Some clamour, some stride to the organ’s
spongy shore, others, unmoored by amour,
drop to the pith’s lower floor. And just when
you think they can sink no more, what’s heard
but a dirge, its shambling bass, storied purrs.
A hammering sort of internal rhyme of extreme small scope of subject and phonemes. These poems too, like The Little Office of Immaculate Conception, tramp through nebulae as part of point of reference of perception.Walking through the woods, “Stars stampede though the canopy toward you. Nebulas’/ hands clutch at your elbow too tight.” (p. 82) Fit subjects for contemplation in poems include neuroplasticity by name as well as birds, not as particular nesting behavior or yellow warblers. The language is not grade school people’s poetry; it talks about cogitating not thinking, psychological damage, not hurt. When watch your stash is used, it is the part in italics as borrowed/overheard/other, not “support the hypocampus, the amygdala”.
It plays exhorts, rather than lectures “polish/your cerebral corvette”. It drags a trail of sparks that can leave you marvelling if there is something meant past play or just to put pachinko balls in motion and see what comes of “Days are three-legged and prone /to wander off” (p. 39)
- Rivering: The Poetry of Daphne Marlatt edited by Susan Knutson (Wilfred Laurier Press, 2014) (on Kobo).
It gives a good overview of her writing, taking from things in chapbooks to a play. Her writing isn’t about A-B linear narrative, playing in fragment and tends to loop around. The pieces are a collection rather than providing a smooth curve.
An essay on her embodied language poetics and contemplation on Olsen in the 60s was interesting. A lot of the poems are about her local, so boats, cafes, salmon fisheries and displacement/interment of Japanese in WWII but also love poems such as This place full of contradiction,
rain outside on
that street we
no umbrella, i
see your face
because i don’t
with being, co-
meet in these
far places we
find in each
other, it’s Sap-
pho i said, on
the radio, al-
She is fascinated by the way language and meaning unclicks and reclicks like lego. Any point isn’t linear but omnidirectional potential.
from Generations, generations at the mouth,
noun out of its
stuck edges and
into its occur
lost the verb in
our currency a
Paper is good. Don’t Buy Kobo for this. It’s all messed up. I don’t know what WLP did but each poem goes page 1-3 and restarts the numbering. There is a way to see where you are in the book overall but referencing is a headache. Clicking next page may send you back to the start of that poem, or the poem previous. It’s like reading in high wind. Depending on resizing the text, a stanza may disappear right in the middle of the page. Madness.
Most Kobo books tell you at the end how many reading sessions it took and how long in all. I like that. This one didn’t.
- Marthe Reed’s Philip Whalen’s Tulip (NousZot Press, Dusie Kolletiv, 2014) also works fragments but uses the page as physical map to experience such as December ? which strikes me as rather ballsy in way.
Just write down what you see taken straight up. Put on a page what was there. Let the reader’s mind embellish. Being all over the page, it forces a path and forces away from directed path both. Such as Sandra Ridley’s Counting House or the text it was inspired by, Robert Kroetsch’s The Ledger, the mandate to read stacked lines in a prescribed direction and rate is challenged.
- Robert Kroetsch’s The Ledger
Nothing is more true than the details if they are the right details. It rings true. Documents don’t need intervention, to be the source material and the poetry to be tertiary from it. There’s a weaving of active reading and what is read. It isn’t texts in competition to make contrasts in texture and tone. It’s a presenting, there’s this. And I suppose like Sister Wendy’s art talks, it’s not raiding the material of the past for stuff to reuse, such as using Roman statuary as rubble for a church’s basement. There’s an informed respect and conveying a bit along such as
arrivals: the stump fence
arrivals: the snake fence
arrivals: the stone fence
There’s not an unpacking. Much is implicit. Some is didactic of
departures: the trout stream
departures: the passenger pigeon
departures: the pristine forest
but what option is there? To rhapsodize about the forest primeval we are in when it is a rag of a patch left, nice as it is with its specimen trees and regimen of biannual pesticides? Or to talk only of the pesticides and loss? How to acknowledge what is in front of us and decide what is worth mentioning above the infinite number of possibilities in the universe?
I hope one day to examine family ledgers. My father in a dark fit between strokes burned what he had kept since the 30s of receipts, but kept the main books of sales records. My mother still won’t let me see his books. They are moved from where he had stores them for decades. She assures me they exist. Perhaps when I’m old enough? Would I qualify on retirement?
I notice the last ones she displays in what was his desk, but while she slept I opened a few and saw that she’d torn out every evidence of his handwriting. Only the unused pages remain. Will she burn all his papers before I ever get a chance to see. Useless, useless was his refrain for diabetic years. Mom speaks of her own papers and mentions she’ll give them all to an archive in Quebec perhaps. She won’t let me see any of them. None of anyone’s business but history’s memento. She also speaks of burning them all so they won’t outlast her. Naturally I hope she won’t.
- From Project Gutenberg, Forbidden Books of the New Testament which are more miracle-bent than the regulars and were booted out in early centuries but some used by gnostics or in eastern churches. Strange things. Devil possession being visible as dogs, snakes or dragons running out the body. In one story a woman refused to wear clothes which one one piece of evidence of devil possession. The other was that she stood at the crossroads and threw stones at men. The proper punishment would be to throw stones at her in god’s name of course. Because that would be different. But she touched the bathwater of the Babe and became ashamed of her nakedness so order was restored. Where to begin?
In the First Gospel of the infancy of Jesus Christ
11 Now it was winter-time, and the girl went into the parlour where these women were, and found them weeping and lamenting as before.
12 By them stood a mule, covered over with silk, and an ebony collar hanging down from his neck, whom they kissed and were feeding.
13 But when the girl said, How handsome, ladies, that mule is! they replied with tears, and said, This mule, which you see, was our brother, born of this same mother as we;
14 For when our father died, and left us a very large estate, and we had only this brother, and we endeavoured to procure him a suitable match, and thought he should be married as other men, some giddy and jealous women bewitched him without our knowledge.
Skip forward. (these are structured conveniently with a series of Cole’s notes verses then the expanded version of the notes.)
24 Hereupon St. Mary was grieved at their case, and taking the Lord Jesus, put him upon the back of the mule.
25 And said to her son, O Jesus Christ, restore (or heal) according to thy extraordinary power this mule, and grant him to have again the shape of a man and a rational creature, as he had formerly.
26 This was scarce said by the Lady St. Mary, but the mule immediately passed into a human
form, and became a young man without any deformity.
Mary gets to do a lot more. But what to do with a Child who would kill another kid who ran into him accidentally?
They cast the whole narrative of salvation in different light. Heaven was empty of formerly mortals except for 2 and hell was full and while Jesus was dead he broke into heaven and too all the dead. All went to heaven. No one left. Huh. Then he put Satan behind bars under the guardianship of Beezlebub who used to be second in command. Because Jesus was still annoyed at the whole tempting and torturing thing.
Very odd stories. I like the ones of Thecla, being like a female Daniel with more conversion-charmisma. Some books are more dry or redundant to the New Testament.
Mary’s Gospel contains the note:
“That it was the occasion of the death of Zacharias in the temple, that
when he had seen a vision, he, through surprise, was willing to disclose
it, and his mouth was stopped. That which he saw was at the time of his
offering incense, and it was a man standing in the form of an ass.
When he was gone out, and had a mind to speak thus to the people, Woe
unto you, whom do you worship? he who had appeared to him in the temple
took away the use of his speech.
Afterwards when he recovered it, and was able to speak, he declared this to the Jews; and they slew him. They add (viz. the Gnostics in this book), that on this very account the high-priest was appointed by their lawgiver (by God to Moses) to carry little bells, that whensoever he went into the temple to sacrifice he, whom they worshipped, hearing the noise of the bells, might have time enough to hide himself, and not be caught in that ugly shape and figure.”
So let me get this straight….the high priest wears bells to go into the temple because you don’t want to startle god by creeping up on him when he is in the form of an ass. Because a startled god strikes people dead, or get embarrassed.
Trippy. And this is the religion for which the Christian pastor would have it that Hinduism’s Ganesha is wrong. Because the Christian god is a shapeshifter not part-animal. Is that how it goes?
And quite a different take on Mary who said nothing in the protestant version but held these things in her heart. This version she’s parading around, helpmate of miracles, a 14-year-old married to a senior ne’er do well woodworker who Jesus has to fix the carpentry of because Joseph cuts once after mismeasuring. Not exactly what Christmas Eve stories usually convey.
More on the horizon. Hard to predict when but 3 books on punctuation history being read in tandem. As well as, you guessed it, poetry.