I'll be hanging out at my new diggs:
Thursday, August 9, 2012
Derek Bailey is the only artist from whom I have ever sought an autograph. He signed my copy of his book, Improvisation: Its Nature and Practice in Music. The occasion was his playing in an intimate setting near where I was living in 1999. I cannot say the sounds he produced that night, the only time I ever heard him live, were transcendent. There were no great moments that stand out in my memory. Bailey was in a very relaxed mood. I would almost say he was withdrawn, as if he were playing for himself. It was a meditative hour, and I was very happy to be there. Afterward I approached the small merchandise table. As I recall I was the only one who did so. Bailey, I imagined, looked at me with some curiosity. A tall man, he was happy to sign the book. I think his companion was even happier, or at least relieved, that I bought a few CDs. I wanted to buy more. I wanted to give the man a gold bar. His inspiration has been incalculable. Afterward I wrote this poem:
I shook the hand that shook
the strings attached to satellites
reporting on the states of things
whether dull or sharp
heavy or light
droll or felicitous.
The hand was open
as a smile
when one is pleased
simply to have a seat
a few moments of
all there is
there has to be.
Saturday, July 14, 2012
Poetry should be made by all
Try this at home:
If the skin fits,
if thine eye offend thee,
if you can’t stand the heat,
if you’re hearing voices at night,
if you have to ask,
if you have to tell,
if your mother’s a dog and your father’s a fairy,
if you’ve fallen and you can’t get up,
if you’ve tried counting to 10 and taking deep breaths,
if you’re too young,
if you’re too old,
if everything they’ve told you is a lie,
if your plate is full of Happily Ever Afters,
if you sleep with a bat and dream of a field,
if you’ve reached the top rung and it’s covered in thorns,
if the only thing left is to take all away,
give all away, go
Apply evenly at all hours.
If swallowed induce vomiting.
Note: This poem is posted for today's French themed prompt at dVerse Poets Pub. Ducasse, who is one of my favorite French poets, wrote the long prose poem Maldoror as Comte de Lautréamont and Poésies under his own name. Poésies is very different than Maldoror, and yet just as strange. It consists largely of rearranged (usually inverted) maxims by famous French writers. "Poetry should be made by all" is the best known sentence from the work. I generally resist "explaining" my poems (sometimes I don't understand them myself, in the sense of transcribing this understanding in a rational discourse), but since (I hope) I'll receive more visitors than normal, having linked to the pub, I've decided to add a few words about the odd appearance of this poem. First off, it couldn't possibly be more odd than the appearance, in the 1870's, of Lautréamont/Ducasse's works, which foreshadowed so much of modern literature. One of the essential ideas promulgated by Ducasse's work is that the possibility of thinking creatively and independently depends on constant vigilance with regard to all of one's encounters with the discourses, spoken and written, of others, as well as diligent attention to all of one's own uses of language. As poets, language is ours to use, we must not be used by it, even when we are unsure of everything, even when we are overcome with despair. Just as the church is not the building, poetry is not an end in itself. We inhabit the forms of poetry from within. They are ours to wear, modify and discard. They are not sacred, and poetry is not sacred. But what we might call the human soul is. Everyone should come to know this. Power to the people.