Distribution Automatique

Friday, April 25

"Who has not sat anxious before the curtain of his heart?" It's interesting how certain lines of poetry becomes touchstones for one's entire existence. Too often one thinks of them after the fact. Now the heartstrings are getting tugged in two directions: one towards the reading I am giving tonight, and the other towards this blog. I should be preparing for this reading, but what I want to do is write this blog. Aside: are we really getting used to the word "blog"? It's like a person's name. If you love the person, eventually you will become fond of the name. I expected this. Affections work like warmth, they permeate everything they touch. This is partly how Stephanie Young's writing emanates its charm, I think, gathering affections into a momentum that carried me, the reader, straight into the heart of the Mayakovsky site she recommended. I watched it open like a flower in stop time and thought about the Mayakovsky-Brik letters. Come on, you knew the blog would be an easy win tonight just like you knew you would come to love the word blog, even as many of us immediately grasped desperately for another term as we knew we could never totally love this word that looks and feels like a toadstool in the imagination. Nevertheless, an affection develops. Well, Stephanie, I have no idea how 19 postcards could vanish in thin air. I found out I could go down to the G.P.O., the general postoffice around Penn Station and file a form to see if your poems are in the postoffice letter morgue.(Another aside: this Rorem piece playing right now on WNYC -that sounds like a String Quartet- is lovely, haunting and, at moments, powerful. You can hear the way he loves Debussy in this music. I guess WNYC won't put the whole 5 hours on its site. Or maybe they will...) What do you say to a poet who has just found out that 19 of her postcard poems disappeared into thin air, when she wanted so much to see them get to their destination? Sure, we are poets and we know what happens to lost poems. They mutate into found poems, hundreds, thousands, of them. I won't say "millions" that's Jordan's. Oh yeah. That's where I came in, Rilke: "Who has not sat, etc..." Maybe the biggest challenge for a poet living in this godforsaken culture is to remember that the heart of the action is not on the material level. So I wanted to employ that idea in the service of reassuring Stephanie that something is lost but all is not lost. Sure she knows all is not lost, but these little tykes are gone and she was well on her way to loving them, I'm sure. That was the closest they ever got to me, or you. It's amazing what a person can put out there and how, when its manifested as a strong medium for the transfer of poetic energy, how palpable it is in every phoneme, in every phrase tossed off, as when reading "Well Nourished Moon." You were so surprised when I wrote to you and told you I had read the archives at your site. You said you put them there so you shouldn't be surprised if someone reads them, but it was as if I had walked into your room without knocking on the door. But little irritability, no annoyance, never any anger, not a trace, never in a hurry to disappoint, either, reluctant to criticize, to hurt, eager to share affections, interests, observations, one quickly emerging out of another. But who knows, maybe they'll still find the poems at the "dead letter office." You know I'm going to try. Why does the name summon up such anxiety? Dead letters. And how does one mourn for so many lost poems? Well, you write about it, the first thing you did, immediately, on WNM. This actually stunned me, it was stunning! Moments after I knew, everybody knew, well the few of us that read these things knew, but it was "public" anyway. Why was it then more sudden, more breathtaking? Obviously, it immediately ate away at whatever denial mechanisms I was mustering. And, it called out for a response, which I am doing right now, a blogged response! You said right away it would take a few days to get over this. Sure, I said all the right things in a quick email, that may have held you for some of the morning. But then...very hard to say goodbye to something that took so much work, and something you were sending to join someone else's work that you yourself had encouraged (my part of the collaboration). Hard not to be sad about this tonight. And it reminds me of the way Yahoo on your home computer ate so many of your letters. In your letter to me you said the post office had taken your postcards and "eaten them." Well that's a damn well nourished post office! Of course what I wanted to say was: "There will be many more, Stephanie." But it is not particularly helpful to try to cheer up someone who has such work to do to sadly let so many creations so carefully nourished go. And more so, because the poems themselves were messages and those messages may never make it to "sent mail." Anyway, Toni says it must be a bad alignment in the stars. In fact, Elaine Equi, whose mate, Jerome Sala I am reading with tonight, told me that two people she had been scheduled to read with over the next few days have called from California and cancelled out on her today. One was Cole Swenson and the other, Barbara Guest. So Elaine reads at the Zinc bar tonight at 6:30 with a surprise guest, I read with Jerome and Rachel Levitsky at 7:30 at the Ceres Gallery. And on Wednesday Elaine reads at the Poetry Project with a yet to be announced guest. There are like 10,000 poetry events tonight, including Jim Behrle's group reading at MIT in Boston. He posted a request on his blog that whoever gets his MIT group reading ad into the Poetics List first gets a prize. Well, everybody knows Jim works at Wordsworth in Boston so you can guess what the prize would be. So three people, including me posted and I was last. Stephanie! Maybe all of us Stephanie fans should do a poetic seance and try to pull these poems back out from the other dimensions where they went to escape us just now for some reason. So, what am I going to read tomorrow? Well for one thing, some poems from my part of our collaboration, that's for sure. I don't think Stephanie would mind very much if I closed this with a poem from my part of our collaboration:

I agree that fallen angels
exert a certain charm

Taste once as guest
the unforgettable funky must
of a public shelter on the street

and you'll watch your step
and carefully avoid
falling again into that
bottomless pit

and the fathomless
exoticism of square one