David Bromige Memorial At Poet's House, Friday October 16, 2009
Ron Silliman has posted a terrific essay on David Bromige, in celebration of what would have been David's 76th birthday, here:Silliman's Blog.
I understand there is more to come about David from both Ron and Bob Perelman in the Grand Piano series. This is something I am eagerly looking forward to.
Here is a version of the talk I gave about David B at Poet's House:
David Bromige is difficult to describe because he was a fascinating person of contrasts and complex contradictions. Solitary thinker and and social charmer, mild man and wild man, diabetic and dionysian, respected professor and perennial rebel, poet of love and longing and poet of language, poetics and thought, urban wit and country squire, California and Canadian American and European, his many facets shifted in the changing moment of perception. I think part of the reason for this was his wariness of "tight corners" and his determination to see and experience what lies around them.
David and I had one of those mutually supportive poet relationships so hard to stay with later in life. As an editor of Avec, in the late 80's and into the 90's, he featured and supported my work at a significant moment in my own career. Some months after he retired from teaching in 1993 he wrote me an enthusiastic letter about a chapbook of mine published around that time [by Peter Ganick in his Abacus series]. David wrote that he had become dispirited after retiring, to his suprise, but that when he had come across my chapbook that he had tossed into a box (probably packing up at Sonoma State) he had to write to me about it. This is a letter I treasured, read and reread.
A favorite moment in my relationship with David took place once when we were discussing irony. I was saying that at one point in my life I did things deliberately differently each and every day, but that with a busier schedule of commitments I could no longer do this. For some reason I had switched into doing the opposite, doing things almost identically each and every day. David said, "But that is a kind of irony too. An irony of action." David''s conversation was replete with such insights and compressed wisdom. You will find it in abundance in his writing.
Preparing for this celebration I came across a poem in his book The Harbormaster of Hong Kong called Lines. The poem consists of a series of short poems in a call and answer mode, like this: "a poem should not mean but be [underlined]whereas the opposite is true [below the line], club universe [underlined] before the universe club you [below the line] kiss me quick[underlined] too late[below the line] unconscious [underlinesd] we have only the present moment to be unconscious in [below the line] life is brief [underlined] it says here [below the line]" Only after rereading this work the other day did I realize what an influence this poem had on my series of aphorisms titled Contradicta that I have been writing for several years now.
[after this I read two poems of David's: "Soul Mates" and "The End of The Stranger" from Desire]