Distribution Automatique

Thursday, February 11

A Seventh Birthday Fait Accompli Synchronicity

Today is fait accompli's seventh birthday! It is fascinating, and exciting to me, that copies of Contradicta, our Green Integer book of aphorisms by me and illustrations by Toni Simon, just arrived today. My goal from the beginning of this blog was to try to consciously create conditions that would bring about such synchronicities.This one is, to me, very special indeed. Page 11 in the book contains a collage by Toni, using a calendar page from February. Our sincere gratitude and affection goes out to our publisher, Douglas Messerli. We couldn't be happier with his work on this book.

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Saturday, Feb 13 at the BPC: Rick Snyder and Anselm Berrigan

Rick Snyder and Anselm Berrigan gave terrific readings today at the Bowery Poetry Club, invited and introduced by Gary Sullivan and Nada Gordon. I was thinking of the contrast between these poets which actually brought out what I enjoyed about each of them. Rick Snyder's poems often reflect upon his experiences in a mordantly funny way. For example, Rick Snyder read this poem:

How Are You Doing?

I can't find examples right now of the science-fiction like poem he read, but after the reading I told him in some ways this work reminded me of David Larsen's who read a couple of weeks ago. Both these men are scholars, Snyder working in the area of classics, Larsen in early Arabic language studies. I think Snyder's poem was called Testimonia and represented the equivalent of bits of classic literature found in the far future from contemporary poets. In the literature of the classics, "testimonia" were commentaries by poets about their contemporaries, but Snyder mentioned these seemed often to be at least partly made up and inaccurate. Some contemporary poets were named in these works such as Ron Silliman and Bernadette Mayer's Midwinter Day (nice touch for the weather we're having here). I wish I could describe these poems better, but their laconic humor reminded me of Larsen's translation of Arabic poems from the middle ages which also consisted of commentaries by poets about translations by other poets, and very funny in the way the Larsen read them, just as Snyder's Testimonia were.

Anselm Berrigan's poems, on the other hand, were, to me, more like thoroughgoing phenomenological studies of his own thought processes. Just as thought is fleeting, evanescent and sometimes contradictory and confusing, enfolded upon itself in mysterious and suggestive ways, Berrigan's work, while acknowledging his own opinions and observations of life in a self-effacing, and yet respectful and somewhat obligatory way, prefers to render his own thought process clearly and objectively as he can; but, as we know, the thought process and our own reflections on it are, by definition, as subjective as anything can be. But for the same reasons that one can spend a lifetime psychoanalyzing oneself and others, for reasons that seem important and can be justified in pragmatic ways, can also seem worthwhile doing for reasons that can be quite as obscure and labyrinthine as the investigations themselves sometimes are and perhaps have to be. That's the way it sometimes is, and in the best poetry of this nature, such as Berrigan's, it both justififies and defines itself in its own terms, refusing to be consciously entertaining or didactic, but becoming so perhaps anyway because of its own inherently rigorous processes and techniques, and also somehow because of all this having a beauty and originality all its own. I can tell you as one who knew him a little, I believe his father, Ted Berrigan, would be fascinated, proud, and, if even a little envious, would find a way to make himself and all of us laugh about such envy and yet own it as a human necessity.

Anselm Berrigan's Penn Sound page

Nada and Gary's introductions to the Snyder/Berrigan reading on Ululations