Lunar Chandelier Press
had its debut reading tonight at the Poetry Project. Of the three books presented I am most familiar with Joe Elliot's Homework. When I edited OCHO 21 I had the immense good fortune to choose from a large portion of the as yet unedited manuscript of this book. I can say that my most immediate feeling was sadness at not having chosen to edit a magazine much sooner and I could now see why so many of my poet friends had done exactly that with a good portion of their time over the years. When I was asked to write a blurb for the book I was delighted and honored but soon realized what a daunting task it would be, having already experienced so many waves of emotion about Elliot's powerful work. When I brought the book home tonight and began rereading it I got a glimmer of just how strongly his work had affected me, not only by way of enjoyment and admiration, but viscerally and very personally. The thoughts and feelings I am driving at here are somewhat summarized in the blurb I wrote for Joe's book, available on the Lunar Chandelier website (above), and, in a shortened version, on the back of the book. More of that some other time, hopefully soon.
I have had a couple of days to begin reading Lynn Behrendt's new book and I am impressed and excited about that book as well. My first thought was that my reaction to q quick read of parts of this book reminded me of my reaction to hearing and reading Ted Berrigan's Sonnets, over 40 years ago. This response might have had to do with these lines:
"I am a language vole too.
I got glue
in my vagina"
(from the poem The Ulna Slash Uvula Laid Bare Lingual Age)
I had the same sudden feeling reading this poem two nights ago of a manifesto of an impending poetic movement as when I read Berrigan's sonnets for the first time. And I think, in particular of these lines:
"baffling combustions are everywhere/graying the faces of virgins/ aching to be fucked/we fondle their snatches/and O, I am afraid!/The poem on the page/ will not kneel/for everything comes to it/gratuitously"
Now, I've thought in recent and not so recent years how sexist these lines must sound now, since the "we" obviously refers to men, and therefore hints of a predatory male conspiracy. But reading it then, I don't believe that is how it struck me. Berrigan's Sonnets deftly wove such sexual and sensual longing within a lyrical, complexly rhythmic, linguistic thread of philosophical and literary intellectuality, wit, self-effacement as well as countless other emotions and observations blended with numerous fragments of conscious and unconscious, fantasy experience. I feel the same in Lynn's poem- the poem continues with variations on the original words much the way Berrigan's Sonnets turn lines again and again around and within themselves.
Behrendt's poem continues:
"It's me and thee and analog glee-
in isotope tetrameters"
"You're one alluvial egg
you lover of lingo slag
a lovely oval lung"
"how long , lonely little Anglo?
I'm venial Eve hitting a gog
in a dollar store lounge"
The final reader tonight was Vyt Bakaitis, whose book I have not yet seen, but whose reading evoked countless memories of New York School charisma. His wit, charm and lyricism pulled in the whole room, and by extension, the world outside the room.
The whole evening left my mind virtually swinging from, and with, the Lunar Chandelier.
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Debussy plays Debussy- You Tube