Thursday, September 13, 2012

"And what were they anyway, sprigs of grass, things of blue?"

I have been interested in whatever poet Mary Ruefle might have to say ever since I discovered her book A Little White Shadow,  a poetry collection that was the facsimile of a small novel that she herself found in a thrift store and with the aid of white-out, used to reveal small, beautiful, and disquieting poems. Now from Wave Books we have her collected lectures, Madness, Rack, and Honey, a book I've dropped everything else for.  You can find more of her erasure works on her website, and I bet you'll want to rush out and find the perfect book that you can use to simultaneously obscure and uncover.  It is in the corner of the junk shop, it lives at the bottom of a box at the next garage sale you see.

Here she speaks in the lecture "Someone Reading a Book is a Sign of Order in the World."

There is a world that poets cannot seem to enter. It is the world everybody else lives in. And the only thing poets seem to have in common is their yearning to enter this world.

Her lecture "I Remember, I Remember" is the best homage and
riff on Joe Brainard's I Remember that I can remember:

I remember reading Rilke's Duine Elegies again and again and again, until I "got" them, until something burst over me like a flood, and I remember, once again, weeping and weeping with a book in my hands.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Presently the Teacup Stirred

I am missing out on a reading/discussion on James Merrill and his masterpiece, The Changing Light at Sandover next week.  But that does not mean you have to.  Here's some information on the event, and a bit of what I had to say on Merrill, thanks to the queries of Kathleen Kirk.

And here's Richard Fox saying things more cogently than I:

Finally, here's the man Merrill himself, reading a poem about using the Ouija board for the first time.

(As an aside, did you know that "Ouija" was just the French yes and ther German yes put together, because someone at Milton Bradley thought it made a foreign and mystical-sounding word?  it's better, at any rate, than communicating with the spirits on your yes-yes board.)

Monday, September 3, 2012

If that bird muttered with an old man’s throat.

Hooray for the approach of fall.  I sat outside today at my local cafe, feeling urban and writerly as I drank a cappuccino and a glass of red wine and wrote in my notebook.  It turned out that I filled up the notebook, writing the last three pages, which feels like an ending, but also a beginning, which is the way fall feels to me. It was nearly 90 today in Chicago, and as I wrote I heard the whap whap whop of people walking by in their flip-flops. But the elm tree in my front yard knows what's coming, it is already shedding some brown saw-edged leaves.  Tonight I am fiddling with a manuscript.  Here's a poem from it that feels (to me) like a fall poem:

Postcard for the Soul That at Last Became a Bird

a warm afternoon:
a crow

stalks the shade beneath
a sycamore tree,

at some kind of meat
in the grass.  If
your soul

became a bird.
If that bird muttered
with an old man’s

throat.  If there’s a soul.
If the crow
found a treasure,

a beakful, a bone.
The soul’s search,
the crow’s

hunger.  The luck
of the scrap. The force
of the stab.

The pluck and rasp
of those black
scissors. Crows,

their voices. Crows
in the branches
like a wicked boys choir.