Flora Alejandra Pizarnik (1936–1972) was born to Russian Jewish parents in an immigrant district of Buenos Aires. During her short life, spent mostly between Buenos Aires and Paris, Pizarnik produced an astonishingly powerful body of work, including poetry, tales, paintings, drawings, translations, essays, and drama.
I’ve always wondered what it would feel like to issue a manifesto like in the good old days, but any such assertion nowadays always seems to splinter into its ambiguities, leaving the motivating impulse unmanifest. The burden of poetic process is how easily it spoils even the finest dogma. However, if one located a principle that exists outside as well as inside art, stating it would not be a manifesto but a poignant observation.
The tension between sentence fragment, sententia, long line, short line, and break is bravura. Also“cura,” with a certain care with language, following Rachel Blau DuPlessis in Blue Studies: Poetry and Its Cultural Work (2006). Address. Discussing the work of McKenzie with Pam Brown recently she recounted a seminar at UTS (University of Technology, Sydney) organized by Peter Minter around 2005, where McKenzie performed her poems, all memorized, no script to read off.
7. Geraldine McKenzie (born 1954)
In Geraldine McKenzie’s poem “Full Bore,” included in her collection Duty, a stanzaic pattern emerges. Here’s how it begins:
Full bore. As at. The statement should be the clearest possible
The first time I listen to Basil Bunting perform Thomas Wyatt’s “Blame not my lute,” I am unable to follow it. The sixteenth-century English certainly does not help. I hear the word “desart“ and don’t know what it means. I hear the word “change” that is familiar to me but it is used in a way that I am not accustomed to. I listen to it a few more times. The repetition radiates a kind of pleasure. But why should I, in 2017, bother to listen to one dead guy reciting a poem four decades ago that another dead guy wrote five centuries ago?
With Jeroen van den Heuvel’s short essay responding to the experience of hearing Basil Bunting’s performance of Thomas Wyatt’s “Blame not my lute,” the three coeditors of the “First Readings” series offer the fourth of five takes on this cover. The recording is linked here and is also available at PennSound’s Bunting