Commentaries - October 2012

Williams in the mail

WCW stamp.
WCW stamp.

Mail received the other day from Joe Milutis, who Skyped into my William Carlos Williams class to talk about Paterson and the work he’s been doing on the impressively audio-rich and intertextual blog New Jersey as an Impossible Object.

Outsider poems, a mini-anthology in progress (46): 'The Rogue’s Delight in Praise of his Strolling Mort: A Thieves' Canting Song'

Virgil & Dante in the Hell of Thieves (medieval).
Virgil & Dante in the Hell of Thieves (medieval).

Doxy oh! Thy Glaziers shine
As Glymmar by the Salomon,
No Gentry Mort hath prats like thine
No Cove e're wap'd with such a one.

White thy fambles, red thy gan,
And thy quarrons dainty is,
Couch a hogshead with me than,
In the Darkmans clip and kiss.

What though I no Togeman wear,
Nor Commission, Mish, or slate,
Store of strummel wee'l have here.
And i'th' Skipper lib in state.

Wapping thou I know dost love,
Else the Ruffin cly thee Mort,
From thy stampers then remove

Poaching the prospect

A "deadfall" trap

I had inferred from pictures that the world was real and therefore paused, for who knows what will happen if we talk truth while climbing the stairs. In fact, I was afraid of following the picture to where it reaches right out into reality, laid against it like a ruler. I thought I would die if my name didn’t touch me, or only with its very end, leaving the inside open to so many feelers like chance rain pouring down from the clouds. You laughed and told everybody that I had mistaken the Tower of Babel for Noah in his Drunkenness.
— Rosmarie Waldrop*, “The Reproduction of Profiles”

I was thinking about why I wanted to write about still lifes, which perhaps don’t seem so directly a ecological and/or poetic topic, really. I guess it’s partly because I think so much about intentional landscapes and the still life is a miniature of that. Still lifes also are an intersection between art/nature, and in the physicality of their arthood (artiness?), actual places in which to think about where the creative soul can have something to say about how we exist in and of nature.

Roy Harvey Pearce ( 1919-2012) : obituary by Michael Davidson

Roy Harvey Pearce, one of the founders of the UCSD’s Literature Department, died on August 27th 2012.

John Ashbery's jacket

Photo of John Ashbery wearing a jacket: by John Tranter (R77-8)
Photo of John Ashbery wearing a jacket: by John Tranter (R77-8)

I first came across John Ashbery’s work in the late 1960s. It had a great influence on my own poetry. As I say in my 2009 doctoral thesis, “the three poets who have most influenced [my] work [are] Arthur Rimbaud, the Australian hoax poet ‘Ern Malley’, and the contemporary US poet John Ashbery.”

The connections are interesting. As a young man, Ashbery lived in France for a decade, and he has recently translated Rimbaud’s “Illuminations”. Ern Malley: back in 2002 John wrote a few poems in the “voice” of “Ern Malley”, whose writing inspired him as a young man at Harvard. Jacket number 17 publishes two of these poems, “Potsdam” and “Aenobarbus”, here.