A couple years back I was attending a reading at the Zinc bar in Greenwich Village. After the reading, I went up to one of young poets on the bill to introduce myself and tell her that I enjoyed her work. Jacqueline Waters, the poet in question, thanked me and then looked at me very intently, then inquired: “Joel Lewis. FROM NEW JERSEY?”
Thinking back on my last post here (Dada to Daesh) I realized that the sense of poetry I was proposing (defending?) has been with me for a long time. So, here a short piece that expands on my sense of what poetry can / should be today if it is to be of use. I wrote this back in 1987 as introduction for an international anthology following a poetry festival I had organized with poet Jean Portante in Luxembourg, just a few months before I left Europe & moved back to the U.S.
This story begins long long long long ago So long ago that it was a place not a time There was a man He was so alone The only person he could talk to was Africa Luckily there was a tree nearby Even more luckily behind that tree That’s where his partner was hiding All the sun and all the water were condensed Into a single tiny block Which the man planted in the sandy soil He blew and he blew on that spot Each time he blew he thought he heard something What he was hearing was of course his partner singing
Three times a year Abigail Lang, Olivier Brossard and Vincent Broqua organize a two-day "Poets & Critics" symposium in Paris – during which they welcome a multinational and multilingual group of writers, scholars and artists to discuss the work of one English-language poet. The terrifying but exhilarating condition: the poet will also be there. The poet will talk back to you. You will talk back to the poet. Hopefully you will begin talking together.