Commentaries

Listening out the collectivist window: 'Okay, my name is so-and-so ...'

Here are two facing pages from Rob Fitterman’s This Window Makes Me Feel. Written in the long shadow of 9/11, this book of prose poetry “replaces the individual poet’s response to catastrophe with a collective, multi-vocal chorus of everyday” expression. Parts of the work have been published before, but this Ugly Duckling Presse edition is the first time the whole poem has been printed as one. It is one of the earliest examples of a long poem solely composed with repurposed language taken from the web. We at ModPo will be filming a short video about this excerpt (see below) of Fitterman’s work. I received my copy the other day and cannot stop reading and rereading the sentences.

Often I am permitted: Jess and Robert Duncan

Jess, Emblems for Robert Duncan II: #4 “the ayre off the music carries,” 1989, collage ( 4 1/4 x 5 5/8 inches, tondo). Tibor de Nagy Gallery. (My photo.)

This work of Jess (Colins) (Duncan’s lifelong love) echoes Duncan’s iconic poem with the image of the meadow (“the opening off the field”) in the background and the game of “Ring a Ring o’ Roses” in the foreground; as well as, perhaps, intimations of the “Queen Under The Hill”/likenesses of “the First Beloved.” The collage is on view till May 6 at Tibor de Nagy Gallery

Often I Am Permitted to Return to a Meadow

as if it were a scene made-up by the mind,   
that is not mine, but is a made place,

Ricardo Cázares: a fragment from a poem in progress, with a note by the author

Translation from Spanish by Joshua Edwards

 

And likewise they contend that animals / Wander about head downwards and cannot fall / Off from the earth into the sky below / Any more than our bodies of themselves can fly / Upwards into the regions of the sky; / That when they see the sun, the stars of night / Are what we see, and that they share the hours / Of the wide heavens alternately with us, / And pass nights corresponding to our days.

Marthe Reed: from 'Ark Hive' (forthcoming), printed here as a memorial and tribute

The text presented here is from Marthe’s Reed’s Ark Hive, forthcoming posthumously from The Operating System. A poetic approach to life in south Louisiana, it’s no wonder that Reed quotes poet C. D. Wright at the start of the work as Wright’s work covering south Louisiana could no doubt be seen as a necessary prerequisite to Reed’s own project. In the opening pages, Reed approaches her predicament as if she were a researcher placed in a foreign land, situating herself among her surroundings, in the midst of a condition of place that is both physically distant and so very different from the places she had previously lived. From there, she leans into language, the language of water, of floods and earth reclaimed, only to be lost again as the seasons change in places that are far away, the words occasionally scattered across the pages like the silt that drives the Mississippi water to the Gulf of Mexico.

[editor’s noteIn the wake of Marthe Reed’s sudden and unexpected death earlier this month, I am opening Poems and Poetics to a commemoration of her work and spirit through the posting of an excerpt from a new book now awaiting publication. I had known Marthe Reed first as my student at UCSD San Diego and later as a dear friend and greatly admired poet.

Robert Sullivan — an important Aotearoa New Zealand poet, editor, and scholar

Robert Sullivan

Robert Sullivan
Robert Sullivan. [Photo by Rachel J. Fenton]

This commentary post features Robert Sullivan (Ngāpuhi and Kāi Tahu iwi). Robert is an important Aotearoa New Zealand poet/author, in that his work flows across several parameters. What do I mean by this? Firstly, Robert is Māori — his iwi or tribal affiliations are as listed above and indeed encompass the entirety of New Zealand in that Ngāpuhi is northern and Kāi Tahu is southern in locality. Being Māori necessarily incorporates a different epistemological outlook and ontological stance — as conveyed in many of his poems. Quite simply, then, Robert sees and senses differently to a majority of New Zealand poets; yet at the same time he is more than capable of writing poems in a ‘mainstream’ English-language fashion, should he choose to.

Kia ora ano [Hello once more].

This commentary post features Robert Sullivan (Ngāpuhi and Kāi Tahu iwi). Robert is an important Aotearoa New Zealand poet/author, in that his work flows across several parameters. What do I mean by this?