Touch, love, then explain (PoemTalk #176)

John Ashbery, 'Some Trees'

John Ashbery, photo by Walter Silver © Photography Collection, The New York Public Library

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

Al Filreis brought together Abdulhamit Arvas, Dagmawi Woubshet, and Carlos Decena to talk about one of John Ashbery’s very early poems. “Some Trees,” preceded only by “The Painter” among verse written when Ashbery was an undergraduate at Harvard that the poet chose to keep and publish later, was written during the evening of November 16, 1948. Ashbery was just twnety-one years old. PennSound’s Ashbery page includes several recordings of him reciting this poem.

Translitigation

A Polish-ish poet on translating a Polish poet

Painting by Grzegorz Wróblewski. Image courtesy of the artist.

Autthor note: Jacket2 has our permission to publish these poems. The original publisher has gone out of business so the rights have reverted back to the author. In turn he has granted me full permission to translate and publish the prose poems of his book Android i anegdota, which translates to An Android and an Anecdote. The working English title is Mr. Z— Peter Burzyński

‘We’ the people

Collective lyric self in twenty-first-century poetry

“Either as poets or as readers, we now realize we are entangled, even when we don’t know what do to with this realization, nor what to call it.” Photo of red bryony tendrils intertwined by hedera.baltica via Wikimedia Commons.

1. First-person otherness

Running the risk of asking the most naïve-sounding question in lyric poetry, what do we make of a contemporary poem in English written in the first person? Whether the first person is singular or plural, how does that choice impact our relationship with the speaker in the poem? And has that relationship changed in the twenty-first century, or is it dictated by our inheritance of modernist ideas and the way they have framed our understanding of the lyric self?

Golden

Camille Roy's 'Honey Mine'

Photo of Camille Roy (right) by Angela Romagnoli.

The title of this new collection tells the reader a lot: Honey Mine. Honey, that viscous product of the hive, both nutrient and excess, sweet and sticky. Mine — the possessive pronoun and noun, as in gold mine.

Among lesbians the story is a form of sex talk — a joint whereby the community and the couple are of the same body (155) 

'An escape from daily pronouns'

S. Brook Corfman’s journal poems and the domestic life of queer gender

Sliver from a pallasite meteorite from Fukang (Xinjiang, China). Image via Wikimedia Commons.

If the self in everyday life is like a jar without a lid, exposed and vulnerable to impacts, tipping over and spilling out, then S. Brook Corfman’s 2020 book My Daily Actions, or The Meteorites, a record of the self in everyday life, endeavors to hold that vessel carefully and watch it overflow: “I traced myself in peppermint oil, for protection. During the storm, each room filled with water, a jar always brimming. An escape from daily pronouns.

'Meeting this strangeness'

Katherine Agyemaa Agard's 'of colour'

Image adapted from cover art of ‘of colour.’

of colour commences in an apology. Rather, Katherine Agyemaa Agard suggests her text was born out of a failure to make a film about the African diaspora “or simply our diaspora. My mother and father and brother and sister and me.”[1It’s come to this is the sentiment at the beginning of the text. It’s come to a textual object because another form failed.

The delight of this work

Women of color celebrate second books

Clockwise from top left: Seema Reza, Gabrielle Civil, Christina Olivares, Rosamond S. King, Purvi Shah.

The inception of this work is relationship. 

Publishing is not pretty for women of color poets. Undue expectations. The need to speak on behalf of whole communities. Elusive second books. 

*a linked engagement with:
Future Botanic. Christina Olivares. Get Fresh Books, forthcoming 2022

A review of 'Black Case Volume I and II'

Image courtesy of Blank Forms Editions and After : Still.

Across the decades, the recordings of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, as well as most announcements of their concerts, bore the slogan “Great Black Music: Ancient to the Future.” Some years ago, in the course of a panel on the Ensemble and their history at the University of Chicago that featured Joseph Jarman, Roscoe Mitchell, and George Lewis, the subject of that slogan and its origins was broached. Asked why that slogan, Jarman quipped, “nobody ever said it was great.” 

we sing looking to ALL the past future masters
to give us clear vision
healing music, GREAT BLACK MUSIC
where we start from finish start finish[1]

Zoning in, zoning out

A trialogue

Note: When I first met Edgar and Jose-Luis in Chicago some six years ago, and then again two years later, it seemed like we had known each other forever. Three nerdy, studious, politically minded Cali blokes far from home (they in Chicago, me in New Orleans) couldn’t talk fast enough to connect the dots between us historically, philosophically, politically, and poetically. And since meeting them, the range of accomplished publications they’ve both produced presented me with rich materials from which I felt I could engage them both — at the same time.