PoemTalk’s crew took to the road, wandering pretty much as far west as one can go on this continent, to a place Philip Whalen called, in a poem’s subtitle, “the last of California” — Bolinas, coastal spot famous as A congenial writer’s retreat. Stephen Ratcliffe, Joanne Kyger, and Julia Bloch gathered there with Al Filreis to talk about Whalen. Our poem was indeed written in Bolinas, in 1968, and finished in Kyoto in 1969. It’s called “Life at Bolinas: The Last of California.” Whalen’s PennSound page includes a recording of his performance of this poem.
Julia Bloch, Stephen Ratcliffe, and Pattie McCarthy joined Al Filreis for a discussion of a poem by Joanne Kyger called “It’s Been a Long Time: Notes from the Revolution.” Readers can find the text of the poem in Kyger’s volume of selected poems, As Ever (2002). The poem was written in the early 1970s. PennSound’s recording of Kyger’s performance of the poem is an audio segment extracted from the video-and-audio recording made of the television show — the March 28, 1978, episode of Public Access Poetry.
C o n t i n u u m, written between January 5, 2011 and September 30, 2013, is the fourth book in Stephen Ratcliffe's ongoing series of 1,000-page books, each written in 1,000 consecutive days.
Listening to Ratcliffe reading the words of the day on the page as it turns from one day to the next, one hears the poem's acoustic 'shape': the length and pitch of its syllables and words (plus those silences between them) sounding the air. What one doesn't hear is its visual 'shape': words set in Courier, font of equivalent spacing; the nine lines on the page divided into four stanzas; first three lines all the same length, followed by two pairs of indented lines (both first lines the same length, both second lines six spaces shorter), followed by two final lines (back on the left margin, both lines also the same length) (see photo of "9.30", top right).
The ordinariness of the uncanny in the paratactician's dream: Attention, drift, perception, modulation, citation, repetition, speculation, description, reflection, observation, insinuation. In Stephen Ratcliffe's Selected Days, each day is much like the next. The difference is poetry.