Commentaries - June 2012

Reconfiguring Romanticism (54): Jeffrey C. Robinson, 'Occupy Romanticism,' 27 May 2012

EDITOR’S NOTE. The following was Jeffrey Robinson’s contribution to the recent Poetry & Revolution conference at Birkbeck College of the University of London. As with other of Robinson’s recent writings, it presents an ongoingly radical view of Romanticism in the spirit of Poems for the Millennium, volmue 3, which he and I constructed in the first decade of the current millennium. For my part, the collaboration with Robinson opened me to areas of poetry that had long been hidden from me and honed my own practice in ways that had only been latent until then. If I wrote A Book of Concealments in the process – & I did – the sense of “Romantic Dadas” that appears there was also part of our work in common, for which I remain forever grateful. (J.R.)

Phyllis Webb at 85

Arriving at Salt Spring Island

A few days ago I did what I do several times a year: visited poet Phyllis Webb on Salt Spring Island. It’s not the easiest trip: I live near a ferry terminal on the mainland, so the first step is easy, but from there it’s one ferry for an hour and a half to Vancouver Island; then a second ferry (45 minutes or so) to Salt Spring; then a bus ride to the other end of the island; and at last a walk through the village of Ganges and up a hill to the assisted living facility where Webb, 85, lives.

When the author is dead: Posthumous collections of poetry from Hawai`i

(With love & rage in equal measure)

Painting by Reuban Tam (1916-1991)

Just over a week ago, I put this request up on the Tinfish Press facebook page: “I’m looking for good models of books published posthumously, especially by poets who are not well known already. In what ways are these books same/different from books by living authors? How, in the end, does one work up interest in such poetry after the very literal death of the author?” Some 35 substantive comments later, I realized that there was probably a book to be researched and written in response to those questions.  Instead of writing one, I’ll be looking at two recent posthumous volumes from Hawai`i in this commentary, namely, Westlake: Poems by Wayne Kaumualii Westlake (1947-1984) (University of Hawai`i Press, 2009), edited by Mei-Li M. Siy and Richard Hamasaki, and Language Matters: Tony Quagliano, Selected Poetry (New York Quarterly Books, 2012), put together by Quagliano’s widow, Laura Ruby, although no one is credited as editor on the title page. There’s a lot to remark upon: the way the poetry is presented, contextualized, edited, but also the odd, unremarked upon affinities between the two poets.  They both revered Kerouac, knew their Pound and his Imagism, adopted William Carlos Williams’s obsession with the local language, place. Their tone was often acidic, provocative. Both were idealistic and profoundly angry poets.

Márcio-André live

Drawing by Laura Erber, 2011
Drawing by Laura Erber, 2011

Right now, an opportunity to catch the live stream reading-performance of Márcio-André, poet-performer from Rio, living in Lisbon. On now (following Ulrike Draesner) at the 43rd Poetry International Festival in Rotterdam.

Other poets at the festival include Dolores Dorantes, Chus Pato, and Ron Silliman.