Monday, June 18, 2007

Keeping it going...

I've decided to keep this going as my main poetry blog. So here's a poem:

"Love may Lin Yi-feng"

You love a plane
I love a cup
You love me-lad
I love you sister
you should love Lee,
Lee, Ai Li Ying slaughter
fixed-loving Well they should never be

A peak : the sun seems to love the air seems to love the sun air

Love love someone so true love is priceless
I love love
love will be expressed in words,
no haggle must first have a lot of assets
more drinks housekeeper
because it is not only a
with the best drivers hew
Facts Love is the fact realities
your car made no floor
without dogs Zuomie to drag my hands.
As long as no goods woman
As long as men no silver
So several hundred cards than Well, both platinum card
George Lam no uh you - uh own your own

A peak : salted fish is a good taste of cabbage

Several accounts in the old water SIN custody to a female buried Qu

A peak : Drainage Oh~ called Fresh Air Sunshine

Love seems a house together a card worried over a sunny air a car
love seems a person has been ripped a Until
fruit together a lifetime training
seems to love a house together
a card worried a shelter
a sunny air Cart love

A peak : the sun seems to love the air

You love me so I left you
so I love you, I standoffish
I love you because I love you
I love you because I love Quwu

Beyond preparing prospective bride
bride kidnapping colleagues get your point
BMW who sent you flowers
to the people to drink wine you drink tea
I love you brushed aside enough going hungry match

I love to watch you, you are going hungry enough cash

Well, I love you worried mind rainy under cover
most critical
trip over two steps you will hew cars
Miles told you I love you you never see the sincerity
If you love me, I called Miles forced the bus with you
Hello but it is not the business
you ask me Point-like comfort like to join

Love seems a house together a card
worried over a sunny air a car
love seems a person has been ripped a Until
a lifetime together a training
seems to love a house
together a card
worried a shelter
a sunny air Cart love

A peak : the sun seems to love the air

Your favorite missionary
I love flying and dogs jumping dress
you love to watch Aberdeen
I love to watch three earners
you love a channel-lattice
I love Lattice elephant
love and to the UNIFIL time,
no one has never approach

A peak : the sun seems to love the air seems to love the sun air

Monday, June 4, 2007

Bonus Poems!

My original idea for my chapbook was to work with Fenollosa's idea of the Chinese character and make graphical poems using photo collages of English malapropisms and mistranslations found on Chinese billboards, street signs, menus, etc. Genius! Well, not really... I realized it wasn't really working out the way I'd hoped even before Kasey gave me feedback on my draft manuscript. He basically reiterated what I'd been thinking--the transfer to print would have had a disastrous effect on the poems. They really needed a high quality graphical element to make them interesting and since I'm too cheap to invest in magazine grade, slick glossy paper for a chapbook I ended up back at the drawing board. I transcribed a few of the poems I had but, aside from a couple of exceptions, they didn't hold up very well. I started re-collaging the remaining poems to create something--anything--but, unfortunately, I was left with very little to work with. Drats!

I wanted to keep working with Chinese--I just knew there was something there--so I tried a number of techniques using online translators with different source material until I found something I was pleased with. In fact, despite the late nights and the frustration, I am really, really happy with the way my chapbook turned out. In the meantime, however, I have dozens of poems using a variety of techniques that just didn't "fit" (oh, how I tried to make them work). Here are a couple of those poems:

I heard footsteps behind in 1969
life extracted from an old body
the deer licked the blood
and fell to the ground
into the opened coffin went the truth
and threw out the corpse
butterflies die
even fly in the right hands
you still owed the valley some fighting
now without a ghost of hope

Dead dogs
Kingpins of tin-poisoned arrogance
anxiously worship the game.
Contemplating domination,
seeking maps for the right disaster.
Profit exists in chaos—
in waste after overthrow.
And noise.
Soldiers given crowns without swords,
warfare without battle,
bare, carbon nobility
left as hanging meat for the forest.
Pain is its own end
when compassionate rape is law.

Dead dogs.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Coolidge and Watten - Spots, Forms, Space, Time, and Context

Regarding the question of syntax, I’ve been feeling a bit like a moth locked in a room, bouncing off of a light bulb. Repeatedly hitting the glass, I’ve felt incapable of penetrating into the “energy” of the thing. Each of the essays that we’ve studied this term has been like another light bulb, each one offering a bit more illumination but still, to me, impenetrable. I dart around, examining them trying to find that one spot—-that escape into the realm of what constitutes “good poetry.” Fortunately Clark Coolidge came along and opened the door or I may have spun around in that room forever, frustrated. He reminded me there isn’t a single spot but many spots and that “forms” are always plural.

Coolidge, when describing the “actual world,” points out the arrangement of trees, leaves, and birds. He says, “There seems to be no intelligence behind it but there is an arrangement…[these] places in space being occupied and moving.” Our human brains are always trying to make sense of our place in the ever-changing world so we designate arrangements to everything—even when no “intelligent” arrangement exists. And the more we look the more we see. That’s why it is possible (as Trisha points out) for Aram Saroyan’s one-word poems or Coolidge’s “trilobites” to have syntax just as Shakespeare, Keats, and Shelley have syntax. As the reader (or the poet) we are in charge of assigning syntax. There isn’t just one way, there are many—-spots, forms.

Sometimes syntactical arrangements in language are obvious. Ron Silliman’s book-length poem, Tjanting, for example, is written in the Fibonacci number sequence (the number of sentences in each paragraph equals the number of sentences in the previous two paragraphs). Other times, however, we have to look harder at the arrangements to fit our conception of syntax--ounce code orange. At this point I doubt anyone would argue that Coolidge's poem lacks syntax, and I would go one step further and say that it constitutes good (if not great) poetry. Why? Because, for me, it hits the spots.

Those "moving spaces," when occupied with some resistance help to create poetic syntax. The particular space that Coolidge's ohm affects by "hang[ing] down there" is both struggle and acquiescence. Even though it is resistance, the poem would likely not survive without it. Even though, to some, the words in the poem may seem random, Coolidge says that is impossible, the words are "coming from a place where you are working in your mind." Not only is the poet making the connections in his mind, the reader is making them as well. Whether it "works" or not depends a lot on where your mind is at the time--or, as Samual Beckett says, "find[ing] a form that accommodates the mess..."

All of this agrees nicely with Barrett Watten's idea of syntax depending on context. We each weigh the possible interpretations of something by considering the context in which we find it. Coolidge's trilobite may not have a place in a sonnet by Shakespeare just as a line of Shakespeare would be inappropriate in a Silliman poem. In quoting Robert Smithson, Watten talks about "both the interior and exterior [time and space] to the work." Space, according to Smithson, is the exterior syntax--the physical and cultural place of the work, while time is the interior syntax: "it is structural and psychological and begins with the response to the work in language." I agree with Smithson (and Watten) that stasis is "a hopeful development in art." Does this mean that there isn't movement? No. Much like the paradox in ohm, stasis relies on movement or, as Watten says, "the breaking apart of the spatial order [to] undermine...the authority of the present time." A Coolidge poem written forty years ago feels as fresh to me as many of the poems being written today. It seems to exist outside of space and time--it has its own inherent context.

I guess what I am getting at is that, as a poet, it is up to me to try to create a syntax that can somehow exist outside of Smithson's space and time. The reader will, of course, supply her own subjective context to the work and, if we are both lucky, spots will be hit. As Silliman writes in Tjanting, “Each sentence accounts for its place." I completely agree. Hopefully now I can stop bouncing off of lightbulbs and aim for the moon.