Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sleep, why do it? Autobiography with Joseph

“I’d rather die on my feet than live on my knees.” 
– Stephane “Charb” Charbonnier (1967 – 2015), publisher, Charlie Hebdo

Fire and Fury shows that the political and moral problem of this president — a "real-life fictional character" — is also a literary problem: How to get below the surface of a man who is all surface  The Noise Comes From Shallow Ends of Cold Rivers 

REALLY? WHO’D HAVE GUESSED!  Humblebraggers are even worse than full-on braggers

A revolution against boredom, punk music was the 20th century’s last avant-garde movement. What does its demise mean for creative life?  Sleeping on Samizdat Scenes in Darkest Hours in Prague - Plastic People Power 

On the cusp of his final, “posthumous” year, Keats shows he has done a lot of growing up, of necessity. Two days later, Keats enacts a comic tour-de-force that doubles as a taxonomy of human types. He writes to Georgiana of his friends James Rice Jr., John Hamilton Reynolds and Thomas Richards:   

“I know three witty people all distinct in their excellence — Rice, Reynolds, and Richards. Rice is the wisest, Reynolds the playfullest, Richards the out-o’-the-wayest. The first makes you laugh and think, the second makes you laugh and not think, the third puzzles your head. I admire the first, I enjoy the second, I stare at the third. The first is Claret, the second Ginger beer, the third Crême de Byrapymdrag. The first is inspired by Minerva, the second by Mercury, the third by Harlequin Epigram, Esq. The first is neat in his dress, the second slovenly, the third uncomfortable. The first speaks adagio, the second allegretto, the third both together. The first is Swiftean, the second Tom-Crib-ean [a reference to Thomas Moore’s Tom Crib’s Memorial to Congress, 1819], the third Shandean. And yet these three Eans are not three Eans but one Ean.”

Q:  How is a poem like a shoe?
A:  It holds up a cosmos.  Molds to the shape of its wearer.   Comes in all shapes and sizes.  It can sit in a dark closet for a long while and still speak to us—of former lives, of the seasons, of the future.  It can become an addiction, a site of projection, an ego booster, a trusted favorite.  It has a life, a perfume, of its own.   It keeps us, as Whitman says, “afoot with our vision.”

The Dutch have a cure for older people afraid of injuring themselves: classes on how to fall properly.

As a poet, I like being the one who is awake while others sleep — the watcher, the one who courts by choice that liminal space between sleep and waking, where “reality” and inner vision blur, and all the big questions loom with heightened clarity.

Lisa Russ Spaar’s fifth collection of poetry, Orexia is a work that flies and crawls with creatures of all kinds—“mercurial cardinals” are accompanied by an “unflinching owl,” along with moles, deer, a thieving hare. (Not to mention human creatures.) According to Lisa, mistakes are not to be edited, but noticed, and collected ... and shown to human rats ... 

In “Temple Gaudete ,” the speaker wonders, “Can a word have a soul? How move / from one to the next without dying?” But even though the speaker warns us to see the death that is beyond “mere words,” and perhaps, in fact, between those words, the poet ultimately controls this fear for us, as readers. Desire, appetite, orexia, is decidedly separate from satiation. To reach is not to grasp. Hunger ends when digestion commences. Pure appetite is inconsummate. For Spaar, orexia is life itself, lest we fall silent to the “carnage always in any talk // of awe beyond language.”

Autobiography with Joseph

Father of Daughters

I always figured I'd be the father
of daughters the way a zebra imagines
he must one day be a meal
of pulpy purple meat, ribcage
picked clean, and so prepares himself
on the great, grassy plains
where rubber-necked vultures
practice disinterest, and lions wait
for a break in formation,
though most days sink into pink
horizons, and are warm and fine
but for the priming of his heart. I always
figured I'd be the father of daughters,
and now that I am, I am torn apart.


Denis Johnson was a prodigy, an American Rimbaud. Then, suddenly, he wasn’t. Heroin, alcohol, and the IRS followed, as did great writing. genius  

Resurfaced recently by Austin Kleon in his weekly newsletter, I missed this Nov 2016 list from Curbed of 101 books about where and how we live the first time around. The list is organized by category:

Why We Build features Geoff Manaugh’s A Burgler’s Guide to the City* andBuilding Stories* by Chris Ware.

Cities We Love includes Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas by Rebecca Solnit, A.J. Liebling’s Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris, and Make Way for Ducklings.

Changing Places highlights The Devil in the White City* by Erik Larson and The Levittowners: Ways of Life and Politics in a New Suburban Community by Herbert Gans.

Understanding People features Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone by Eric Klinenberg, Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns*, and Working by Studs Terkel.

And How We Live Today includes The Power Broker* and Robert Putman’sBowling Alone.
I love the inclusion of Busy, Busy Town and Make Way for Ducklings. Books marked by an asterisk I have read or can otherwise personally vouch for. If I could recommend just one book to read from this list, it would be The Warmth of Other Suns.