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Messages - Richard Gilbert

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1
UPDATE:
The KPFK interview has been aired, and the podcast is available for listening and free download:

KPFK Poets Cafe - Richard Gilbert, by Poets Cafe
http://poetscafe.podomatic.com/entry/2016-01-27T21_35_10-08_00


RADIO: HAIKU! -
Poets Cafe with Richard Gilbert & Co-Host Deborah P. Kolodji
Presented by Lois P. Jones,
Poets Cafe, KPFK Radio - Los Angeles 90.7 fm.

WED. January 27th
TIME: 8:30 P.M. PST
www.kpfk.org (Listen Live)
Additional information and comments, posted on Facebook:

[Note. THURS. January 28, 12:30pm, in Japan]

Event page:
Poets Cafe with Richard Gilbert & Co-Host Deborah P. Kolodji
https://www.facebook.com/events/848866728558011/

The show will be archived as a podcast at KPFK, and also will be available on the Rattle:Poetry blog, hosted by Timothy Green (editor):

KPFK Podcast Archive:
http://archive.kpfk.org/

Rattle: Poetry (Tim Green's blog):
http://www.timothy-green.org/blog/

This show was recorded last summer -- January 27th will be its first public broadcast. A personal thanks to Debbie for making it all happen and for co-hosting, to Lois, a delightful interviewer & poet, and to Marlena who produced the show. Hope you all enjoy it, we certainly did.

Poets Cafe is presented on the second, fourth, & fifth Wednesdays at 8:30 PM.

[Tech. note: Year 2015 average listenership (listed by "Arbitron") at 130,000. With its 110,000 watt main transmitter atop Mount Wilson, KPFK is one of the most powerful FM stations in the western United States. The station can be heard from the California/Mexico border to Santa Barbara to Ridgecrest/China Lake. KPFK (90.7 FM) is a listener-sponsored radio station which serves the Greater Los Angeles Area, and also streams 24 hours a day via the Internet. It was the second of five stations in the non-commercial, listener-sponsored Pacifica Radio network (wiki).]

2
UPDATE:
The KPFK interview has been aired, and the podcast is available for listening and free download:

KPFK Poets Cafe - Richard Gilbert, by Poets Cafe
http://poetscafe.podomatic.com/entry/2016-01-27T21_35_10-08_00


RADIO: HAIKU! -
Poets Cafe with Richard Gilbert & Co-Host Deborah P. Kolodji
Presented by Lois P. Jones,
Poets Cafe, KPFK Radio - Los Angeles 90.7 fm.

WED. January 27th
TIME: 8:30 P.M. PST
www.kpfk.org (Listen Live)
Additional information and comments, posted on Facebook:

[Note. THURS. January 28, 12:30pm, in Japan]

Event page:
Poets Cafe with Richard Gilbert & Co-Host Deborah P. Kolodji
https://www.facebook.com/events/848866728558011/

The show will be archived as a podcast at KPFK, and also will be available on the Rattle:Poetry blog, hosted by Timothy Green (editor):

KPFK Podcast Archive:
http://archive.kpfk.org/

Rattle: Poetry (Tim Green's blog):
http://www.timothy-green.org/blog/

This show was recorded last summer -- January 27th will be its first public broadcast. A personal thanks to Debbie for making it all happen and for co-hosting, to Lois, a delightful interviewer & poet, and to Marlena who produced the show. Hope you all enjoy it, we certainly did.

Poets Cafe is presented on the second, fourth, & fifth Wednesdays at 8:30 PM.

[Tech. note: Year 2015 average listenership (listed by "Arbitron") at 130,000. With its 110,000 watt main transmitter atop Mount Wilson, KPFK is one of the most powerful FM stations in the western United States. The station can be heard from the California/Mexico border to Santa Barbara to Ridgecrest/China Lake. KPFK (90.7 FM) is a listener-sponsored radio station which serves the Greater Los Angeles Area, and also streams 24 hours a day via the Internet. It was the second of five stations in the non-commercial, listener-sponsored Pacifica Radio network (wiki).]

3
Field Notes / Re: Field Notes 7: Off-topic discussion
« on: August 09, 2014, 05:10:08 AM »
Quote from: Philip Rowland
the versions we ended up with were:

安死術夜戦の谷の蟹にある
anshi jutsu yasen no tani no kani ni aru

clean kills: in a night war a canyon a crab

         -- Hirahata Seito

and

砲音に鳥獣魚介冷え曇る
houon ni choujuu gyokai hie kumoru

at the shriek of artillery
birds beasts fish shellfish
chilling dim

           -- Saito Sanki

My guess is that the second of these is more in need of revision, tho the first is tricky, too...
Right! Thanks Phil. There is the weird (creepy/horrific/ironic) rhyme-sense-rhythm of "no tani no kani ni aru" [lit. night war's canyon's/valley's crab is /: a crab exists]. And Sanki's "hie kumoru" [chilling dim] is about as bizarre in Japanese as English. Ito and I had many discussions about this. I was tempted to think of "hie kumoru" as "extinction" (of all life, of wildlife, or ? but perhaps this is conceptually overwrought). In the end, our imaginations failed us -- we finally returned to just trying to say in English what it says in Japanese, without a further "figuring out." I wonder if a sensitive bilingual poet/translator might offer an alternate translation -- Fay, where are you!?


4
Field Notes / Re: Field Notes 7: Off-topic discussion
« on: August 08, 2014, 09:25:28 PM »
Phil,

I'd like to draw you out a bit more, concerning your recent poet in FN7, on the topic of abstraction -- if this is even the right word. You write:

Quote
For Barthes, the quintessential haiku’s “propositions are always simple, commonplace, in a word acceptable (as we say in linguistics)”—as Ashbery’s plainly are not:

        I inch and only sometimes as far as the twisted pole gone in spare colors

Commonplace? Acceptable? The apparent absence of any concrete outside reference draws attention away from the “natural world” and towards—in the poet’s own words—“the experience of experience.” Does such abstraction necessarily preclude “evocation of haiku spirit” [found in the “The Nature of English Haiku” pamphlet]? Arguably—again with reference to the terms of the [British Haiku Society] consensus—Ashbery’s work bears witness to “the continuous flow of experience” that is intrinsic to the “haiku moment” precisely by incorporating the mediation or “interference” of language in the experiencing of that flow—or as he himself puts it, “the way a happening or experience filters through to me.” This practice does of course tend to displace more concrete subject matter, but also yields flashes of particular insight into the poetic process.

I would like to know how, and follow, your thoughts in this dimension, concerning the poem under discussion,

                    war dead
                    exit out of a blue mathematics

                                  -- Sugimura Seirinshi

I find "war dead" -- particularly placed into its contextual era of wartime Japan -- to be a much more realistic poem then the Ashbery you quote. As Paul Miller points out, there is the abstraction of "blue mathematics" -- which he takes issue with, in reference to intention or motivation. As haiku, Ashbery  goes much further. You state: "Ashbery’s work bears witness to “the continuous flow of experience” that is intrinsic to the “haiku moment” precisely by incorporating the mediation or “interference” of language in the experiencing of that flow..."

How can "interference" of language relate to the "haiku moment" -- and what do you mean by "haiku moment" within this specific area of concern? Most relevantly, how would your thoughts here apply to "war dead"?

Additionally, you quote Ashbery, concerning his haiku approach (or poetic approach): “the way a happening or experience filters through to me.” There seems a world of potential obfuscation in the word "filters." I'm not sure your point (or his point) is made clear.

I do think, if I read correctly, that you are posing a dialectic between "simple / commonplace" and (language or textual) "mediation / interference" -- yet perhaps implying that both poles of this dialectic can pertain to organic (?) expression, i.e. "the way a happening or experience filters through..." into haiku.

I find for example in Paul Miller's objection to "war dead" -- particularly where he writes:
Quote
"having an emotional reaction to a poem is the first and most important reading you should have . . . for me the abstraction distances me from a real event. The advantage realism has is that the reader is forced into a real situation that they must grapple with. "blue mathematics" is just too cute and clever for me to deal with. It also makes the poem intellectual rather than emotional--for me.

-- how much cuter and cleverer is Ashbery's "I inch and only" in this regard? Paul advances the provocative proposition:

"The advantage realism has is that the reader is forced into a real situation that they must grapple with."

I think Paul is connecting "force" here with a clearly (enough) envisioned situational reality, evinced in the reader, by the haiku. For realism, "advantage" is thus pragmatically connected with emotional impact.

Yet by contrast, it's evident that many readers share a viscerally potent emotional (as well as intellectual) reaction to "war dead." In other words, Paul's proposition is one defining (in part) his sensibility, but not that of other readers. We might inquire into what others ways emotional impact is being imparted to readers, in "war dead."

This said, I wonder if even here "emotion" is actually questionable, as an axiom to hang your hat on. I doubt that the primary intent of Ashbery's "I inch" is impactful emotional reaction (certainly not that caused by a realistic situational immediacy). You conclude differently, with "flashes of particular insight into the poetic process" -- which, for those into "flashes" (like me) would be rather an emotional thing -- though I would extend your metaphor to "dwelling" within (this concept draws on a more extended sense of "home" or psychological, rather than literal/realistic landscape, evinced by the poem). Personally, by the end of the ku "gone in spare colors" I'm dis-embodied and possessed by a feeling of 'childlike disappearance into space.' I find this ku to be rather lovingly/playfully "twisted" and a big tease. Its veracity is that it exists! (Rings the bell in terms of creative uniqueness, and idiosyncracy, and yet it's a readable, scannable non-nonsense nonsense.)  With an abundance of impossibility and uniqueness, I witness a "language" statement (proposition) and a line drawn in the sand, regarding genre in haiku.

So a further question for you -- is there any sense of (genre) direction here that we might articulate in a more embodied or pragmatic way, concerning haiku?

5
Field Notes / Re: Field Notes 7: Off-topic discussion
« on: August 08, 2014, 09:47:38 AM »
Phil,

Thanks for the reminder and emendations. So the first appearance of these poems was in Noon. Most excellent. Was there ever a conclusive translation published, of those two you posted in Japanese? I don't have my Noon copies here at home. Please feel free to post these last, if you like.


Paul,

Virtually all of my published work deals with reader-phenomenology. I think my works such as The Disjunctive Dragonfly illuminate the issue; a short comment can't suffice. My mention of "text" has to do with the process of translation. There is something in your PS that strikes me as strange. You write: " I don’t know if he wrote this standing over the dead body of a friend or from his apartment. I’d hardly equate the two." By this literalistic logic, one would need to know where all the poets were, in all the haiku, in order to judge the veracity of any and every given poem. I think there's hardly a poet that doesn't re-write/edit their works, for that matter. So, for you, I assume if in his apartment, the poem is false, and if standing over a dead body of a friend, true? I guess we should all be grilled, upon submission.

For those interested in the topic of anti-war haiku and fascism in Japan during the "Wartime Period" in relation to gendai (modern, contemporary) haiku, there is a follow-up interview (done by email exchange) between Udo Wenzel and Itô Yûki, which was published in English and German, in Haiku Heute (Germany). The English version is here:

Forgive, But Do Not Forget: Modern Haiku and Totalitarianism
Itô Yûki talks with Udo Wenzel (17 December 2007)

http://www.haiku-heute.de/Archiv/Ito_Yuki_2007-12/Ito_Yuki_2007-12_e/ito_yuki_2007-12_e.html

"I feel that, wherever they are in the world, haiku poets should not limit the possibilities of the poetry, haiku, in any sense." -- Itô Yûki (2007)

6
Field Notes / Re: Field Notes 7: Off-topic discussion
« on: August 07, 2014, 07:30:06 PM »
Phil,

You write
... that Paul Miller's

war dead
killed from calculations that I find sad

has "little to do with the original poem," but would be very surprised if he meant it to be read as a haiku
I agree in part, yet he states "it [the translated English] is essentially a rewrite of:

war dead
killed from calculations that I find sad"

It is hard to determine how unlike a haiku "essentially a rewrite" is meant to be taken. If it's not meant to approach a rewriting of a haiku, then it's merely a non sequitur. I take the implied meaning to be that

war dead
exit out of a blue mathematics

     -- Sugimura Seirinshi (trans. Richard Gilbert and Ito Yuki)

is actually of a lesser quality and value than the "essential rewrite" he penned. In this sense, I treated it as a haiku; to what extent the rewrite is meant as parody is something Paul could perhaps comment on.

As a further note, Paul writes above: "I don’t know the circumstances of this poem’s composition." Yet, Alan Summers earlier provided a link to this article:

NEW RISING HAIKU -- The Evolution of Modern Japanese Haiku and the Haiku Persecution Incident
http://www.simplyhaiku.com/SHv5n4/features/Ito.html

which well-explains the circumstances (sociopolitical context) of the poem's composition. The poem in question, "war dead..." was first published in the context of this monograph (we translated the series of anti-war haiku found within, including "war dead" as preparation for publication). I'm unclear of the exact dates of our submission of these poems to the Noon journal--certainly Noon was the first appearance of this poem, outside of the monograph. For your information, here is the group of poems we selected (out of a number) for translation:

機関銃眉間ニ殺ス花ガ咲ク                              西東三鬼
kikanjuu miken ni korosu hana ga saku         Saitô Sanki

a machine gun
in the forehead
the killing flower blooms

 
戦死者が青き数学より出たり                        杉村聖林子
sennsisha ga aoki suugaku yori detari      Sumimura Seirinshi

war dead
exit out of a blue mathematics

 
枯れし木を離れ枯れし木として撃たれ                  杉村聖林子
tareshi ki o hanare kareshi ki toshite utare    Sugimura Seirinshi

leaving a dead tree
being shot as a dead tree

 
埋めてゐて敵なることを忘れゐたり                 波止影夫
umete ite teki naru koto o wasure itari      Hashi Kageo

during burial:
this is the enemy,
forgetting


Context is important to a deeper understanding of these haiku (the monograph by Itô Yûki is gripping -- Red Moon Press was inspired to produce the monograph, at its own expense, as I recall). At the same time, I think most would agree these haiku are effective as autonomous poems, and more, are among the most powerful haiku on war we possess, in English.

7
Field Notes / Re: Field Notes 7: Off-topic discussion
« on: August 07, 2014, 06:10:05 PM »
Dear Paul,

I understand that you do not like the poem. You threw down the gauntlet when you wrote: "I have pondered and pondered this haiku . . . I think it fails. It is a bunch of twenty-five cent words when five cent words would have done. One challenge in this poem is to stand up to the new orthodoxy and point out its lack of pants."

You then re-wrote the haiku, into what struck me as a text having little to do with the original poem.

war dead
exit out of a blue mathematics

     -- Sugimura Seirinshi (trans. Richard Gilbert and Ito Yuki)

"war dead
killed from calculations that I find sad"
(English-translation, adapted, Paul Miller)

I can't consider your adaptation as haiku, as there is no cutting. You've penned an epithet, and as was pointed out, had seemingly complete disregard for the original text. We are entitled to our taste, but your critical comments: "it fails," "five cent words would have done," "lack of pants" this is another matter. It seems you are proposing your adaptation as a preferable haiku to "blue mathematics," as a way of revealing your taste and editorial position. As well, the reach of your mind, or sensibility, with regard to certain varieties of haiku. 

Any negative critique, particularly of a notable haiku (or poet), needs to be informed. It would be unconscionable, to my mind, to have the reader of your adaptation find that it in any way had to do with the original haiku. That you have put it forth as an interpretative translation -- even as haiku -- this is a matter needing to be addressed, and we have done so, above.

I'd like to briefly comment on another matter. You write: "And since haiku are considered unfinished until done so by the reader..." The experience (reader phenomenology) of a haiku is a different matter than what exists as published text. The text itself is in black & white on the page. Because this haiku appears in English with Japanese kanji/romaji, and is penned by a noted poet, the text, in terms of translation, is treated as finished. I hope you grasp the difference.

You find this poem "clever instead of heartfelt." Others strongly disagree with you. In that there are strong polarizations of opinion on this poem, it may serve as a worthy example of important differences not only in taste but in genre-sensibility -- a broader issue than this poem in particular. Recently, I read Avant-Garde Community and the Individual Talent --The Case of Language Poetry, by Marjorie Perloff (2004).

The first half of this essay contains a comprehensive discussion of the modern literary history, and types, of "avant gardes."

Reading down to the section, “Word Order = World Order”?, the irruptive syntax and intellectual and sociopolitical intent of Language poetry is described. Perloff begins by providing a quotation of an insipid poem, as contrast (“Haitian Suite” by Orr); it seems about as hackneyed, to my sensibility, as your "adaptation." Several paragraphs down, we find:

  • Bernstein had studied Wittgenstein with Stanley Cavell at Harvard, and his notion that “there are no thoughts except through language,” is a version of Wittgenstein’s “The limits of language mean the limits of my world” (1992:§5.6), that “Language is not contiguous to anything else” (1980: 112). The articles of faith of 60’s poetry–—Olson’s “Form is never more than the extension of content” and Ginsberg’s “First thought, best thought”– were thus overturned in a new call for poetry as making, construction—the importance of each and every word and especially of word order. But unlike the New Criticism, which demanded unified and centered structure, the “aura around a bright clear centre,” as Reuben Brower called it, the constructivist aesthetic of Language poetry insisted on the making process itself, in all its anti-closure, incompletion, and indeterminacy.
and

  • Here, in a nutshell, is the animating principle of much of the poetry to come: poetic language is not a window, a transparent glass to be seen through in pursuit of the “real” objects outside it but a system of signs with its own semiological relationships. To put it another way, “Language is material and primary and what’s experienced is the tension and relationship of letters and lettristic clusters, simultaneously struggling towards, yet refusing to become, significations.”

What Perloff is alluding to here in Language poetry represents a significant difference between haiku-compositional groups, regarding sensibility. Perloff's article may be useful in that it provides historical and scholarly context to how "war dead / exit out of a blue mathematics" might be received. When the poem was originally penned, it seems doubtful that there existed an appropriate literary content, which might contain (hold, support) its soul. However we are now in a post- Language poetry era, and a number of practicing poets and critics in the haiku genre, being influenced by this and succeeding movements, utilize principles and techniques stemming from it.

My example of Language poetry here may seem excessively historicist; after all, Perloff's essay is already a decade old. Yet your interpretive comments strike me as a pernicious echo of a "poet writing his or her 'sincere,' sensitive, intimate, speech-based lyric, expressing particular nuances of emotion" -- ("killed from calculations that I find sad") -- a big step back into the "naive confessional" mode, with its passe conventions.

My thought is that while Language poetry may not have always succeeded in within individual works, its intellectual (and societal) influence has become increasingly important to our literary culture over the last three decades, within and without the university. A certain number of haiku in English represent new advances in style and approach, incorporating the history Perloff discusses -- rather than denying or avoiding it.

8
Field Notes / Re: Field Notes 7: Off-topic discussion
« on: August 07, 2014, 07:45:58 AM »
Dear Agent Provocateur,

It is rather presumptuous to use 50-cent words where 5-cent words would do. This little epithet could be made much cheaper:
Quote
We kiss the golden apples that fall from your ass.
We are talking about words. About the cost of them. We shall rate them on a cost-benefit analysis, in terms of value.

At the same time, there are complications. Let's ignore such for now, and add up the word values. Our analysis runs like this:

war = 5
dead = 5
exit = 5 (possibly 10)
out of a = freebie
blue = 5
mathematics = 25
Total word cost = 45 cents (later revised to 50 cents, see below)

Analysis: We wonder which words could be cheaper than war and dead and blue. Each monosyllabic. The cost of war is high, but war itself? This is a high-frequency common noun (and historically rife, to the present). Same with the others, really. For exit: two-syllables--should we revise 5-cents upward? Call it 50 cents. This still has to be one of the cheapest haiku around. Also it's English-typical at 12 syllables. But someone might want to cheapen it a bit, as the word-cost appears -- how can we put this delicately? Effete, elite, arrogant, in some way?

My translator chimp (I mean Gilbert) seeks a suitable primitivism, for "suugaku" (hint: mathematics) in translation. He's rather limited in symbolic vocabulary (being a chimp), but even with his lame Japanese he knows that "suugaku" means only one thing. The Faculty of Mathematics in a university has a name, "Suugaku." (As the Faculty of Letters is "Bungaku (literature+study)") 数学 = suu+gaku. You can find it in the haiku in question. Now let's visit Google Translate. Enter the kanji 数学. The cheapest and only answer = "mathematics." See this:  計算 it is the kanji for "calculation, reckoning." These kanji are not in the haiku. Actually "suugaku" can mean "mathematics" or in the appropriate context "faculty of/study of mathematics." Either way there is no other word for translation which is more literal and direct than "mathematics" for this haiku. The chimp cannot find any way around it: this is pretty much exactly what the poet said in the original. The only conclusion is that the most expensive word in this haiku is the cheapest possible.

Suugaku then, is abstract, isn't it? This is not "applied mathematics" or any sort of reckoning. That would be left to the cost-benefit analysis of the reader, concerning the war dead. Perhaps there is more than a hint of semantic brutality, in a natural/blue/simple/pure mathematics. You can mess with "blue" but not with "mathematics." Unless you want to make up your own poem, just through ignorance.

So we have a very cheap haiku. Though the abstraction "mathematics" costs us dearly. But it's really worse, much, much worse. Because there is collocational neologism (an original terminological coinage, never before seen in print). You know, one of those things Shakespeare and Dickens and a (very) few other artists of repute are noted for.

戦死者が青き数学より出たり
sennsisha ga aoki suugaku yori detari 

war dead
exit out of a blue mathematics

Literally, in given word order:

戦死者 (sennsisha) = war dead (KIA)
が (ga) = (concerning [subject]: war dead)
青き数学 (aoki suugaku) = blue/natural/of nature
but! also:
unripe/unnatural (e.g. "This fruit is still "green" [unripe, not yet ready])
+ mathematics
より (yori) = showing "like" | comparison | connection
 出たり (detari) = to come out of / exit

What can we determine in our cost-benefit analysis?
青き数学 = blue mathematics. This is in no dictionary, because this collocation is the poet's neologism. If anyone wants to cheapen this poem in English, they would be wise to do away with the neologism, which is basically the same in English as in Japanese. It is true that "blue" has many added meanings in English. But then, "blue" (as "aoi") has many different meanings in Japanese, as well. In English, blue is a color of nature (ocean, sky) but also the "blue" of the blues, of sadness, tragedy, depression. In other words it (like "aoi") offers contrary, contrastive or contradictory meanings. so the use of "blue" for "blue" in Japanese is actually the only interpretive move, in the translation. The signifiers differ yet in both languages they are semantically complex and paradoxical or agonistic (polarized); a different poem is created, yet with a similar sense of agon, tension (if you can do better, talk to the gimp err, chimp).

The suggestion: "killed from calculations that I find sad" has many expensive semantic assumptions and misses entirely the creative collocation at the core -- the cornerstone of this haiku (in either language). Even a chimp can say that it is this bizzare, abstract neologism which catalyzes this poem, makes it "experimental," challenging and spare, in both languages. However in the original, it would have the added danger of alerting the Secret Police to your person, and we know the mathematics, counted in haiku poets for one, of this human cost. The poem has no "killed" (as a verb), no "calculations," no "from," no "I," and DEFINITELY no "sad." So the suggestion of

"war dead
killed from calculations that I find sad"

Is something even a chimp finds dumb. Such mistakes are expensive when it comes to recognizing the genius of a noted poet from a foreign culture. Who would turn such a work into their own kind of animal? This would be both presumptuous and aggressive. It is right and proper to question the translation. But this has not been done. There has been no questing after veracity, no attunement to questions of emulation of genre qualities or semantic or syntactical realities across cultures and languages. This is what chimps do. They work hard for the bananas.

Dear Agent Provocateur, whomever you may be, please show us your next new addition.

No speak, no see, no hear: Three monkeys
(Apparently, it's what we do.)

9
Field Notes / Re: Field Notes 7: Off-topic discussion
« on: August 07, 2014, 04:35:56 AM »
Dear Agent Provocateur,

Whomever you are. We kiss the golden apples that fall from your ass.

As a note, on the translation of 青き "aoki" into English. It is quite impossible. "Blue" here might actually be "green" or "natural" or "nature" or "as nature" -- we may continue to tease it. Go back far enough in haiku/Japanese poetic history, and there was no "green" only "blue" for nature. Recall even the recent "aoi yama" (green mountains -- literally, blue mountains) from Santoka. You might ask why we purposefully chose "blue" here.

We remain impersonally yours, for the blue are counted dead. You are not wrong to chose otherwise. As well you are not. Pathetically so. It's good we are not at war. Is an ocean blue? Or the sky? There is actually more in Japanese than meets the eye; no accounting for taste.

"This last haiku is in itself an effective argument for experimentation in art." (M.T.) We concur.

10
Field Notes / Field Notes 7: Challenge
« on: August 07, 2014, 02:52:55 AM »
The Elsewhere Community — Home, Haiku and Personal Challenge

(What is your personal challenge?) Poetry and haiku in particular are a means that may make visible, touchable, present what has been sensed yet distant, un-reachable, hidden. Haiku — both mystical and mundane, depending on your own equation regarding self in relation to society. The “mystical versus the mundane.” To note those poetic works that touch one to the core — of unknown lands roamed as home, in Greek oikos from which is derived “ecos,” ecology. The challenge of living what haiku poses, explores for the reader. A certain sense of music, the taste of love, in or out of time. What does imagination seek? Where do we really live?

(Can you show us, and talk about, one or more poems which you find personally challenging? Discuss the work of a given poet, or more than one poet, whom you find challenging?) Selections from The Disjunctive Dragonfly [DD] (RMP, 2013):


sore to the touch his name in my mouth

Eve Luckring, 2011,
MH 42.3 (DD p.34)

“Luckring presents a complex texture of perceptual near-synesthesia, as pain (mixed with bliss?) combines with touch, metaphor and identity - also within an intimate context, yet one given ambivalently, as it may be read with multiple (and mutually exclusive) readings.”


in tune with its obstacles, rain

Eve Luckring, 2012,
MH 43.3 (DD p.35)

“A sense of musical analogy and aural space inhabits Luckring’s ku, with the sound of rain shaping the sense of what those obstacles may be: physical, emotional, psychological? The disjunctive paradox of “in tune” offers notions of harmony.”


a long hard lie swells into perjury. spit or swallow?

Eve Luckring, 2012,
RR 12.2 (DD p.59)


bleeding under my skin the American dream

Eve Luckring, 2010,
RR 10.1 (DD p.63)


throbbing stars
the tilt
of my pelvis

Eve Luckring, 2013,
FP 36:1 (DD p.68)

“Here, the “stars” become ambiguous, as the slang “seeing stars” versus literal stars. As well, stars may seem to throb; “misreading as meaning” is likewise strongly present.”


deep in the thrust where another day breaks

Eve Luckring, 2012,
RR 12.2 (DD p.71)


blue moon
her milk
comes in

Eve Luckring, 2010,
MH 41.2 (DD p.77)


or a nun bared to the bone shined night

Eve Luckring, 2013,
RR 13.1 (DD p.91)


inside a bat’s ear
a rose
opens to a star

Eve Luckring, 2011,
RR 11.3 (DD p.99)


Breaking through the illusive dream of false images and maps we live within. Alice through the mirror steps into love, into bliss? To kiss the sky, to hook up? That poems are prayers, chants, gifts, only partly bidden — and what of the breath, a word which means “psyche”? On the edge balanced, breathing; gendered, utterly embodied. Sensuous as Lucifer the "light bringer," Eve Luckring finds the Elsewhere community, “where another day breaks, bared to the bone shined night.” Challenging in the best way, waking up to home again, refreshed, having crossed the Alps, taken the Grand Tour.

Richard Gilbert

Notes.
The Elsewhere Community, by Hugh Kenner (2000; pdf, excerpt)

Hugh Kenner and the Invention of Modernism, by Marjorie Perloff (Modernism/Modernity, 12, no 3, September 2005: 465-70.)

11
Field Notes / Re: Field Notes 5: Criticism
« on: April 30, 2014, 09:00:07 PM »
'Literature and Society: The Vanished Debate'

Continuing on the theme of criticism in relation to the poem, the self (oneself), the author, institution, canon (&c.). With a focus on the question of talent. Just below, are seven prescient paragraphs by Martin Amis, elucidating Robbbins' perspective, though with greater scope (from a British perspective it hardly needs mentioning). I'll place the "FN5 'linking'" replies after the Amis quotation, to illustrate connections within this ongoing thread. Do you find Amis accurate, relevant, illuminating here?

"Foreword," Martin Amis, The War Against Cliché: Essays and Reviews 1971-2000
Winner of the 2001 National Book Critics Circle award for criticism.

Quote
[The 1970s] now seems unrecognizably remote. I had a day job at the Times Literary Supplement. Even then I sensed discrepancy, as I joined an editorial conference (to help prepare, perhaps, a special number on Literature and Society), wearing shoulder-length hair, a flower shirt, and knee-high tricoloured boots (well-concealed, it is true, by the twin tepees of my flared trousers). My private life was middle-bohemian — hippyish and hedonistic, if not candidly debauched; but I was very moral when it came to literary criticism. I read it all the time, in the tub, on the tube; I always had about me my Edmund Wilson — or my William Empson. I took it seriously. We all did. We hung around the place talking about literary criticism. We sat in pubs and coffee bars talking about W.K. Wimsatt and G. Wilson Knight, about Richard Hoggart and Northrop Frye, about Richard Poirier, Tony Tanner and George Steiner. It might have been in such a locale that my friend and colleague Clive James first formulated his view that, while literary criticism is not essential to literature, both are essential to civilization. Everyone concurred. Literature, we felt, was the core discipline; criticism explored and popularized the significance of that centrality, creating a space around literature and thereby further exalting it. The early Seventies, I should add, saw the great controversy about the Two Cultures: Art v. Science (or F.R. Leavis v. C.P. Snow). Perhaps the most fantastic thing about this cultural moment was that Art seemed to be winning.

Literary historians know it as the Age of Criticism. It began, let us suggest, in 1948, with the publication of Eliot's Notes Towards the Definition of Culture and Leavis's The Great Tradition. What ended it? The brutalist answer would consist of a single four-letter word: OPEC. In the Sixties you could live on ten shillings a week: you slept on people's floors and sponged off your friends and sang for your supper — about literary criticism. Then, abruptly, a bus fare cost ten shillings. The oil hike, and inflation, and then stagflation, revealed literary criticism as one of the many leisure-class fripperies we would have to get along without. Well, that's how it felt. But it now seems clear that literary criticism was inherently doomed. Explicitly or otherwise it had based itself on a structure of echelons and hierarchies; it was about the talent elite. And the structure atomized as soon as the forces of democratization gave their next concerted push.

Those forces — incomparably the most potent in our culture -have gone on pushing. And they are now running up against a natural barrier. Some citadels, true, have proved stormable. You can become rich without having any talent (via the scratchcard and the rollover jackpot). You can become famous without having any talent (by abasing yourself on some TV nerdothon: a clear improvement on the older method of simply killing a celebrity and inheriting the aura). But you cannot become talented without having any talent. Therefore, talent must go.

Literary criticism, now almost entirely confined to the universities, thus moves against talent by moving against the canon.

Academic preferment will not come from a respectful study of Wordsworth's poetics; it will come from a challenging study of his politics - his attitude to the poor, say, or his unconscious 'valorization' of Napoleon; and it will come still faster if you ignore Wordsworth and elevate some (justly) neglected contemporary, by which process the canon may be quietly and steadily sapped. A brief consultation of the Internet will show that meanwhile, at the other end of the business, everyone has become a literary critic — or at least a book-reviewer. Democratization has made one inalienable gain: equality of the sentiments. I think Gore Vidal said this first, and he said it, not quite with mockery, but with lively scepticism. He said that, nowadays, nobody's feelings are more authentic, and thus more important, than anybody else's. This is the new credo, the new privilege. It is a privilege much exercised in the contemporary book-review, whether on the Web or in the literary pages. The reviewer calmly tolerates the arrival of the new novel or slim volume, defensively settles into it, and then sees which way it rubs him up. The right way or the wrong way. The results of this contact will form the data of the review, without any reference to the thing behind. And the thing behind, I am afraid, is talent, and the canon, and the body of knowledge we call literature.

Probably some readers are getting the impression that I think these developments are to be deplored. Not so. It is the summit of idleness to deplore the present, to deplore actuality. Say whatever else you like about it, the present is unavoidable. And we, in the Seventies, were frequently ridiculous, too, with our Fallacies and our Seven Types (and Leavis's besieged intensity was ridiculous. His shaping embarrassment, however, was to nominate as his model for sanity the person of D.H. Lawrence). Emotional egalitarianism, for example, looks hard to attack. I honour it, in a way, but it has to me the pale glow of illusion. It is Utopian, which is to say that reality cannot be expected to support it. Then, too, these 'feelings' are seldom unadulterated; they are admixtures of herd opinions and social anxieties, vanities, touchinesses, and everything else that makes up a self.

One of the historical vulnerabilities of literature, as a subject for study, is that it has never seemed difficult enough. This may come as news to the buckled figure of the book-reviewer, and to the literary critic, but it's true. Hence the various attempts to elevate it, complicate it, systematize it. Interacting with literature is easy. Anyone can join in, because words (unlike palettes and pianos) lead a double life: we all have a competence. It is not surprising, therefore, that individual sensitivities come so strongly into play; not surprising, either, that the discipline has rolled over for democratization far more readily than, for example, chemistry and Ancient Greek. In the long term, though, literature will resist levelling and revert to hierarchy. This isn't the decision of some snob of a belletrist. It is the decision of Judge Time, who constantly separates those who last from those who don't.

Let me run, for a while, with an extended simile. Literature is the great garden that is always there and is open to everyone twenty-four hours a day. Who tends it? The old tour guides and sylviculturists, the wardens, the fuming parkies in their sweat-soaked serge: these have died off. If you do see an official, a professional, nowadays, then he's likely to be a scowl in a labcoat, come to flatten a forest or decapitate a peak. The public wanders, with its oohs and ahs, its groans and jeers, its million opinions. The wanderers feed the animals, they walk on the grass, they step in the flowerbeds. But the garden never suffers. It is, of course, Eden; it is unfallen and needs no care.


Thematic links, back through this thread:
Eve Luckring wrote (Reply #1 on: January 25, 2014):
"I appreciate criticism that makes me think about an artwork/poem, or an artist's/poet's body of work, in a new way. Usually this is because the critic puts the object of discussion in context of something bigger:

--the histories that surround the work,
--the formal attributes of the work in relation to other poetry/art (of the past or present),
--the social/cultural context that the work intersects with
--the life experiences and artistic/philosophical inquiry of the artist/poet

A good critic has to be very well informed.
. . .
I think only a very small percentage of the "haiku community" has interest in the type of more scholarly criticism I crave. This makes me sad because I feel this type of reflection and contemplation--thinking about how something works and the contexts that surround it-- can help deepen our relationship to what we do."

Mark Harris wrote (Reply #27 on: February 13, 2014):
"Years ago, I went to art school to study painting. Art handling was a way to pay the bills at first; all these years later, here I am still doing it. It's good work. To hold a Rubens, a Maya chocolate drinking cup, or an Albers in my hands can be a thrill. And to share them with the public, that's also a thrill. . . . Painting is dead, people have been saying ever since [cf. c. 1961, Albers, the height of Modernism], and yet it never quite does die. "

Eve Luckring wrote (Reply #36 on: February 19, 2014):
"It fascinated me that Grenier was removed from the latest edition of Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology, presumably to make room for some new additions, or..."

I wrote in reply to Eve (Reply #37: February 22, 2014), linking to an article on the evolution of (mainly) poetic criticism within succeeding eras, with a focus on the contemporary moment (a new major anthology):

"Ripostes"
Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology, by Paul Hoover, ed.
Review by Michael Robbins (July 2013): http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/article/246092

I commented: "This essay ably demonstrates not only excellent criticism, but also some of the reasons why criticism is vital in arts culture. Within are longstanding issues in contemporary criticism: canonicity, institutions (& -alities), academia, in-groups, posturing, poetry versus ideology."

Mark Harris commented (Reply #83: March 07, 2014) ("...continuing some ideas offered by Richard and Phil on frames of reference, and Eve's more recent comment posted on 3/4/14"):

"Who is the author? Where does the power reside? Not so clear."

12
Field Notes / Re: Field Notes 5: Criticism
« on: March 04, 2014, 12:33:15 PM »
Phil, an intriguing series of thoughtful steps, from:
Quote
... re editorial style of presentation of haiku having perhaps to do with to its future as a genre, that this can be seen as a (creative) kind of criticism -- with a role to play in haiku criticism.

To:
Quote
Whether, for instance, a normative 3-line haiku appears among similar haiku or juxtaposed with a long-lined short poem in stanzas with a title may affect the kind of attention you pay to it. The change of pace will give you pause; the formal differences might make you consider the choice of form -- its appropriateness or limitation -- more carefully than you would otherwise; at the same time you might read with a keener eye for what the two poems have in common, how they relate thematically and play off or deepen one another.

To:
Quote
On a larger scale, this may touch on a new sense of poetic community (or commonality), which may in turn shift the critical mindset or frame of reference.

This last especially interests me, in that you are grounding the "larger scale" of "a new sense of poetic community" and potential "shift [in] the critical mindset" in the particular: the smaller-scale experience of reading poems -- qualitatively unique experiences of aesthetic savor or arrest (e.g. "the change of pace will give you pause") -- something mentioned earlier, in determining excellence. An editor may (with permission) willfully re-arrange lineation and layout (and create sequences), as a creative act.This has rarely been done in the haiku genre.

Earlier quoted was "glazed with rain/water/ /beside the white/chickens" whose layout remains striking (sense of breath and space, objective breaking of syntax). Today, was reading WCW's "Young Woman At a Window" A) as part of a two-poem series; then examining the two published versions of the poem: 1) Version 1 and 2) Version 2.

How charged the same poem becomes when it follows "The Raper From Passenack" (pub. 1935; definitely not a "chicken" poem) in A) (and note the 3-line/disjunctive "haikuesque" style of "The Raper's" stanzas); how differently 1) & 2) read from each other. Each its own universe. (I note WCW's signature lineational style -- one rarely applied to haiku/sequences. Martone sometimes lineates similarly -- I often reflect on WCW, reading him.) This, by way of example.

13
Field Notes / Re: Field Notes 5: Criticism
« on: March 03, 2014, 08:08:34 PM »
Jack, you said
As to baseball haiku, no I don't recognize its excellence . . .

Why not? What's the issue? The topic is haiku and excellence. Could you quote say 2 or 3 haiku (not your own) that you feel have excellence, by contrast?

14
Field Notes / Re: Field Notes 5: Criticism
« on: March 03, 2014, 10:25:19 AM »
Jack,

I think you are way off topic -- we could start a different thread in the "in depth discussion" section of the forum on this (your focus and brief).

That said I know what you mean. You wrote "Thank God for Karen Cesar!!" (Two exclamation points, my god.) You wrote:
Quote
Whether there is realism or not does not matter given the self-signifying nature of language, right? It is always language speaking itself, never achieving a cinch with the world- even the basic premise that language is abstract and cannot refer to individual existences should suffice to close the argument on realism.

So as Karen wrote:
Quote
A question I have had for sometime regarding the notion of a "haiku ghetto" and the perceived desirability of promoting haiku to a wider audience is this: Such books as 'Baseball Haiku'...

Do you then place "baseball haiku" (being as language-self-referential as anything else) into a similar arena as, well, the kinds of things you aren't recognized for? (And really, who is recognized for any haiku?) I think your notion of a fait accompli concerning realism misses the point: the problem of, and assumed stance, of literalism.

Now tell me literalism is a language feature, and I'll ask you about paying the rent. As per Peter's post, above? We do move now away from excellence in haiku. So let's move back into it. Jack: can you speak directly to what strikes you as valuable, in terms of excellence in haiku -- succinctly, as possible. As you know, I think (mono-dimensional, fixated) literalistic thinking is a kind of pathology, and it's a problem vis haiku and excellence, for me. What resonates with you?

A further goad. pnewton posted Anita Virgil's "Do's." Here is
Quote
#4.    Does it avoid simile, metaphor, personification, clichés?

False, false, false, true (if cliché is merely that, lacking deformation, irony or what have you). It's also hard to think of haiku as an "it" -- but I quibble.


15
Field Notes / Re: Field Notes 5: Criticism
« on: March 03, 2014, 09:11:46 AM »
Phil,

Thanks for your further thoughts -- and for the eclectic list! Each new name will be an exploration. I've commented to you before that one of the aspects of Noon that has influenced me is the sense I feel of content-selection as "community" (I think of a forest) -- with a sense of reader-journey. As well, to an extent there are (with a light touch)  thematic issues woven through the pages -- one might opine this approach, intentionally or not, intriguingly addresses issues of narrative and "story" vis a vis haiku. I appreciate the editorial vision and clarity. This may sound like flattery, but what the hell.

I mention this because I too feel potential in the sequence, or strands of sequences. I was not exactly joking with "let's say ... that haiku [are approached as] ghetto enough that the individual poem (and poet) can never be claimed as a true center. That it takes an anthology 'to make a village.' This would be interesting..."  For sure, there have been some powerful single-author collections of late. I don't want to imply a diminishment of the importance of personal achievement -- on the other hand, the fact that haiku can "speak" to each other, via editorial placement -- I feel this potency in the genre is critically under-appreciated. That Noon blends what are considered haiku with more extensive poetic forms is likewise provocative.

I doubt that readers or critics (or authors, perhaps) are quite prepared for the idea of an editor "cohering" multiple works of a variety of authors into a single co-authored work -- I'd like to see a book like this. Reader-journey: I think about this, and I imagine you also consider this aspect deeply, within the process of developing a Noon issue?

(The mea culpa here for going off-topic is that editorial excellence, in terms of presentation, may perhaps be relevant to the future of haiku as a genre.)


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