Meghan O’Rourke On Jack Gilbert

Because a friend reminded me how many of Gilbert’s poems entranced me, I read “The Recluse: Rescuing the poet Jack Gilbert from Oblivion” by Meghan O’Rourke and found this captivating:

All Gilbert’s poems have a distinct movement, a fluidity of perception that relies little on narrative, and a great deal on the contrast between finely observed detail and perfunctory sentence fragments.

Also: “Poetry Is A Kind Of Lying”


Three Links

  1. Rude And Reckless: Punk/Post-Punk Graphics, 1976-1982
  2. J. G. Ballard’s Terminal Documents
  3. Last Year At Marienbad: “return to the ice palace”


From “Movement As Language”

I hate to simply copy-and-paste what has been posted here, but it’s been around three years, and I figure I’ll focus more on poet Laura Riding than on choreographer Len Lye. I’ve been interested in Riding, since I read these interviews with Lisa Samuels, so seeing these portions from the 1935 essay “Movement as Language,” er, moved me. Now I want to read the entire thing:

Movement is the result of a feeling in one thing of strong difference from other things.  Movement is always one thing moving away from other things – not toward.  And the result of movement is to be distinct from other things : the result of movement is form.  The history of any definite form is the movement of which the form is the result.  When we look at something and see the particular shape of it we are only looking at its after-life.  Its real life is the movement by which it got to be that shape.  The danger of thinking of physical things in terms of form rather than of movement is that a shape can easily seem more harmonious, more sympathetic with other shapes than its historical individuality justifies : there is a literary temptation to give it too much meaning, to read truth-signs where there are only life-signs.  But if we think of physical things in terms of movement we avoid the confusion of “life” with “truth”.  Movement is strickly the language of life.  It expresses nothing but the initial, living connotations of life.  It is earliest language.

Strangers Thoughts

From “People Are Stranger: Listening To Graham Foust” by David B. Olsen:

If there are to be strangers at all, we cannot know them — but we also cannot ignore them. The stranger simply must be there, and we must see or sense him, there, with us, lingering at the far margins of familiarity. There are no strangers in isolation. Rather, the encounter with the stranger — this moment of the register — is also an affirmation of our own strangeness.

From “A Conversation With Robert Fernandez” at/with THERMOS:

Lyric language might as convincingly be described (and accessed) as a kind of haunted singing which makes that which is most familiar to us, language, strange, and in so doing reveals the human being’s essential strangeness—reveals that one is constituted by difference and always at home in otherness.

(The title of this blog entry refers to a song I liked a lot in the ’80s.)

Three Poems From NOO Journal

Gesticulation—it is half the language
carelessly nailed, looking like nothing at all,
the coming back from going where and touching.

Three Poems From Hayden’s Ferry Review Issue 48

Deposit a theory in the gutter, bank or mud.
Haunt that choice.  Invest in a voice

                  …In this scene, I am not
Li Mu Bai. I am the sword:

When bent, bend. When pricked and injected with contrast, bite
down on the scent in your mouth like skunk’s sour. Janine, come to.

Now, Sing

I’m back, not only to this blog but also from a trip to Singapore to celebrate my son’s third birthday and my fourth wedding anniversary.

The last time I was in Singapore–during my honeymoon–was before I became interested in Singaporean poetry. In the four years since that last visit, I began graduate school and heard about publishers like Firstfruits and bookstores like Books Actually.

When one of my sisters moved to Singapore, she became my contact point and sent me old copies of now-defunct lit journal Singa, the first two issues of new journal Ceriph, and a set of titles recommended to her by someone at Books Actually.

That was more than enough to get my blood roaring and last week, I was finally able to beef up my collection further. I went to Books Actually twice (and spent more than an hour both times) and passed by the more mainstream bookstore chains, though it was only in the Borders at Parkway Parade that I bought something else.

Since my wife and I are planning to pay another visit this November–if we can save up for it–I’ve decided to keep a list of titles. It isn’t much, so far, and it doesn’t include Yeow Kai Chai‘s Pretend I’m Not Here, which is the book of Singaporean poetry I most want to buy (thanks to this review).

But more than ten is good enough to list down, I think, so here’s my list of books of Singaporean poetry.