Tuesday, February 28, 2006

It was a great weekend in extra innings. Sunday evening we had our New York engagement party at the very chic Soho House, a club to which one of Emily's friends, Mr. Benji Feldman, belongs. And I had a swell time at the reading at A & B: John Thirkield is an extremely gracious host, and I enjoyed my fellow readers, Corina Copp and Owen Sheers (who gave me a brief but surprisingly informative summary of Welsh history before the reading). And then of course there were the book acquisitions, which include:

- Owen Sheers, Skirrid Hill (available from Seren Books in Wales.) Exchanged for a copy of Selah.

- Daniel Kane, All Poets Welcome. Deeply discounted at the St. Mark's Bookshop, so go grab your own.

- Joe Brainard, I Remember. A long-contemplated impulse buy.

- Shanxing Wang, Mad Science in Imperial City. A remarkable project from an author with a remarkable bio: a couple of years after the Tiananmen Square massacre he moved to the U.S. to study mechanical engineering; while teaching at Rutgers he took some creative writing classes and something must have caught absolute fire, because Lyn Hejinian's cover blurb seems accurate:"Shanxing Wang's Mad Science in Imperial City is a work of genius. It is intended to be so, and it is saturated with the melancholy and exhibits something of the fear that genius in its machinations may produce." It's difficult to believe that this book was written by someone for whom English was not his native language; almost as difficult to believe is the fluency with which he incorporates the language of mathematics and physics (one page presents the reader with "A Poet's Representation of TTT Diagram for the Emotional Microstructures of Low Carbon Steel"). It's funny, anarchic, wrenching, and various in its forms. Here's a bit of prose selected at random:

I write Gogo's wife as he says Gilberte Goddess the black pages blending blurring banging blazing blaring bleached bluely like the birds scudding away torn by the wind across the flattened sky of the capital because this capital city is capitalized by B being the butcher's face and dressed in the purple bra of bravado of the super-lattice of inertia of impotence strings of atoms of nouns adjectives falling vertically like immortal lines in the ancient Chinese books interjection daughter dim ambiguous jade
Pretty terrific stuff, you can read a little more of it here.

- Charles Borkhuis, Alpha Ruins. A poet on the fringes of my awareness for a while; I kind of bought this because I couldn't decide which Tom Raworth book to buy, if that makes any sense.

- Arielle Greenberg, My Kafka Century. My first Action Book. She and I seem to have some parallel interests: I've also written a book that trolls the ambivalent heritage of the American-Jewish-European intellectual with a title that alludes to Kafka. Curious.

- John Tranter, Under Berlin: New Poems — 1988. Found this used at Mercer Street Books and picked it up because I'm becoming more curious about Australian poetry since I got into John Kinsella. And I'm also curious about the work of the editor of Jacket.

- Kenneth Fields, Classic Rough News. Ken was one of my teachers at Stanford; it's been a long time since he's published a new book so I thought I should snap this one up. It's sonnets or sonnet-like poems filled with wry, atmospheric, post-alcholic regret. It's almost like I'd managed to study with Richard Hugo after all.

- Joe Salerno, Dream Paintings from the Heaven of Obscurity. Okay, I bought this because I confused the author with Mark Salerno. But it's an interesting project, oddly prescient or reminiscent of Yasusada: Salerno invented a Chinese poet named Tsuei Meng Weng and wrote these "translations" of his work. I find them rather convincing, which maybe says more about my ignorance of Chinese poetry than it does about their "authenticity," so to speak.

- James Scully, Line Break: Poetry as Social Practice. I've read around in a library copy of this 1988 book; it's just been re-issued by Curbstone Press. Not the least part of its appeal is Scully's cosmopolitanism: many if not most of his touchstone poets are not American (Roque Dalton, Adonis, Tadeusz Rosewicz), who wrote/write from situations of political extremis, as our situation has become. I'd like to become a little less provincial myself—to discover resources for imagination and resistance beyond English.

1 comment:

C. H. said...

Hi there. For what it's worth, I think you'll really enjoy Brainard's I REMEMBER. It's a quick read but nearly every page has something that resonates. I've used it to teach college students the importance of detail, image, etc. in the personal narrative.

Enjoying your site.


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