Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Report to the Academy

Just read some of the nice things that Josh is saying about me over in his part of the Blogger servers, and felt compelled to mention what a fantastic poem he has in "Kiosk/Stylus." It's a Manhattan poem that extends and builds upon the hard-won optimism and exuberance and joie de vivre of Crane's The Bridge, saluting Whitman as he disappears into a D.U.M.B.O basement, but that never forgets where and who and how we are, lately, and tomorrow too in all likelihood. By allowing himself some sprawl and fall, Josh has given us the clearest and most compelling and thrilling articulation of the concerns that we've watched him think through in blogland over the past couple of years, his quest for some sort of non-victimizing relationship between individuals, and I think that the urban pastoral spaces of Manhattan give him, and in turn us, some stunning glimpses of what that might feel and look like, even as "cadavers by chance and choice" remind him of what a long measurement he must make. The poem has all of the gymnastic, prepositional energy of Kevin Davies but also the wonderful collision of dictional registers that Josh is such a wonderful resource for--his language is always reaching back to the Romantics, the Metaphysicals, reaching across to Celan and Rilke. It's a vital poem, and I hope it gets the intelligent, open-hearted attention it deserves. And yes, sadly, in this line up, I think I play Eliot to his Crane. Of The Waste Land, Crane says, "good, of course, but so damn dead!"

So it was , indeed, a really great meeting we had yesterday, and an interesting pairing--my Los Angeles to his New York, even as his New York looks west to a Disneyland tucked into the N.J. Meadowlands and my Los Angeles keeps telling itself night-night stories about the rest of the country.


I've been absent from blogland for a little while, first because of an end-of-the-semester grading quarantine, and then because I am putzing around with this essay I want to write about Beckett, "semantic satiation," Twombly and some other folks but that is stalled right now as I wait for books to come in. I'm reading James' Wings of the Dove, the syntax of which keeps waltzing my mind around his litotic observations about human nature, or better said anti-nature, and his vertiginously described interior spaces. More, perhaps, on all of these things a bit later. Blonde Redhead and Nick Cave, too, and my friend Brook is in town, back from Berlin and on his way west.

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