Sunday, March 25, 2012

Docupoem as elegy: collage of docupoetry students & prof on Kristin Prevallet's _I, Afterlife_












  The breath whose might I have invoked in song
  Descends on me; my spirit’s bark is driven,
  Far from the shore, far from the trembling throng
  Whose sails were never to the tempest given;        490
  The massy earth and spher├Ęd skies are riven!
  I am borne darkly, fearfully, afar;
  Whilst, burning through the inmost veil of Heaven,
  The soul of Adonais, like a star,
Beacons from the abode where the Eternal are.        495

Percy B. Shelley, "Adonais"


 
This is a book working towards the embracing of uncertainty, of doubt, of the fact that there are holes in what we find meaningful, what we want to be meaningful.  (Jerrold)


Not that your sense of time is 'distorted'.  What's changed is more radical than that.  Simply, you are no longer in time.  (Denise Riley, "Time lived, without its flow")


It's as if any death causes the collapse of the simplest referring language.  As if the grammatical subject of the sentence and the human subject have been felled together by the one blow.  (DR)


Another way to think about this section is to recognize it as failure, as just words following rules of grammar, signs that are empty, but whose structure comforts us.  (Aiko)
 
Dementia is bricolage, is collage, is mixed-up syntax.  It is nothing new.  To describe it is to say nothing new.  It cannot be analyzed, because its origins, and its ends, cannot be located.  The maps are hanging from laundry lines in a humid country; the ink that is their roads has dripped off the dark paper that had enclosed them.   (SMS, Dementia Blog)


The separation of sound from sequence would chip away at consecutive thinking, and so at the whole principle of induction.  That this is exactly what can happen in the aftermath of a sudden death ...  (DR)

"Nothing" is closure" (15). This kills me, and defines my attitude to visiting graves, especially my grandfather's. I've only done it once, since he died, and I can't really explain to my family why, unless I point them to these three words. It's not that I have an uneasy feeling about cemeteries, or the thought of my decomposing grandfather under my feet. I think I just have a different ritual for remembrance; one that involves bowing over a blank page, or caring for the people that he spent his entire life sweating and bleeding for.  (Donovan)

Dementia as poetic form.  Reverse Stein: not insistence, but repetition.  Repetition as diminishment.  Nothing accrues.  Sentences do not stick to each other; the mind is humid, deflects meaning as something that becomes, as a post-it note flutters off a solid surface.  Meaning happens only as instances of it tear apart.  (SMS)
 
It feels as if some palpable cerebral alteration has taken place.  (DR)
 
With Blue – uncertain – stumbling Buzz –
Between the light – and me –
And then the Windows failed – and then
I could not see to see –   (ED)
 
Prevallet's mourning is made whole by filling her gaps and spatial distances with “their own energies, force fields, and pulls.” She finds sustenance in these "anti-matter items" and works to “find in holes a certain kind of completion.” (60).  (Amalia)
 
What is the prosody of dementia, and can it vary without altering what it is?  Look at is.  Really look at it.  To find meaning there is to flinch.  To flinch is to make a necessary sound of this.  (SMS)

But once there's no longer any element of sequence because the sensation of flowing time has been halted, narration can't proceed.  (DR)
  
I find KP's fearless inhabitation and exploration of the gap, or void, left after a loss to be refreshing in our present day culture that allows for no gaps; no gaps in productivity, no gaps in moving forward, no gaps in information, no gaps in conversations, no gaps in time, no gaps in space.  No gaps and precious little silence.  Instead of joining the herd of positively pushing forward, Prevallet asks us to;  “Be. Negatively. Capable.” (48)   (Lynn)

--She asks me the difference between eulogy and elegy.  (SMS)
 For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime,
Young Lycidas, and hath not left his peer:
Who would not sing for Lycidas? he knew [ 10 ]
Himself to sing, and build the lofty rhyme.
He must not flote upon his watry bear
Unwept, and welter to the parching wind,
Without the meed of som melodious tear.    (John Milton)
Prevallet is defiant: “I’m a shrine builder” (58). Generic phrases such as “the twelve stages of grief” and “maximum efficiency” enact the assumption that shrines are static and unmoving (58). Consequently, pamphlet closure recommends mourners to dismantle shrines for the sake of “moving on” and “letting go.” However, as Prevallet demonstrates, these assumptions do not consider the various ways objects and spatial arrangements evolve in response to mourning; as if memory-making is not dynamic and effervescent. Prevallet states: “I don’t see it so much as holding on to my dead parents, but rather holding on to an awareness of spatial distance.  (No`u)

A sculptural imagination rises to grip you.  The intuited hollow of the old shelter for the living child [or parent] has now been gouged out of you.  That was the space of the child's past, which used to lie like an inner shell enveloped by your own time.   (DR)
 
--We used to write elegies for the dead, and they became stars in our firmament.  I write of my mother in her dying, not past it.  The prepositions are always the hardest.  These words are for her, through you.  The poem is a vessel of blood.  (SMS)

The cost of recovering your conventional apprehension of flowing time is intolerably high.  The dead slip away, as unwillingly we realise that we have left them behind us in their timelessness.  (DR)

Scatter these well-meant idioms
Into the smoky spring that fills
The suburbs, where they will be lost.
They are no trophies of the sun.  (Hart Crane, "Praise for an Urn")

“I am filled with holes.”  (KP)

__________

Some questions:
1.  Shrines or symphonies?  Tombs or laments?  Objects or sounds?
2.  Time before?  Time after?  Time as?  In time?  Out of it?
3.   Comment on Riley's sentence: "It's not the same 'I' who lives in her altered sense of no-time, but a reshaped person."
4.  Make a list of your holes.  Make a vow, when you write, not to fill them in.

Note:

I can't label this I, Afterlife, because my computer changes "I" instantly to Daniel K. Inouye. 

My essay on Denise Riley, adoption and quotation can be found here.



Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"A willow tree among the streams": Gary Snyder in Honolulu, March 2012

My new jacket2 commentary is up, on Gary Snyder in Honolulu, with special attention to Albert Saijo.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Gretchen Schultz Ladd (2/2/1917 - 3/19/2012)


My aunt Gretchen died yesterday.  Like my father, she was utterly kind, honest, and not unstubborn.

She died in Shelby Township, Michigan, a northern suburb of Detroit, just south of Romeo, where she and my father grew up on a small farm.  As I was keeping my own vigil yesterday in Hawai`i, I came upon an envelope from her, dated 12 May 2010.  In it, I found the transcript from a German bible from 1890, which announced the birth of Gretchen's mother, my grandmother.  It was written by her father, Hermann Ebeling.  (I never met her, or my grandfather, also named Hermann, as they died before I was born).  Here is the transcript in German, and in English; as Gretchen writes in her note (also below) with typical dry wit, "A young man in my church figured it out for me. It took me all this time to find out what it said."





[click to enlarge the photos]




















The line that will last for me: "gedenke an dies wenn ich nicht mehr bin."

Remember this when I am no longer here.

We will remember you, Gretchen.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

"Is there anyone out there?": Jamaica Osorio & Norman Fischer voice the conflicts

My fourth jacket2 commentary is now up.  You can find it here.

The post is about how two ostensibly different poets, Jamaica Osorio and Norman Fischer, use voices in their poems.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Trauma, tenderness and the archive: jacket2 commentary

My third commentary for jacket2 is now up.  Please find it here.

It is about emotion and the archive, about a Hawaiian writer's talk this past week, about the poetry of a Khmer Rouge survivor published by Tinfish Press in 2007, and about Adam Aitken's Cambodia poems.

Monday, March 5, 2012

"What if all I can see is a mountain?" / Poetic meditations on place in Hawai`i

My second Jacket2 commentary is now up, here.

It presents a "conversation" between four UHM graduate student poets and W.S. Merwin on writing in and about Hawai`i.

Other commentaries can and will be found here.