at long last

I've been very ill for the last couple of days and am just now collecting my head.

What a previous week. Joe and Andrew arrived in the dead of night a couple of Mondays ago. Wow, that long. They pulled into the driveway twice and departed. Andrew who knows this place was perplexed by the archery target, "When did you take up archery?" I got a bang out of that. We sipped beers. I did my usual what I have to do, then had a couple of days off leading up to the reading. Joe was under the weather, but still his charming self. Aaron Tieger picked up
Chris Rizzo in Albany on Friday then continued on to the Wendell confluence. I met Michael Carr at the Amherst bus station. We all convened at the new domicile and an evening of poetry, wine, cider, etc. ensued.

Chris Rizzo read from a current manuscript. Chris' work evolves so quickly that to say he is an intersection between new and newer is almost to imply a stasis that is never present in his work. Chris is kinetic. There is a distrust and an impulse towards prolifity. With Chris' it is just a product of a restless, focused mind. His current work seems to be obsessed (meant in best way, as obsession equals attention/effort) with meaning what he says and saying what he means. & as always with his ear meticulously atuned. He must have perfect pitch.

Aaron read some of his recent work, post Anxiety Chant. Aaron's interest in British poet Ric Caddel often comes to mind. It isn't because his work is derivative, decidely it is quite the opposite, but rather because it is so singular, so unique. The comparison follows in that Caddel was going to be a musicologist, not a poet, until he hooked into the Brit Po world. That's a quick gloss. Aaron seems of like mind, he is a musician, but language is his instrument, like Caddel. It is measured pitch and cadence. Masterful ti----ming. With his work nuance is generosity. Ronald Johnson said that if you read, books will find you. I think it is fortunate that Aaron has found Caddel as a means to refine and expand his ear even further. That is not to say, again, that Aaron is post-Caddel but rather that he has found a company or an antecedent for his work that has allowed him to continue to magnify his work.

Michael read next. Michael's work always reminds me of the possibility of approaching a poem as a material object. An object that can be constructed. I'm often informed by the idea that a poem has to be a religious experience, that it has to come from the martians. Michael's work convinces me that the divine is possible through construction, that a direct message can be found in/from the materials you work from/in. His recent work expresses his fascination with cinema, a fascination that he uses to stylistic effect. When I say stylistic effect I'm not implying a superficial or surface quality, but rather a mood or mode that is expressed with such effect that the rest of the poem, the materials in the poem, have an even greater verve. I look forward to reading a larger collection of this work.

Joe read from Areas of Fog. I've had the good fortune of being allowed into the lab. I've seen Areas develop from (relative) start to finish. It is an extraordinary manuscript. There is a greater elasticity to these poems. One reader has suggested that Joe's poems are so tight that they might eventually end up giving him a hernia. I've written a longer piece on Joe's work that I will eventually make public, so I'll refrain from too much repetition here, but his eye and ear continue to be preoccupied with the intersection of the natural and built world. Kerouac said of Robert Frank, that his photographs suck a sad poem right out of America, or something to that extent. Joe's poems do the very same. Not a sentimental sadness in the strictest sense, but on a much greater scale. The sadness if not just personal loss, but cultural, even epic. It punches you in the gut. These are delicate poems that could cut diamond.

I read a chunk of Sun Seen From Afar.

OK, more soon.


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