Monday, June 23, 2008

The new Prick of the Spindle is up. Read my poem Company. Find the mistakes, win a prize.

Friday night I saw Polvo, for the first and probably last time ever. They did something odd. Though this was their reunion tour, instead of giving the people what they wanted, the restructured and reformatted the songs. New bridges and codas took the assumed places of old one. I don't think anyone in attendance would conclude that it made the songs better. However I understand the impulse.

Recently I have deconstructed my poems. I no longer find it alluring to be writing in blocks of prose. I have broken previously pieces into line breaks, and I feel much better about it. I know a poet who writes poems without line breaks, then makes the choices after the poem feels finished. This is a process I think is working for me.

Here is a version of a poem called The Saw, which previously published here.

The Saw

A saw is a piece of machinery
that eats wood for people.
Occasionally a human hand runs into the saw
and the saw spits back blood.
No one likes that.
It causes a big to do.
They shut down the whole production
for an hour to clean the blood
from the blade and take the owner
of the hand who is screaming
Now everyone is mad at the saw.
They starve him for the rest of the day.
Everyone liked the saw
when it ate the wood.
Everyone was proud of it then.
These days the wood comes less and less.
Things are slowing down. Days go by
without the saw eating a thing.
The saw believes itself to be dying.
When you make a saw think like that,
it will take what it can get to survive.

In recent weeks I have been humbled & floored by some readings I've attended and some work I've read. It has forced me to reconfigure my objectives. I have decided to sit on my work for a while instead of sending it out. Shelf time is the only way to be sure it is truly done. Meanwhile I will keep writing.

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the opening ceremonies of the Juniper Summer Writing Institute out in Northampton, MA. I am not attending this institute, but was a guest of one of the faculty members. It had rained earlier and slowly became beautiful outside. I got a free steak dinner and felt like an imposter. I met some kind, earnest people.

I'd come for the reading that night - Matthew Zapruder and Lydia Davis. I have been reading The Pajamist, Mattew Zapruder's last book, but was underwhelmed. I was not prepared for what he delivered last night. They were some of the best poems I've heard. They were funny, smart, laden with memorable imagery, and emotional. What resonated most, though, was the voice. The voice of the poems was first person. It was a direct, often simple, language that was really trying to get at something. It was a voice I'd been looking for, one I'm trying to inhabit in my new poems, and one that only three or four writers I can think of truly know how to use. Have you ever written a smart line, only to find out what you've trying to get at has already been so perfectly described by another? Thats what last night was like. Expect great new heights from Matthew Zapruder.

I didn't even get a chance to calm down, as Lydia Davis directly followed him. I love Lydia Davis. Hearing her read was better than reading her books. Thats not usually the case. Her new pieces are taken from her dreams, which sounds dull and overused, if they weren't birthed from her incredible mind. She was sly and funny. She had a detached demeanor which only improved the reading. She read a fifteen minute opus about the cows that live in a pasture across the road from her house. When her new book comes, it will be something.


Shane Jones said...

good post.

Unknown said...

Nice poem, Brian.

Bradley Sands said...

If I had known you were there, I would have said, "We were in that issue of Lamination Colony together." And you might have said, "Yes, that is true." Then we would have gone back to our steaks.