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* taking another Paz at it *

* mas Paz *

I recently received my contributor’s copy of the anthology desde Hong Kong and have been enjoying dipping into the collection of great tributes. One in particular stood out in my reading. I share it below to further celebrate this anthology’s publication.

In “Going Home,” British-Canadian poet Phoebe Tsang delves deep into an image (a la Paz) and has the subject matter, and the reader, come out different on the other side.

Going Home – Phoebe Tsang

At dawn, the carts glistened with wet scales
as if the fish were still alive,
not drowning for lack of water.
They slept just like the rest of us,
breathed city air.
As the sun rose, the glitter faded from their gills.
By noon, the last dregs were fins and bones
kicked to the gutter,
entrails slick under fishermen’s boots.
The fishermen gone home,
back to the sea.

***

Happy homing!

Jose

p.s. Information on ordering a copy of the anthology can be found here.

I revisited this week’s poem – Hart Crane’s “Chaplinesque” – this summer reading through Mary Ruefle’s “Madness, Rack, & Honey.” In the book, she points to the sentimentality of the poem, how it makes the campy humor of Chaplin and the image of a kitten and raises them to their proper place, which is simply a place of consideration. That each of us here simply to be seen and heard.

On the technical side, Crane’s always up to something metrically. Here, I like how he sneaks in a six beat line into every stanza except for the first and last, the mix of rhythms evoking Chaplin’s signature walk a bit.

(Spooky and coincidentally: Ruefle and Chaplin share the same birthday).

Later in the same essay, she states that if someone says your poem is sentimental, it probably means it isn’t sentimental enough. Committing to that impulse and seeing sentimentality through to what’s at stake is the challenge. And the only way to see and hear one’s self.

* liked the poem til I pointed out the thing about the meter *

* liked the poem til I pointed out the thing about the meter *

Chaplinesque – Hart Crane

We make our meek adjustments,
contented with such random consolations
as the wind deposits
in slithered and too ample pockets.

For we can still love the world, who find
a famished kitten on the step, and know
recesses for it from the fury of the street,
or warm torn elbow coverts.

We will sidestep, and to the final smirk
dally the doom of that inevitable thumb
that slowly chafes its puckered index toward us,
facing the dull squint with what innocence
and what surprise!

And yet these fine collapses are not lies
more than the pirouettes of any pliant cane;
our obsequies are, in a way, no enterprise.
We can evade you, and all else but the heart:
what blame to us if the heart live on.

The game enforces smirks; but we have seen
the moon in lonely alleys make
a grail of laughter of an empty ash can,
and through all sound of gaiety and quest
have heard a kitten in the wilderness.

***

Happy sentimenting!

Jose

Just a quick post to share the publication of some new work.

I have three poems up in the latest issue of the Apple Valley Review. Check them out here along with other fine work in this issue. Editor Leah Browning was kind enough to ask for a bit of background on each poem, so make sure to scroll down and see what connections led to the poems.

I’m also happy to announce the release of the latest issue of the 2River View, which includes two poems of mine as well as audio here. Check out the rest of the fine issue here. Special thanks to editor Richard Long for the hard work in putting together such a fine issue.

See you Friday!

Jose

So, earlier this week, THIS happened:

* bling bling *

* bling bling *

I’m delighted to share the news of my having become married. :)

Those of you who’ve followed me on the Influence for a while may have caught me speaking about a previous divorce. I’m happy to have been keeping up this blog long enough to show that life has turns and revolutions, and that life moves on.

In keeping with this spirit of movement and (new) connections, enjoy the lyrical alignment below, in which William James connects more than a few dots for us. James’ knack for being at turns psychologist, philosopher, and mystic (usually all in one paragraph) always impresses me.

***

The Charm – William James

a lyrical alignment from The Will to Believe

Who does not feel the charm of thinking
that the moon and the apple are,
as far as their relation to
the earth goes, identical;
of knowing respiration and
combustion to be one; of
understanding that the balloon
rises by the same law whereby
the stone sinks; of feeling that
the warmth in one’s palm when one
rubs one’s sleeve is identical
with the motion which the friction
checks; of recognizing the difference
between beast and fish to be
only a higher degree of that
between human father and son;
of believing our strength when we
climb the mountain or fell the tree
to be no other than the strength
of the sun’s rays which made the corn grow
out of which we got our morning meal?

***

Happy charming!

Jose

During my grad studies in NYC, I had the opportunity to go to a reading by Tomas Tranströmer. Sharon Olds and Robert Bly were chosen to present Tranströmer’s work, each reading a selection. Olds delivered his work in a fervent and direct manner, while Bly strode through the poems, pausing at times to exclaim over a line and asking us to listen, really listen.

The words I’ve chosen for each reader – fervent, direct and stride, listen – are key to my understanding of Tranströmer and his poems. There is definitely a passion behind the poems, an unabashed facing of what’s in the world. But his poems are also full of close, deep listening.

In the poem below, Tranströmer evokes the flight of a bird throughout his life, develops the transient flight of a bird to such a point that the bird becomes the constant and the self is seen as the one in transient flight. For me, poetry is much like this.

* right here there is no time *

* right here there is no time *

The Nightingale in Badelunda – Tomas Tranströmer *

 

In the green midnight at the nightingale’s northern limit. Heavy leaves hang in trance, the deaf cars race towards the neon-line. The nightingale’s voice rises without wavering to the side, it’s as penetrating as a cock-crow, but beautiful and free of vanity. I was in prison and it visited me. I was sick and it visited me. I didn’t notice it then, but I do now. Time streams down from the sun and the moon and into all the tick-tock-thankful clocks. But right here there is no time. Only the nightingale’s voice, the raw resonant notes that whet the night sky’s gleaming scythe.

***

Happy gleaming!

Jose

* trans. Robin Fulton, from Selected Poems, ed. Robert Hass

* can't Paz this up *

* can’t Paz this up *

Just a quick post to announce the release of the anthology desde Hong Kong: Poets in conversation with Octavio Paz (Chameleon Press), which includes my octave sequence “Octaves for Octavio Paz.”

I was excited by the submission call early this Spring and came up with some rather different takes on the octave. Using a line by Paz as a guide, each octave (nine total) explores a seven syllable syllabic line, playing with the magnetic tension of words and phrasing. Here’s one sample from the sequence:

sobre la hoja de papel/el poema se hace/como el día/sobre la palma del espacio[1]

could we write: morning, window,
light: and write: afternoon stretched,
and so on: write past things missed
by the eye, missed by being
alive, write: the tree outside:
the feeling of lines moving
past you, write: the paper wind
moves: O, we’d miss the missing.

[1] “El Fuego de Cada Día”

Gestures like the play on “O” as address and declaration as well as the unique take on Paz’s words played out in each octave is my way of tipping my hat to the great poet’s Surrealist leanings.

The editors have made available both their Introduction and Afterword which give a more in depth description on the project. More information on the book can be found here.

Thank you to editors Tammy Ho, German Munoz, & Juan Jose Morales.

***

I also want to take this opportunity to announce that my pieces “Relinquished” & “Look” have placed 2nd in Blue Earth Review’s Flash Fiction Contest and will be published in an upcoming issue (BER#13).

Thank you to the editors & staff of BER! I’m greatly honored.

***

See you Friday!

Jose

Sometimes the best advice about the poetry life comes when trying to find out about yourself in non-poetry ways.

This rather blank statement springs from a recent reading of Susan Cain’s book Quiet: the power of introverts which takes on the idea of introverts (and extroverts) both as personal, social, and cultural phenomenon.

One of the finer points I walked away with was that for extroverts going out (a frightening concept in my world) is a way to recharge. Having that simply put really put some of the people in my world in perspective. If going out to a party is someone else’s cup of tea, that’s awesome. I’ll just be at home with my, uhm, cup of tea.

Another fine point came when Cain quoted Warren Buffett on his approach to business. I’ll let the man speak for himself about what he terms his “inner scorecard”, but damn if the parallels aren’t there for the poet – how one must focus, and focus a long time and in their own way, to get the work that matters done.

* yeah, but what's it mean? *

* yeah, but what’s it mean? *


Inner Scorecard – Warren Buffett

a lyrical alignment from Susan Cain’s book “Quiet: the power of introverts”

I feel like
I’m on my back
and there’s the Sistine Chapel,

and I’m
painting away.
I like it when people say,

Gee, that’s
a pretty good-looking
painting.
But it’s my painting,

and when
somebody says,
Why don’t you use more red

 

instead of
blue?
Goodbye.
It’s my painting. And I

don’t care
what they sell it
for. The painting itself

will never
be finished. That’s one
of the great things about it.

***

Happy abouting!

Jose

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