Third Factory/Notes to Poetry

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Posts Tagged ‘Arthur Rimbaud

Attention Span 2011 | Jeffrey Pethybridge

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Jaime Saenz, trans. Forrest Gander and Kent Johnson | The Night | Princeton | 2007

Somewhere there must be a list or book full of permanent poems on permanent things like the ocean or the night, and sometimes you say to yourself: man, I want to write one of those poems, but how? “And then a very odd thing happens: // at a certain moment you begin to see the other side of the night, // and you realize with a start it is already inside you. // But this, of course happens only with the great drunks.”

Walt Whitman, ed. Edward F. Grier | Notebooks and Unpublished Prose Manuscripts: Volume II Washington | NYU | 1984

Focused reading on the hospital diaries, which in the context of documentary poetics read like a serial poem and all the more powerful for how it’s notational music plays against the eloquent prose of Specimen Days. The diaries might be a perfect test case for Spicer assertion that the poet has to be tricked into writing a serial poem. Interesting also how certain impressions or images––notably the capitol dome statue––stay with him and move from the notebooks to letters, sometimes to poems and how they change in each textual appearance.

Anthony Madrid | The 580 Strophes | manuscript

Crackling thru or under all the verve, humor, élan and wit of the Madrid persona is something else, a form of (momentary) liberty, maybe, yeah that’s it, and isn’t that one of the things Wilde said about masks. “You see, Horatio, I find it easy enough to play both parts in this comedy. / Like every self-righteous rebel, I have internalized the seminal tyrant.”

Kristin Ross | The Emergence of Social Space: Rimbaud and the Paris Commune | Verso | 2008

After reading this I dreamt I started distributing a free text––partly a collage partly not––entitled “The Right to Laziness” all thru Austin.

Arthur Rimbaud, trans. John Ashbery | Illuminations | Norton | 2011
Arthur Rimbaud, trans. Donald Revell | Illuminations | Omnidawn | 2009
Arthur Rimbaud, trans. Donald Revell | A Season in Hell | Omnidawn | 2007

Every time I read Rimbaud (in translation) I feel like I’m reading his poems for the first time: it’s full of surprises and that sense of the new, but I don’t feel my reading takes hold or deepens. No other reading experience has ever been elusive in precisely this way. The Ashbery is a great addition to the composite of Rimbaud in English.

Michael Cross | Haeccities | Cuneiform | 2010

Limned by their epigraphs, more even so than their titles, the poems make a terrific music that is at once specifically sensuous and generally allusive, and the result is a powerful form of the lyric. Or rather, maybe it’s better to hear these poems as issuing from that obscurer tradition––devolved from the epic––of wandering philosophers with their strange and beautiful hexameters: “in Pisa say, for Twombly, the frame maintains its course of shape / the frame-abyss, Apollo in the woods, lake-red for sacrifice and use.”

Karen J. Greenberg and Joshua L. Dratel, eds. | The Torture Papers | Cambridge | 2005

Since the crimes detailed in these papers (and in subsequent documents) will never come before a court or a truth commission, what then? Can what we call cultural forms such as history or poetry embody an alternative, albeit lesser, form of accountability, and if so what will that reckoning look like? For me the start of the answer to this question has been to see within the torture memos the epic poem of American empire at the start of the 21st century.

Walter Benjamin, trans Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin | The Arcades Project | Harvard | 1999

Rereading this for the pleasure of wandering and it’s flashing methodology.

Hoa Nguyen | As Long As Trees Last | manuscript

Note-taking rhythms and syntax prevail, but are punctuated by a kind of cinematic image, and all of it is highly condensed and tuned to the mixture of textures (familial, economic, environmental) of daily living: “What can’t stay / late in the month: // dolphin fetus not birds / washing up in numbers.”

Robert J. Bertholf and Albert Gelpi, eds. | The Letters of Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov | Stanford | 2004

Of all the letters of poets that poets read, these should be first on the list, sorry Keats.


More Jeffrey Pethybridge here.

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Attention Span 2011 | David Trinidad

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A.R. Ammons | Garbage | Norton | 1993

I’m in the middle of this now, and liking it a lot. Book-length poem in run-on couplets. Ammons has a very friendly, welcoming mind; I trust his meanderings. I think he wants us to think his wisdom is homespun, but in fact it’s wizardly. “have some respect for other speakers of being and / for god’s sake drop all this crap about words, // singularity, and dominion: it is so boring”

Jeanne Marie Beaumont | Burning of the Three Fires | Boa | 2010

Her third book, and a leap forward. I felt, reading poem after poem, that here is a poet at the height of her powers. Awe-inspiring. Witchy, in just the right way. The magic of her own peculiar and deep being.

Elaine Equi | Click and Clone | Coffee House | 2011

Fabulous new book by one of my favorite poets. For thirty years her work has never failed to surprise and delight. No one does what she does. She makes life bearable, makes everything seem shiny and bright. Store-bought and oracular. Click and Clone. You can’t help but snap your fingers to it.

Denise Levertov | The Letters of Denise Levertov and William Carlos Williams | New Directions | 1998

Read this while traveling; couldn’t put it down. WCW to DL: “It must be in the words themselves and what you find to do with them and what you have the spirit and trust to rely on the reader to find what you have put among them. Where is it? In detail. Microscopically.” Also read and loved Levertov’s O Taste and See (1964).

Arthur Rimbaud, trans. John Ashbery | Illuminations | Norton | 2011

I’ve never been able to grasp the beauty of Illuminations (and over the years I’ve tried). But in Ashbery’s new translation the beauty comes through loud and clear. His sent me back to the Louise Varèse translation; I found her introduction extremely helpful.

Jane Roberts | The Nature of Personal Reality | Amber-Allen | 1974

We create our own reality—did ya know. “Your thoughts blossom into events . . . Your beliefs grow as surely in time and space as flowers do. When you realize this you can even feel their growing.” Jane Roberts’ Seth books changed—continue to change—my life.

Maxine Scates | Undone | New Issues | 2011

I wish more contemporary poets were as self-realized as Scates. Her poems really hit the vein. A true sense of interiority (of time spent alone, seeing and thinking and feeling and remembering), illustrating how the past and the present exist simultaneously in us. Beautiful and devastating.

Nick Twemlow | Your Mouth Is Everywhere | Racquetball | 2010

Long overdue first chapbook by a terrific poet. He manages to make me laugh and scare me at the same time. Slick, deep stuff. Happily, his first full-length collection is forthcoming.

William Carlos Williams | Paterson | New Directions | 1995

The Great Beast. I’ve always wanted to read this, and this summer I finally did. In a reading group with four others—every Thursday night for five weeks—which made it that much more of an experience. This led me to WCW’s Selected Letters and his amazing The Desert Music (1954). There are few poets I admire as much as Williams. “unless I find a place // apart from it, I am its slave”

W.B. Yeats | Mythologies | Touchstone | 1959

I actually only read the first book in this collection: The Celtic Twilight, which was published in 1893. Fairy tale-like stories of the supernatural: village ghosts, enchanted woods, faery glamour. Letters of fire that vanish before they can be read.


David Trinidad is the author of Dear Prudence: New and Selected Poems (Turtle Point Press). He is also editor of A Fast Life: The Collected Poems of Tim Dlugos (Nightboat Books). He teaches poetry at Columbia College Chicago, where he co-edits the journal Court Green and is the 2011-2013 Distinguished Faculty Scholar. This is his first contribution to Attention Span. Back to 2011 directory.