April 28, 2005

let's pretend the fog has lifted


-- by Eduardo Paolozzi, 1924 -- 2005.

* 3am interview of Gerard Malanga. excerpt:

3AM: You do see yourself primarily as a poet.

GM: I started writing poetry when I was sixteen and was published, at eighteen or nineteen. In 1967 my first book was actually a collaboration for a screen test that I had done. That was my first big book. And I had two tiny books that came out that year also. But when I went to work with Andy Warhol my identity was already established. I had already appeared in a number of very prestigious magazines. Poetry for me was a way of entering into a secret language. That's what I felt at the age of sixteen and seventeen. It was a thought that struck me like lightning. I've never stopped writing. Strangely, there have always been spells when I didn't write, moments that were a regenerative process, I wasn't writing because it enabled me to see more clearly. I was also taking photographs at the time so these were activities that meshed to a certain degree. I've always thought of poetry as an introverted process whereas photography has always been an extroverted process. But they both involve the eye to a certain extent -- both the inner eye and the outer eye. I enjoy the process when I'm involved in it.

3AM: So who do you link yourself with as a poet?

GM: One of my favourite poets is Paul Blackburn, an American poet who died in 1971 of cancer. He was a New York poet -- he was into jazz, into oral poetry, he had a poetry reading series at a café called Café de Metro. He would tape the readings using this big analogue tape recorder. He amassed an enormous collection of analogue tapes. They're now deposited in an archive at La Hoya University in San Diego. I was very young at the time and he was too sophisticated for me. So I didn't appreciate everything he was doing at the time. And then in 1979 I picked up a book of his and read it -- this was eight years after he had died and I was wowed. My own intelligence had reached a level of where he was at in his work so I could appreciate what he was doing. For years I would always travel with his selected poems on me. His son, Carlos Blackburn, who is in his late twenties, asked me how come I never travelled with the collected poems and I said the selected was a lighter volume. The collected is a heavy book!

Another poet is Charles Simac. I went to a reading of his the other week in New York. He was very brilliant, very funny. And the poet who introduced him is a very good friend of mine called Nicholas Christopher who is a poet and a novelist. His work is good too. He's about nine years younger than me. I've been rereading a lot of Ashbury. There are poets I read who I continually come back to. I have varied taste. Each of the poets I mentioned are different from each other. They're like night and day but I appreciate them from their own vantage point. It's like switching the TV channel. I did meet Auden. Since 9/11 the TV screen has been snow. I mean, I went blank. I've only written two poems since 9/11. I just went blank. I'm getting back into it now.

* Richard Cohen. excerpt:

"But taking the nation to war for false reasons is not a minor blip. It is an unpardonable feat of hubris for which, on a daily basis, Americans die in Iraq. American voters, though, have been oddly forgiving (see the last election), and the Bush administration has neither apologized nor fired anyone for getting things so very, very wrong. The conclusion is inescapable: This was not a war for the wrong reason; this was a war for any reason.

"So, in a way, I feel a bit solicitous toward the embattled Bolton. He must wonder why, of all the fibbers and exaggerators and outright liars in the Bush administration, he alone is being asked to account for what he said and what he did. It is a fair enough question and leads me to amend a recent column in which I called Bolton a nut. He is, instead, Cheney's acorn. He did not fall far from the tree."

* There is a new short story by Haruki Murakami in this week's New Yorker. excerpt:

"How drunk would you have to be to fall asleep on the rails of a streetcar line? I wondered. Was the amount a person drank the real issue? Or did it have more to do with why he was getting drunk in the first place?

"'What you’re saying is that he got drunk sometimes but usually not falling-down drunk?' I asked.

"'That’s the way I see it,' she replied.

"'May I ask your age, if you don’t mind?'

"'You want to know how old I am?'

"'You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.'

"The woman rubbed the bridge of her nose with her index finger. It was a lovely, perfectly straight nose. My guess was that she had recently had plastic surgery. I used to go out with a woman who had the same habit. She’d had a nose job, and whenever she was thinking about something she rubbed the bridge of her nose with her index finger. As if she were making sure that her brand-new nose was still there. Looking at this woman in front of me now brought on a mild case of déjà vu. Which, in turn, conjured up vague memories of oral sex."

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