February 15, 2007

the doughnut man sounds crazy too

Pierre Bismuth, Coming Soon, 2005

The Foreign Press ep Cramped Leisure can be pre-oredered at West Main Development. The (arbitrary) release date is February 27, 2007.

* Carl Bernstein compares the Nixon administration with the Bush administration. excerpt:

"Veteran reporter Carl Bernstein says the lack of truth and candor from the Bush administration is unprecedented in his experience.

"Comparing the Nixon administration's press relations to those of Bush, Bernstein says, 'Nixon's relationship to the press was consistent with his relationship to many institutions and people. He saw himself as a victim. We now understand the psyche of Richard Nixon, that his was a self-destructive act and presidency.'

"'The Bush administration,' Bernstein continues, 'is a far different matter in which disinformation, misinformation and unwillingness to tell the truth -- a willingness to lie both in the Oval Office, in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, in the office of the vice president, the vice president himself -- is something that I have never witnessed before on this scale.'

"Bernstein contrasted Nixon's covering up of illegal activities tied to his re-election campaign with the Bush White House's 'unwillingness to be truthful, both contextually and in terms of basic facts that ought to be of great concern to people of all ideologies.'

"'This president has a record of dishonesty and obfuscation that is Nixonian in character in its willingness to manipulate the press, to manipulate the truth,' he adds. 'We have gone to war on the basis of misinformation, disinformation and knowing lies from top to bottom.'"

* From a Paris Review interview of William Meredith:

Interviewer: You've said that you average about six poems per year. Why so few?

Meredith: Why so many? Ask any reviewer. I remember one particularly wicked review of Edna St. Vincent Millay whose new poems weren't as good as they should have been. "This Millay seems to have gone out of her way to write another book of poems." You're always afraid of that. That could be said, I believe, of certain people's poems. So I wait until the poems seem to be addressed not to "Occupant" but to "William Meredith." And it doesn't happen a lot. I think if I had a great deal more time it would happen more often because I would get immediately to the typewriter. But it might happen eight times a year instead of six- not much more than that. I'll say this because it may be interesting or important: I think it is because poetry and experience should have an exact ratio. Astonishing experience doesn't happen very often. Daily experience is astonishing on a level at which you can write a poem, but astonishing experience would be the experience which is not astonishment of reality but astonishment of insight. It is for me, as a lyric poet, to make poems only out of insights I encounter. Robert Frost used to say, "How many things have to happen to you before something occurs to you?"
Interviewer: Do you think writing a poem is a specific engagement of a mystery?

Meredith: I would say exactly that. It is the engagement of a mystery which has forced itself to the point where you feel honor-bound to see this mystery with the brilliance of vision. Not to solve it, but to see it.
Interviewer: In poems like "Politics" and "Nixon's the One" and "On Jenkins' Hill" and "A Mild-Spoken Citizen Finally Writes to the White House" you develop an unusual civic stance for a contemporary poet, a kind of "poet as concerned citizen" approach to the political scene. Does that characterization seem accurate to you? And does this attitude signify a new kind of openness or political engagement in your work?

Meredith: I believe it represents an openness that I've always felt and acted on but never found much way, before this, to talk about in poetry. The lyric poem is often so private. For example, my intention in writing "The Wreck of the Thresher" was to write a public poem about my feeling of disappointment in the hopes of the United Nations. When I was writing that poem I remember seeing it change from a rather pretentious public statement to the very private statement it turned out to be. It occurred to me that this is simply a demonstration of what Auden said in the "Dyer's Hand," that we don't trust a public voice in poetry today. I would say that my concern about politics is precisely the concern of a Joan Didion or a Denise Levertov but that my stance is very different, so it doesn't appear to be the same. There is a spectrum of political opinion and a spectrum of political involvement. I stand with regard to involvement where those two women stand, but in the political spectrum I'm much more Jeffersonian-I'm nearer the middle.
Interviewer: Theodore Roethke once said, "In spite of all the muck and welter, the dark, the dreck of these poems, I count myself among the happy poets." Do you want to be one of the happy poets?

Meredith: I would like "The Cheer" to seem like someone who would say, "Yes. Without any reservations, I say yes." I speak about other things with reservations: things that I would want to change, things that I wish hadn't happened, things that we need to do and that we're not doing. But there are people who involuntarily give off an aura of "No," and those seem to be the people I quarrel with. It is inevitable to quarrel with that which you consider damaging in life.

* Neil Young's Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, with Crazy Horse, from the Fillmore East 1970.


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