Johanna Drucker Reviews A Quiet Passion - Johanna Drucker is not a fan of the Terence Davies’s new Emily Dickinson biopic. In this her Los Angeles Review of Books review, she compares A Quiet Passi...
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
(Sonnet. Words yanked from "returning the books to their shelves" by Bernadette Mayer)
city Feeling far from the city finally in Desolation.
time Time to walk and stretch and swim and think until
19 19 o'clock in the evening
stream when I hope we will eat a big fish you caught in the tide stream.
taxi It's running so fast gulls taxi by
it on blocks of driftwood; wing back; do it
mulch again. Scent of kelp sea urchin and dessicated crab mulching
then on the shore. The dog sniffs, then pounces cracking
window shells with her teeth, each delicious crab leg a window on
nothing another kind of wildness. Nothing can take this from her.
books Like I here with my sketchpad and books,
cold feet slippered against the cold, disregarding
phone the insistent phone, opening turning
shelves emptying the shelves of ordinary life.
I finish reading the 25th anniversary edition of Bernadette Mayer's wonderful Sonnets (Tender Buttons Press, 2014) while we are anchored in Desolation Sound. Despite their distance from where I am, Mayer's urban words and images suffuse my dreams, and I tap away at her lines, trying to understand how they fit together. One of Mayer's projects in particular, undertaken with Philip Good, strikes me: a list of fourteen words finds its way into a sonnet, one word per line (66). I decide I will try to co-compose with Meyer, by pulling words from another of her pieces that I love very much, a love sonnet entitled "returning the books to their shelves" (67).But as soon as I've decided on this method and pulled the words from Mayer's poem, I think, I can't make a poem from these words! I'm north of 50 degrees north latitude--what have I to do with cities, time, taxis, windows, phones or shelves? But as soon as I let the poem begin with that dilemma, the rest follows: being where I am lets me empty these words of their ordinary contexts and make other associations. Evidently, the neighbourhood is everything, no matter where you are.
Image: reflections north of 50.
Monday, June 1, 2015
|so much still to do...|
I hold my breath before all of the things done to be done to be undone
before all of the things I've thought about forgotten or otherwise neglected
I hold my breath before doing or undoing what must be done or undone
before easy to finish tasks and difficult to finish tasks
before tasks that should be easy to finish but that are difficult to finish
before tasks that should be difficult to finish but that are easy to finish
I hold my breath in thinking of the dust under the bed
which I may or may not be sweeping up
I hold my breath before deciding
among the tasks that must be done or undone
what I am to bring with me and what I am to leave
what I must remember and what I may forget
(not leaving out how I may forget what I must remember)
I hold my breath before doing or undoing before undoing what I should be doing
and doing what I should be undoing
I hold my breath before hauling down or up the duffel bags
before opening them or closing them
and choosing and unchoosing what I am putting in them or taking out of them
before folding and unfolding clothing
before choosing and unchoosing sweaters
before counting and uncounting socks
before stacking and unstacking books boots and flashlights
before remembering and then forgetting the batteries
I hold my breath before taking or leaving what I am taking and leaving
before leaving what I ought to be taking and taking what I ought to be leaving
before zipping or unzipping the duffel bags and filling or unfilling them
I hold my breath before thinking of arriving
before leaving and thinking of leaving
before doing and undoing what must be done as I wish and do not wish to depart
I hold my breath before thinking of leaving
before arriving and thinking of arriving
before doing and undoing what must be done as I wish and wish again to arrive.