Wednesday, January 24, 2007

poetic intelligence

Graham Fousttho we could not determine when we actually met, graham foust is an old friend from buffalo when i would drive there from london ontario for poetry events (1997-99). and when i moved to DC he put me in touch with a lot of the folks here whom he knew from his time in the GMU MFA program. he was in town for a double bill this past weekend, reading in the i.e. series in baltimore on saturday (with chris nealon and simon pettit) and then at in your ear on sunday (with lynne dreyer and richard deming).

favorite lines from graham's readings this weekend:
There's not much left on the trip from beak to asshole

You are only not thinking out loud now

I'm a room I shrink to reach

I know me to where I'm not home

You are only here to leave me alone
this last one i've already nominated for favorite line of the century knowing full well that bestowing such an honor now will not, in spite of appearances, be at all premature. his new book, Necessary Deafness, is available from flood editions.

i seemed to be tuned in to poetic intelligence this weekend. and i don't mean spying on people, i mean the quality of intelligence that is at work in their poems, the quality of refusing to remain content with the way things are in this world. foust's is bleak and full of despair at the absurdity of our situation, often withdrawing to a place where we can lick our wounds in silence. but in spite of this there is just as often a recognition -- and i'm reminded of werner herzog's films which are much in my mind's eye these days -- that there is often a profound glimmer of beauty and wonder in such situations as well.

nealon's intelligence is incredibly keen and particular, sarcastic in a cutting but rarely bitter way, feisty and even campy at times; if there's any nostalgia here it's for a kind of may 1968 insurgence (as a reference in one of his poems to "soixante-huitards" suggests) but even that is not free from further scutiny. pettit mounts a campaign of seemingly boundless charm and almost whimsy. deming's fierce intelligence takes him back to a kind of romantic high modernism so as to reexplore and reinterrogate the tropes of that watershed moment in our history. dreyer remains rooted to the syntax of person and the place.

1 comment:

Ryan W. said...

that was an unusually good poetry weekend. I too was particularly tuned in to all of the above.