One of the books I've often returned to in the past decade is Allen Ginsberg's Indian Journals. I love its chaotic, crowded snapshots of Benares, and the hours described sitting with saddhus smoking and listening. It seems one of the few times that Ginsberg slows down his own ego and offers the reader clear glimpses of the material world around him. I get the sense that the fractured nature of his prose is enhanced by Ginsberg's New Yorkese language being surrounded by other alphabets. I also appreciate his candor when facing horror in the suffering and poverty on the streets and alleys of Benares. There are, of course, the inevitable moments of hippie Orientalism, but for the most part he stays true to the notebook and the material & spiritual landscapes around him. I always laugh at his (jealous?) dismissal of Octavio Paz spending his time in India playing tennis.

It was this book that first taught me to appreciate the wider possibilities of notebook writing, as opposed to the "static" existence of a single poem, or collection. The tension between prose and verse seems productive to me. So, this might be what draws me to all these blogs floating around in the machine. Nick Piombino's journal poems & entries, spanning the last three decades, always offer me what I feel is a privilged glimpse into that mythical and mundane object, a poet's notebook. His post today on our responsibility to the political sphere as poets is, for me, an important one. Eileen also has some crucial things to say about the sometimes counterproductive qualities of irony, or "hipness," in (post-whatever) poetry. After all, how "hip" can it be to live under a president who can barely read.

As for my own politics, I think I'm a nihilist more than anything (what is this, The Big Lebowski?). I have an apocalyptic mindset at the moment. I'm not proud of this, and I do still believe in the primacy of Spirit and Vision.

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