Recent letter-poem by U. from which I might post excerpts. He writes of a poetics that works from Tampa or Boston, in a room, the writer as only plot. Walk through more snow today after work, under sagging pine tree branches, unplowed sidewalks to the library. Walk later to the T after dark. A compression acquired with the snow, silencing street slows down the form.
Reading Thomas Sayers Ellis, The Maverick Room (Graywolf Press, 2005):
"The page tightened like a drum
Resisting the clockwise twisting
Of a handheld chrome key,
The noisy banging and tuning of growth."
I saw Ellis and several other members of the Dark Room Collective read at a high school in Providence a few years ago. Ellis told the students: "You might think you're Rimbaud but believe me, you're not Rimbaud." I'm fascinated by his mapping of Washington D.C. in these poems.
Reading the first 100 pages of Bolaño's 2666 I've noticed the four scholars investigating the reclusive German novelist are becoming caricatures. Or their research and fixation on Archimboldi seem pathetic, maybe pathological. But this is also the weight of the rest of the novel imposing an early momentum that ffwds the characters. I'm tired of their intrigues and misreadings already. The pages I've read so far have been organized into short episodes, which gives the book an epic quality, implying the cohesion of these thousands of relatively brief episodes.
Hope to read Michael Hofmann's translations of German poet Durs Grünbein, Ashes for Breakfast (FSG, 2005). His introduction to the volume includes some excellent comments on translation I'd like to write about later. A few of Hofmann's English versions can be found here, with the rest of this poem:
"A prison reglement. It was all a long time ago, and lo, I’m still here.
Where states melted away like sand castles, and illusion was at a premium,
It was second nature to me to turn the music up, and softly hum
The two or three lines that were sufficient to put the country
Under water. As I embarked on my sentimental journey
Through nettle fields and villages, the other way to the exodus,
The sergeant’s Russian bawl: ‘Dawai, dawai!’ was still ringing in my ear.
Nostalgia’s falsetto recommended something exotic before you hand in
Your dinner pail. What say the Hawaiian beaches?"
("Vita Brevis" &tc.)