"This is the beard I'm always growing..."
It's the first line or the first sentence that describes us, invokes our weariness or the floating disguise. Another mix tape, also from the early 1990s, I found a few months ago among my papers in the attic in Florida included: Mad Kap, Miles Davis, Young Disciples, Jungle Brothers, Stevie Wonder, Slint, Sonic Youth, Don Cherry.
The Miles Davis is from the uneven Doo-Bop (Warner, 1992). I don't know what the track is called but Davis proves he surely understood hip-hop. Hell, he invented it. And the Stevie Wonder is from Innervisions, which I associate with Cambridge in the 1970s and Tampa in the early 1990s, repetitions that work from John Lennon's declaration: "Psychedelic reality is reality, for me."
"To have heart
in the face of confusion.
unto the matter present.
A cheap pair of support pantyhose.
A transnational relay.
A democratic assembly.
unto the Blap Blap.
unto the Blip Blip."
(Rodrigo Toscano, "Writing," To Leveling Swerve, Krupskaya, 2004)
This poem from Toscano's recent collection reminds me of this physical act on the keyboards, in the notebook pages, on the machine print-outs, through the machine for air, for errors. Miles Davis and Toscano meet somewhere in the gesture of looking back while moving forwards, Benjamin's Angel of History. My own glance that hooks itself to the era the years 1989-1995 represent, some specific self-mythology that might only make sense in the notebook, or among a handful of friends who tell me: "Yeah, I saw that too."
The way Phiphe opens up Midnight Marauders with:
"Linden Boulevard represent, represent
A Tribe Called Quest represent, represent
When the mic is in my hand, I’m never hesitant..."
The sparse chords Devendra Banhart uses to open his Rejoicing in the Hands, and the crooked sweet voice he hymns. Received two great things in the mail last week:
Eileen Tabios, I Take Thee, English, for My Beloved (Marsh Hawk Press, 2005).
6x6 #9 ("becomes impossibly, stupidly hard") (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2004).
Eileen's taking on an epic endeavor, emphasizing that poetics and verse can be written simultaneously. How many of us do love English, even though we mistrust its history. And why humor and vision remain so crucial. I also love the font on the spine of this edition as it rests by my bed or on the living room shelf.
The paper used in this issue of 6x6 reminds me of one aspect of what I meant when I wrote "newspaper poetry" in "Caurimare." The paper in #9 feels like a newspaper pages. Delicate leaves folded in felt. There's some of the dailiness of newspapers, too, in each issue of 6x6, a mapping of one's surroundings, one's era.
Thanks to both sources for these pages.
A blog (among a handful) I read daily is Jacinta Escudos's excellent Jacintario. She recently wrote about her relation to El Salvador, rejecting any false notions of belonging to a single nation (see the "Preguntas incómodas" post):
"Aquí me odiarán los nacionalistas y a los que les encantan las definiciones y las palabrotas como patria, identidad, nacionalismo, blá blá blá: pero no puede ser "patria" un lugar en el que se ha sufrido tanto. Y esto no lo digo en plan mártir. Sino en plan objetivo. Es la exacta, cruda realidad. No pertenezco a ningún lugar, a ninguna gente. Ahora, además de huérfana, soy sin-patria."
Those of us whose only nations exist in friends, family, books or sound. In canvas, paper, sleep, stones. To build a reality that will sustain us beyond the weight of machinery, transnational capital, paycheck-to-paycheck, homelessness, the undeniable presence of war, fear and anger. Write beyond evil's gravity.