Along with the blessing of an audience and an excellent space to read my poems, one of the things I liked most about last weekend in Ithaca was the chance to speak with fellow writers about a wide variety of topics. The dedication of everyone associated with SOON Productions to making poetry a living and relevant art form is inspiring. Next month’s reading promises to be good, with Anna Moschovakis and Matvei Yankelevich.
Speaking with Josh after the reading, he mentioned how the presence of grillos (crickets) in my Caracas Notebook poems had reminded him of moments in Ezra Pound’s Pisan Cantos. Although Pound had been on my mind when I was writing and editing that manuscript, I had completely forgotten about the following sections in “Canto LXXVIII”:
“Be welcome, O cricket my grillo, but you must not / sing after taps.”
“Qui suona Wolfgang grillo”
In Caracas Notebook I’m attempting to write about the incessant and beautiful noise of frogs and crickets that sound everywhere in Caracas once the sun goes down. Even when driving in a car, one can hear their songs following through the windows, from tree to tree. But this coincidence with Pound has been an added surprise.
I ended up reading a few translations from texts by Antonia Palacios and Martha Kornblith I’ve been working on for my anthology. I also read my English version of a prose poem by Roque Dalton, “Primavera en Jevani,” from his collection Taberna y otros lugares (1969). As I’ve been writing about Dalton recently (in relation to Roberto Bolaño) I often forget just how funny he can be in his writing. The chuckles his poem elicited from the audience reminded me of his ability to write about the deadliest of matters in a casual and ironic manner. Now I must begin to write the first draft of the essay on Dalton and Bolaño’s final, posthumous novels.
There is also an astonishing Jean-Michel Basquiat painting called “Grillo” (1984), which was included in his show at the Brooklyn Museum a few months ago. It was one of the pieces I spent a long time studying on the day we visited the museum.