"It is eternal audience..."

Among the reasons I keep returning to Cedar Sigo's poems is that he uses silence in such a magnificent way. By 'silence' perhaps I mean reticence, the desire to keep the poem as secret and unearthly as possible. And yet his language remains grounded, affiliated with that sense of place and self Eugenio Montejo calls terredad (or, earthness). As Miguel Gomes describes it in his introduction to Montejo's The Trees: Selected Poems 1967-2004 (Salt Publishing, 2004):

"The new term springs not from some avant-garde attempt to astonish the reader; it is, rather, the only way of expressing the poet's belief in a primordial and always necessary union between culture and anything material existing independently of human beings. Terredad evokes a deeply socialized understanding of space, which is irreducible to merely physical, biological or geographical terms. It reminds us that people cannot conceive of anything around them without immediately marking it with subjective expectations; that space, as Henri Lefebvre would put it, can be and has been produced because it is both an embodiment and a medium of social life." (xix-xx)

Cedar's terredad is rooted in poems and fellow poets, in the movie or TV screen, in the turntable, and of course in the library. As well as the street, the bedroom and the correlation between self and city. In the second edition of Selected Writings (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2005) the reader is invited to view certain private symbols and memories, all of which the poet never fully explains. And yet, the reader is included within the geography of the poems by way of graceful language. He concludes the book with that private sphere being invaded by economic necessity:

"STOP. It's just so private
A reference, requires enough
Of its audience. Slow the
Spinning wheels in Atlantis,
I have to lose my focus
I have to leave for work now."

That privacy he invokes exists as far away from "work" or "publication" or "career" as possible. It is a Mallarmean privacy, intended for friends and family, for the few who might want to listen. Of course, he inherits this dedication to silence partly from John Wieners, whose poems inhabit whatever Boston I might want to actually keep. When Wieners concludes the opening poem of his chapbook Pressed Wafer (1967) with the following stanza, he is perhaps hailing that immense and productive silence:

"It is eternal audience
and my feet hardened, my heart
blackend, nodding and
bowing before it."

I find this same dedication in the poems of Dolores Dorantes, whether in their original Spanish or in Jen Hofer's wonderful translations. I don't mean to connect any of these poets within a single impulse, since I'm merely watching my own affinities unfold here. But what they do share, in my reading of their work, is a refusal to abandon the poem to noise. They remind me why the poem must stay quiet. Dorantes carries her words into a blank space, an aura the reader should also wear, or risk missing:

"Redonda suerte
cierto pueblo
de pensamientos

Round fortune
a certain pueblo
of thoughts

* [Jen Hofer, ed, Sin puertas visibles, University of Pittsburg Press, 2003.]

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