Friday, November 21, 2008


New Poems at Drumlummon

& here (equal, but different - to quote Martha & the Muffins)

For Issa Series #1

Yellow Big-Leaf Maple
leaves, flat hands
wave neither Hello or
Goodbye as I pass

For Issa Series, #2

The lake quicksilver
black in the shadow of mountains
The surface trembles
as if some great creature will explode
from the depths
but clouds drift like silver fish
too high above us to care

for those interested in learning more about Kobayahi Issa check out the amazingly courageous book The Year of My Life.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sky the Hue of Robin's Eggs

Well it's been awhile, but that's bloggin.
I've taken on a daunting but rather thrilling reading project lately, namely to read all the books in Modern Library's 100 best novels, the board's list, not the reader's list, which has apparently been infiltrated by thousands of Scientology quacks. So, I'm of course starting off with a novel I've moved around the globe with for the last 30 years and never read, Ulysses by James Joyce. Actually Joyce has two of the top three, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man reigning third. I'm only a scat of the way into Ulysses but finding it brilliant uphill trudging, Mr Bloom wandering the streets of Dublin, his mind buzzing about with three word sentences. And of course I'll have to detour and re-read The Odyssey. More anon.

Have also recently read two superb books: But Beautiful by Geoff Dyer and The Moon and Sixpence by Somerset Maugham. But Beautiful is simply the finest book on jazz I've ever read. This collection of non-static portraits: Lester Young, Bud Powell, Mingus, Monk, Ben Webster, Art Pepper, and Chet Baker, with Duke and his driver Harry Carney weaving their way through these mean and crazy night-stroked streets: takes off with a quote from Adorno about the often momentous flaws of artists (don't have the book with me so I'm paraphrasing). Dyer writes out of love, deep empathy and passion with his saxophone of words changing keys and phrasing to jam with his subjects. Brutal, haunting; presence/absence.

The Moon and Sixpence is a fictionalized account of the life of Paul Gauguin, certainly an artist who had little regard for the commodities of modern life. This is a great novel -- witty, observant and very tough. it is also an interesting form, a novel fictionalizing itself as a biography, complete with faux footnotes. Maugham, toward the end, even rues that this were a novel, and discusses changes he would adapt to structure and character to make the book more appealing. Genius takes no prisoners and makes no compromises.