Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year ...

...if your calendar works that way. It's a beautiful day here in the Smokies, clear, cloudless and warm; the thermometer on the porch says it's seventy, and that feels right. More of this would be just fine.

Ron Silliman has a nice post up on some passings during the last year, and closes it by discussing Robert Creeley, who passed away last March:
I'm going to give the last word here this year to Robert Creeley. He was, to my mind, easily the finest poet of my parents'’ generation & truly the dean of American poets at least from the death of Williams until his own in March. He was also one of the most generous of human beings, and that rarest thing, somebody who wanted truly to learn from younger poets, whether they were my age or just starting out in their early twenties. Bob was active as a poet for over half a century, and that we got to have him, his work, his presence & his example for so very long was a great gift. The following is a text that Creeley wrote for a class given by Larry Fagin in 1987 or '’88 at a junior highschool. Tho he was a guest in the situation, Bob took it upon himself to complete the same assignment given to students:

I know I have been alive for over sixty years.

I know some people love me and some don'’t.

I know I am like all other people because I have the same physical
life - as hens are like hens, dogs like dogs.

I know I don'’t know a lot that other people may well know more
about but I'’ve got to trust them to help me - as I need it, and vice versa.

I know what I am, a human, is more than what I can simply think or feel.

I know I love dogs, water, my family, friends, walking the streets when things feel easy.

I know this is the one life I'’ll get - and it's enough.

Creeley was indeed a remarkable poet, and I'll soon be posting here a piece on his work that I did for the new Asheville Poetry Review.

This issue of the Review is a fine one, and holds within its covers lots of vital new work - and a little vital old work as well. There's Thomas Rain Crowe's last interview with Philip Lamantia, the "shaman of the Surreal", as Crowe says, and then Andre Breton's "Manifesto of Surrealism", which first appeared in 1924. There's also new work by a slew of poets of various persuasions (fifty-seven by a quick count), including Jonathan Greene, Sebastian Matthews, and Joseph Bathanti, just to name a few whose work I've already enjoyed; Greene's memoir of his friendship with Cid Corman, who passed away in 2004, and some poems by Corman himself - who left, by some accounts, 80,000 unpublished poems at his death; and Rob Neufeld's celebration of Jonathan Williams' major selection Jubilant Thicket. Joe Napora also takes a good look at Thomas Crowe's and Nan Watkins' wonderful translation of Yvan and Claire Goll's 10,000 Dawns, a book that richly deserves celebration as well.

Speaking of Thicket, word last month was that it's been a substantial success, and soon heads into a second printing, a real rarity for a book of poems in these times. Congratulations to Jonathan.

You can find the Review at Malaprops, or order it the old way via mail. It's certainly worth tracking down.

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