Monday, September 28, 2009

Robin Blaser: Moving from one room ...

Richard Owens has a nice appreciation of Robin Blaser up at Damn the Caesars. I missed it when it first appeared in May, but it's still worth a visit these months later.

Owens lives in Buffalo, so he actually made it to the celebration of Robert Creeley's work held there in October, 2006, on a weekend that turned out to be a meteorological disaster. Literally: the mayor declared a city-wide state of emergency and banned all but essential driving. Buffalo usually handles snow storms as a matter of routine. A few feet of snow? Oh, we'll delay the start of school an hour. Not this time. Ice-covered limbs took transmission lines down, and left hundreds of thousands of homes without power.

Blaser was one of the major speakers for the conference, and seems to have come through the melee with his usual flair:
When Blaser stepped up to the podium in front of the altar at Trinity [the church which was the principle venue for the conference] he began to read but couldn't be heard. People in the audience (everyone seated in pews) began shouting, encouraging him to get closer to the microphone. And it snowed out. Each time he stepped closer to the mic people told him to get even closer. And no matter how much closer he got we still couldn't hear him. This went on for what felt like an absurd length of time until finally Blaser climbed up on the mic and mimed a hummer, as if he planned to take the mic into his mouth whole. He asked, "Is that loud enough for you?" And at precisely that moment a sonorous shock of thunder rattled the stained-glass windows of the church. No joke. No hyperbole. Thunder crashed. A priceless moment.
Do check it out for a fuller account, and a feeling take on Blaser and his work. It'll also clarify this post's title.

The last Wordplay of Season IV hit the air a few days after Blaser's death, and featured readings and an interview he'd given during the course of his career. The show's now up on the ibiblio archive. He's a critical figure in the poetry of the last century, and, luckily for us, he was often recorded, so I'm sure I'll be featuring him again on future shows.

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