Saturday, November 05, 2005

finished reading this connection of everyone with lungs and i find myself zealously recommending this book to everyone. i remember the same periods spahr's writing through in this book, just after 9.11 and the run-up to the war and "shock and awe" when a lot of poets i know, myself included, stopped writing and had to reassess poetry's place in the light of current events. while most of us regained some measure of return to poetry, this reassessment, at least for me, continues. mostly it continues because i spend more hours of the day reading news than poetry, and have often wondered what a poem that tried to acknowledge this experience would look like. and as i opened my computer to write this, the bbc news page intervened with the violence in paris suburbs going into a tenth night, the economic summit in argentina ending after riots and no new pacts, a somali cruise ship being fired upon by pirates, a bid to seal off the us-mexico border, george clooney denying a bar scuffle and a search for a death row escapee.

some marginalia before i put this book into the wild: the text as whole is an interest in formation, a lot like jesse's work (which incidentally i once compared to the movement of a flock of birds, but as we'd see them here, a bunch of pigeons churning above a city square, a shared direction, but ever shifting parts). and then, since spahr works within the postmod/postlang/whateveryouwanttocallit vein that works out of deconstructivist conceits, and she's dealing with a destructive subject, it's fascinating that the most dominant formal quality of the book-length work is genesis. this seems like literature's fulfillment of the opportunity lost by the us's response to 9.11, which instead of igniting more vengeance, could have ushered in a new era by countering with a different kind of response, one that acknowledges the brutality we're all capable of without having to actually demonstrate it, one that uses such desperation as a fulcrum for dialogue among nations, debt-forgiveness, and a global economic policy that is more progressive than keeping most of the world impoverished. even now it's hard to write about without sounding pollyanna.

so this book has been duly noted, and i gave my library workshop today to a minute group, but it allowed for more one-on-one conversation. half way through a woman walked in and i invited her to join in the writing prompt and she said no i'll just sit here and listen. so we wrote and talked while she looked on and in the last 20 minutes she began to speak, asking what was positive and what was negative because she didn't know anymore since jewel (chicagoland's grocery chain) had changed so much over the years and now they just weren't themselves anymore, how is she ever supposed to go to hawaii with them again? attempting to parse some sense from this i asked her if she worked at jewel. no, she said, i donate my own time to choose things for their shelves. then she asked if we thought making sense was very important. i responded with a teacherly sense is relative, and in poetry it can be interesting to challenge what we think of as sense. and she said no, i'm talking about forcing people to do what you want. me: yes, then you would want to communicate to them clearly.


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