zaterdag 30 maart 2013

Richard Brautigan & the Postman

Richard Brautigan: US novelist & poet both obscure and sought after (have been outbid on Ebay several times for a copy of Trout Fishing in America). Today I purchased a recent reprint of three books in one volume and I like what I have read so far. I am also happy to be able to add to my stock of literature dealing with the postal trade (I have done a quiz about it here).    
The Postman
The smell
            of vegetables
                              on a cold day
performs faithfully an act of reality
like a knight in search of the holy grail
or a postman on a rural route looking
for a farm that isn't there.
   Carrots, peppers and berries.
   Nerval, Baudelaire and Rimbaud. 
and also:
To England
There are no postage stamps that send letters
back to England three centuries ago,
no postage stamps that make letters
travel back until the grave hasn't been dug yet,
and John Donne stands looking out the window,
it is just beginning to rain this April morning,
and the birds are falling into the trees
like chess pieces into an unplayed game,
and John Donne sees the postman coming up the street,
the postman walks very carefully because his cane
is made of glass.

dinsdag 26 maart 2013

Strolling smacks of introspection

"It is becoming hard these days to justify the pleasures of simply 'going for a walk'. In a world of sponsored hikes and mass marathons, strolling smacks of introspection and an unhealthy lack of competitive drive. Ambling about with no badges of purposefulness (shell-suits and dogs are the favourites) you are looked on as a figure of fun or, worse, of danger. Children cross the road as you approach. Long-distance trekkers elbow you aside, a cissified obstacle not worthy of consideration. Even the physical act of walking is now being streamlined by the health industry. Going for a stroll, one of the most civilized of pleasures precisely because it can be indulged in purely for its own sake, is now expected to do something, either for you or the world." 
- Richard Mabey, A Walk Around the Block (1988)
[The picture of course shows writer and long distance walker Will Self, appropriately clad, making a walk work for him.]

Birds brooding over inscrutable intentions

A picture of birds in the park last Sunday morning, March 24. Temperature was around zero degrees Celcius and the wind was very strong and from the east. Normally the birds are lively but here you can see them all sitting silently with their head against the wind. A rare sight. Notice the heron sitting by the water. An occasional visitor.  

zondag 24 maart 2013

Lichen, eater of trees, crumbler of rock [update]

[my pentax wg-1 (the first camera I have ever owned) has a neat microscope function and these tree-based lichen is what it can do] 

Update: lichen do not actually eat trees as pointed out in the comments, I am merely creating drama by referencing to an obscure poem by Lew Welch.

zaterdag 2 maart 2013

Beatscene magazine[s]

Beatscene press is run from Coventry by the Ring's. They publish not one, not two but three long running series of beat generation publications. There is the pocket book series, limited edition booklets with unique material (interviews, memoires) relating to the more recognizable Beat names, for instance Iain Sinclair's reminiscences on his encounters with William Burroughs with a so-far unpublished cut-up by WSB. There is Transit, a little magazine that mainly brings original poetry but my issue is devoted to a long essay on Gary Snyder. But their flagship publication is the Beatscene magzine, a quarterly down to it's 70th issue within a few months. It brings reviews, essays, interviews, scholarly articles, fan writing and original material. In the US especially there is still tons of books being published about anything related to the beats. There is previously unpublishable material like letters and notebooks but there is also a steady stream of biographies, academic works and memories. Some of the original beats are still alive and publishing and Beatscene goes out of their way to speak to them, others are dead and lionized and incorporated into Hollywood and Beatscene will keep up for you. Which is to say that there is still enough happening to keep a magazine filled. The definition for being called a beat is pretty democratic so Beatscene will write with as much zeal for Jack Kerouac as it will for some guy who used to work at City Lights bookstore and published limited edition chapbooks al his life and is probably a complete unknown. The sheer volume of stuff covered is fantastic and, if nothing else, it shows how collectable beat generation material is. 

vrijdag 1 maart 2013

Two editions of EhtnoPoetics' grand grimoire

My copy of "Technicians of the Sacred", the big book of ethnopoetics compiled by Jerome Rothenberg, is the revised and  expanded edition of 1985. I never liked the book: it's big as you expect, but overweight, the font slightly too large, the pages too white and too white-spaced. Not nice to read and the cover is not very appealing either (down right ugly more like!). Now I have purchased a cheap paperback edition in original edition (Anchor 1969). The cover is much better, the pages of better size but it is almost as big physically despite lacking an entire section. There are 522 pages in the first edition against 636 pages in the second. To my pleasant surprise the revised edition offers major changes which means that I am not just owning two editions of the same book but that I own 2 books that overlap for maybe... only ...80% or even 70%?? It means that a hypothetical aggregate editions of this book would be 1000 pages! And still no material from the Amazon would be included! Comparison shows another problem with this book: the selection for inclusion of material appears even more random than it already did. There is no other book that I like so much and yet find fault with in such large degree. I won't go over it again but the change in material between these two books I find impossible to explain in quality. It could be that the new edition draws in more exotica but only marginally. It's a poetry book and it's a manifesto of a poetic movement and in that light you can possible step over many problems but the apparent random selection of texts points to problem of literary merit: there is so much stuff compiled here from all ages and all places and Technician of the Sacred throws them all together without much digestion or understanding of the original purpose of the material or even the beauty of the language or the originality of the images. 

Complaining about ethnopoetics is one of the great joys of ethnopoetics.