POET AS RADIO is a weekly program on KUSF In Exile, airing Sundays from 11:30am to 12:30pm at www.savekusf.org. Jack Spicer said that the poet is not a creator, but a conduit, getting messages from an undefinable source to form the poem. He thought of a poet as a radio, broadcasting words. We like to think of POET AS RADIO as an opportunity for writers to broadcast their words as well.
November 2, 2014 Stephen Vincent Live!
Today Stephen Vincent joined us in the studio to talk about his book After Language / Letters to Jack Spicer (Blaze VOX Books, 2011). The book includes letters to Spicer interspersed with poems, which were created when Stephen took Spicer's language and reversed the words. Stephen encountered Spicer's book Language, while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nigeria in the 60s just prior to their civil war. He found Spicer's language 'solid' and he kept this book with him while going through this tumultuous time. He addresses Spicer in the book about also encountering him in Ireland, Scotland and San Francisco. Place plays a prominent role in this work. Stephen critiques Spicer but also speaks to him from a place of love and sadness that Spicer was not able to endure his own life and continue sharing his words with the world.
After the break we talked about Stephen's 'poetry without words,' Haptic art. He finds himself 'pushing my pen around' while listening to poetry or experiencing a place. He is interested in 'how you get inside space.' This art takes the form of singular pieces or accordion folded books (one of which appears in the After Language / Letters to Jack Spicer). As he is in a place, inhabiting it, listening to it, an 'inner solo ' takes over. While we may be channeling outside material when we create art, we also 'bring out own ingredients.' This is 'all about partnering with the world.'
Review: The Visit by Susan Lewis
Paperback, 104 pages
In Susan Lewis’ latest collection of poetry, This Visit, she informs the reader of the paradox of being alive in the poem, “Severence:” “the world too beautiful/despite these flaked years.” She repeats this throughout the book, reiterating her passion for existence through metaphors and sleight-of-hand magical language. Lewis creates a landscape of language that shifts meaning and then doubles back to remind the reader of what her main intent is in this collection. I believe that a poet writes from a sense of urgency; that is, a poet looks for the source of life and the meaning of life by writing poetry, and Lewis is accomplishing that in this book. She writes these poems as means to explain and explore the complexities and the fragility of human existence. She explains the inevitable in the poem, “My Life in Microbes:”
But (you say)
some of my best friends are—
to which I nod:
It is a simple response to read and enjoy This Visit as a book that is filled with word play, puns, and intellectual maneuvers. However, there is much more to this collection of poetry than one finds in the first reading. Lewis gives the reader a sense of urgency in her poems, even as they come across as being delightfully clever. There is a seriousness written between the lines of these poems, and Lewis is very serious in her intentions in This Visit.
Lewis’ title, This Visit, suggests that someone is going to or has gone “to see” another place on this earth or in someone’s psyche. It can be agreed that we are merely “visiting” the earth and that our visits are temporary and may be occasional. As humans, we try to hang onto life as we know it and as we see and experience it with as much surety as possible. But regardless of our urge and desire to stay, it is only temporary. We try to convince ourselves that we will continue to live forever, and we posture and present ourselves in that way. Lewis tells us this in the poem, “My Life in Sheets:” “strapped & / balanced/ in their come-hither / wrappers, misconstrued & /moribund, mould’ring in / chat chat chat…” As humans, we are firmly entrenched in the idea of always being here, on this earth, but as humans, we also have memory, and we realize that is not how existence continues. It discontinues and is tenuous and fleeting, and it is not at all secure and eternal.
The Color Symphonies
BlazeVOX Books (2014)
Reviewed by F.T. Donereau for Rebecca’s Reads (9/14)
5 stars Universes Colors Running Through Deep Layered Poems
When I first realized Wade Stevenson's book of poetry, “The Color Symphonies” would use the world's colors as a motif running throughout the collection, I wondered how, without straining too hard and breaking the thing, it might be possible to accomplish this feat, manage to find ways to keep it interesting and bring forth ideas in poem after poem, while adhering to such a self imposed restriction. The collection, after all, runs two hundred and eighty-four pages. Imagination and heart are wonderful advantages though. When the creative mind is engaged, and a deep flow, a wide-open vision, is at hand, bright lights can be left on the page, landing from any number of angles.
The triumph of these poems is, indeed, the imagination and heart of Mr. Stevenson. There must be a well-tended core to any poet, if he or she is going to be able to grab hold of a reader's mind and soul and make them feel. Here we have works of art rendered with brushstrokes similar to a great painter. Colors explode forth in almost every piece, splashing the eye and engaging the senses. Luckily, they are not one note wonders, all feeling and no substance. The author builds descriptive layers that, at least seemingly, lay down tangible place settings. The esoteric rides over these works. But also, there exists the concrete. It is a feat not often accomplished, but still yourself a moment and read these lines: “Orange is dying and it roars.” “Just don't stand there like a pig/routing your snout in a slimy/ under-water hardly good enough for the fishes.” “A sudden surge of black,/tornado vortices, a web/of powerful deep lines...” Tremendous. Full. Visceral. A poetry of shimmering worlds, alive at the side of your vision. Yet solid too, the sense of earth and human endeavor coursing in them. The poet that cuts both ways, making you stand up and see.
There is something of the novel to Stevenson's “The Color Symphonies.” You feel at the end, as if you have been told a story. Beauty. Color. The human soul. It is laid alive here. You understand a little more about your everyday walk upon the earth after coming to the end of this cycle of poems. I think you will be intensely aware of your surroundings, the depth of life on earth, after taking in Mr. Steven's Symphonies. Because we're a fallible animal, the gist of such won't last. The great blessing though, is that these poems don't fade upon the touch. You can return to them, as I have, read them over again, ingest them anew. Each time brings a new color to the pallet. More resides between the web of lines on each page than a first reading allows you to know. It is a pleasure when a poem can give you more than one answer, one sensation. Here, Wade Stevenson manages to do it again and again. Open your heart, your eyes, and your ears. Dive in and enjoy.
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Check out The Color Symphonies by Wade Stevenson here
Book Review: Kristina Marie Darling's Requited
by Georgia Kreiger
In her characteristic style, Kristina Marie Darling blurs the already tenuous lines we draw between literary genres in her book Requited. Composed of a series of thirteen prose poems appended by an epilogue consisting of fragmented images, the book is defined by Darling as a work of fiction and includes the conventional disclaimer regarding coincidental resemblance to actual people and events. A concluding note reveals that lines are borrowed from two primary texts. These authorial remarks prompt us to search for a narrative progression in a book that is simultaneously poetry, prose, and fiction, and that, like an academic essay, includes synthesized material from primary sources.
The effectiveness of Kristina Marie Darling’s book Requited lies in its ability to remind readers that it is human nature to crave to be what we are not. To crave what we don’t have. Darling treats poetry as a truth-telling mechanism. This is a book that is aware of itself, its truths, and how it wants to tell them. The self-referential nature of this text urges the truth to make itself known. It enables the use of poetry as a truth-telling device, and reminds the reader of fundamental truths.
The book is the chronicle of a couple’s relationship, and their eventual parting. We begin the story in a garden, which might be a nod toward to the Garden of Eden, and what it symbolizes for us: a clean slate; new beginnings; fresh starts. Gardens and forests are so richly associated in Western literature with emotional truths, and the unfettered psyche. This trope was a clever one to utilize for the story of a romantic relationship because this draw that humans have toward the new, the fresh, the undiscovered, is what makes new relationships so intoxicating, but it is also what makes the end of relationships so difficult, because in breaking up with someone we acknowledge that a part of our innocence has been irrevocably lost.