Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added)
is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.
--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture

Friday, June 09, 2006

The palace against pontification

Up ahead, down below--

1. Yes, I know that I was just pontificating.
So I offer this dear old chestnut in excuse.

2. A pontification against pontification.
(But but but!)

3. Small bite of a book;
or, what I am reading.

4. In which all
really is grass.

**********************

1. "Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes."
--That, of course, was Leaves of Grass and Walt Whitman, who was just speaking under my feet--there, in that sensuous blade of grass, the crooked one with the dew drop hanging from the tip.

***********************
2. On reading political rants by writers--

Be it hereby known that no poet, no playwright, no maker of stories, and no writer of novels has wherewithal and authority whereof to speak of matters political.

If you have any more authority than, say, a hill of stunted beans or a patch of crab grass, that authority flows from the poem, the play, the story, the novel, etc. When you speak of political matters in your blog or on your personal soapbox, you have no more authority than the Nepalese sherpa in that splendid bright hat, the friendly watch seller on a street corner in China, or the pock-marked teen who scrubs out the grease pan at your local McDonald's.

Go right ahead and yammer, but remember that.

Nobody cares what the teen who scrubs out the grease pan thinks about George Bush, Iraq, Somalia, and a thousand other issues. And nobody cares what you think, either. This is the cold hard steel of truth, my companion in the art.

So get back to the place where you have authority! The grass-growing place...

And remember, once you get there, that you must live in all skins of all shapes and colors and even beliefs. Otherwise, you'll never be a shapeshifter and storyteller worth a blessed bean.

***********************
3.
"In a hundred years, will the mountains
exhaust themselves? Will the lake move on?
Will my hand, severed from mind, lie fallow
forever?"

--from today's reading, a book of poems
about mortality and the death of a mother:
Elizabeth Spires, Now the Green Blade Rises (Norton, 2002)

****************************
4. The photograph "Grassbook," "a book of poetry coverd in Indoor/Outdoor turf with the words 'you're invited'" is a www.sxc.hu royalty free photograph by Steven Parry of Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. I thought that Walt Himself would like it...

6 comments:

  1. Apologies--blogger has been down in the dumps. So down that it seemed it would never rise again, and certainly would never do its technology-approaching-magic stunts again.

    The pots are clean, the cache scoured, the cookies scrubbed...

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  2. I, funnily enough, enjoy hearing what people think about politics. Am I addicted to heightened blood pressure? Could be. I don't give more weight to the opinions of celebrities or teenage bloggers than to the those of the rest of us, but I view these people as characters in the novel of my life --and I like my characters fully drawn. I TRY not to discuss politics in company, but I don't always succeed--as Jeff B. knows only too well ;D. (Hi Jeffery, if you're here!) Still, Marly, I understand your point of view and see its wisdom.

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  3. Yes, I'm like Henry--"heavy bored"--but with writer-blogger rants. If they were varied and surprising, it would be one thing. But most poet-bloggers and novelist-bloggers seem to rant about the same things and have the very same political viewpoints. Oddly, they seem to feel that they're bring breaking news to the masses when they write them.

    Maybe it's because so many writers are attached to universities, another place where people often have "brand" opinions, handed out with a Phud. Very dull. Let somebody else rant!

    I don't mind a good eccentric rant at all. I just hate hearing the same old one I've heard a hundred times.

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  4. I guess there's a lot, unfortunately, to rant about these days. But I promise not to!! Not here! Just noticed the astro-turf-covered book---how funny and fun.

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  5. Grassy books, outdoor bookshelves, and scrubbed cookies?? Summer has surely arrived.

    I like your little sketch next to your comments, Ms. Youmans. At first I took it to be a delicate, gardenia clad fairy under a spray of pine needles tinged with night... But it is Adanta and a raven, an image just as mystical.

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  6. Laura,

    I am sure any rant from you will be entertaining. Fire away!

    Yes, from a quirky Canadian...


    Megan,

    Alas, we still have more school and exams and Regents exams. But enjoy yours.

    The little sketch was one of the many proposals for the Raven Mocker pb cover--all by Renato Alarcao.

    ReplyDelete

Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.