|A flowering head--what every writer desires.|
Art by Clive Hicks-Jenkins,
division page for Maze of Blood.
And what did you do?
Yesterday I was reading the late (the newly late) Michel Tournier (for a commissioned article), interspersed with poems by Robert Walser and Rubén Darío. I ended up writing a poem about Walser and another about a fountain in Chile dedicated to Rubén Darío. The rest of the day I spent trying not to scratch my eyelids and seeing that child no. 3 was packed for college.
So skip it, it's just marketing--
really good marketing--
Marly Youmans continues to put out superb novels. Early in 2015 I read her excellent Glimmerglass, a book about life and inspiration. Very late in 2015 I read her latest, Maze of Blood, which is naturally getting good reviews and you should buy two copies, give away one and read the other. -novelist Scott G. F. Bailey at the wonderful Six Words for a Hat
You asked series.
I'll continue the topic requests later, I expect. Right now I am feeling rebellious and itchy. Also sad about the arts death-sluice that is this January. Another unexpected loss today. April is no longer the cruelest month. In the meantime, here's a little poem by Luisa--oh, never mind. As usual I have put a book down somewhere and can't find it! How about a little Robert Walser instead?
Never mind about continuing later.
Because I feel a You Asked coming on. Midori Snyder asked for writing about poetry, and here is some. I feel pretty sure it's going to be highly wayward, though.
TADA! You asked, no. 4.
|They should have used|
Malevich's White on White.
Well, maybe we're not quite here yet. We'll get to the poem eventually. It's our goal. We're going on a walk. With goal.
Walser in a white field. There's Modernism for you, Robert Walser having terrible or mildly terrible (we can't sustain the terrible forever, and really he prefers the mildly terrible) thoughts and denying himself, being a detached flâneur and going on white sanatorium walks (less a walk than a stroll, without the incidental pleasures of a stroll) into snow and then dying with his eyes wide in a white field.
He might as well be a barely visible white on white (or white on what, as auto-correct would have it) square in a Malevich painting! All hail the Suprematist Manifesto and Suprematist Malevichian Utterings: "Art no longer cares to serve the state and religion, it no longer wishes to illustrate the history of manners, it wants to have nothing further to do with the object, as such, and believes that it can exist, in and for itself, without 'things' (that is, the 'time-tested well-spring of life')" It's all mal, and life's a bitch, Malevich!
Hey. Give me the well-springs of life! All of them. Give me marvelous things.
It's all so very meta, the self-abolishing, self-obliterating artist Robert Walser with the incredibly tiny, almost-disappearing handwriting vanishing into a white field like a sheet of blank paper. (Himself a slight mark on that paper, to be carried away, erased.) And that's an image from his first book! (And also rather like, kindred to this poem, our goal.)
I must be terribly obstinate because twice in the past three days I've written poems in response to Walser's poems, and in both cases I am busy refusing, refusing, refusing him and being of pretty good cheer. Of course, I like him. I do tend to like people. And so I was quite nice to him in both poems... even tried to get him to come inside out of the cold, into the warm, buttery light.
Perhaps it's because I tromped along in my own self-obliterating field of youth, long ago, but I always have the impulse to tickle Robert Walser unmercifully, to insist on going along on his random walks, to force him into peculiar or lovely destinations. I would have annoyed him by bundling up (deliberately picking out bright colors) and chasing after him, snowball in hand. Whump! I would have brought children along, and they would have pelted him with more snow and insisted that he make snow mermaids and castles and forts for battles. We would have dragged him outoutout of his white square backdrop. We would have made him scribble letters in the snow, ten feet high. We would have dressed him in a thousand zany scarves, knit by long-haired women and containing strands of their hair.
Do You See?Yes, I see. "Stiff and dead." It snowed, and Robert Walser lay flopped in the field with his eyes flung open, staring at a white, socked-in sky. Something should have saved him from his bleak, threatening age, and from the final sanatorium where he went to be mad but didn't seem it. But nothing did save him.
You do see me crossing the meadow
stiff and dead from the mist?
I long for that home,
that home I've never had,
and without any hope
that I'll ever be able to reach it.
For such a home, never touched,
I carry that longing that will
never die, like that meadow dies
stiff and dead from the mist.
You do see me crossing it, full of dread?
I like you, Robert Walser, but I am very glad that I crept out from under the giant monochrome monoliths of Modernism and Post-modernism and Post-post and infinitely on through refracting fun-house mirrors. It's pleasant out here in all this freedom, and there are shouts and outrageous, manic rhymes and walks with funny and gorgeous and moving goals! All the same, I'm going to read your The Walk very soon.
I don't know German, so I should ask Scott Bailey if the translations by Daniele Pantano are much like the original. They look, soundwise, somewhat simplified. But perhaps that's in part an illusion, made out of my ignorance. Certainly he's not interested in duplicating his rhyme schemes, when Walser works in rhyme.
And that's the end of You Asked, no 4. More anon, no doubt.
Today I shall notnotnot scratch my eyelids, and I shall clean a bit of house, walk on the treadmill in avoidance of hideous weather, and work on The Book of the Red King. I'm getting there. It's just so huge! Five years since I wrote most of the poems in a great rush, and I'm still not done tinkering and arranging and downright fussing.