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Friday, July 16, 2021

Poems, bridges, signs

Bouquet for 34 years, July 16


Some poems that the late poet, editor, and professor Kim Bridgford accepted for Mezzo Cammin are up--now re-accepted by editor Anna Evans. Thanks to her and the journal!

Here are titles and first lines to entice you to fly HERE...

The Maiden-Saint of France

While still a child I was a thing men fear,
The fire-struck one who has the ears to hear

The Watering Place

We wished the stream to be alive, as rinsed
And quick as a twisting blue rill of thought.

Far Away Long Ago

The world’s as rust as blood, as white
As sperm, as black as ebony—


The crown springs from his skull to say
That all his rule is flowering

"Far Away Long Ago" and "Stellate" are from "Seven Triolets for the King of Finisterre," a series written for painter Graham Ward, a friend in the U.K.  Here is his "King of Finisterre":

Graham Ward, "King of Finisterre"


Dimitry Shvidkovsky, Director of the Moscow Architectural Institute:
Our main goal now is to connect the time in which we live, to the years when the last churches [before the revolution.—Trans.] were built. The construction of such a bridge between the two epochs is very important: The times before the 1917 revolution seem to me to be a period of one of the highest manifestations of Russian Church architecture, which by no means was in decline, but on the contrary, it was on the rise and flourishing.*

A bridge between two epochs... 

Although this quote is from an interview about Orthodox church architecture, it's something I've thought about a lot. We have the return of figurative and narrative art in recent years, in great part banished by Modernism and Postmodernism and its aftershocks. We have, indeed, the return of painting itself. Private classical studios have done the work that art schools used to do, passing on the knowledge of painting in oils. Likewise, poetry has thrown a bridge back to the past while moving onto the future. Narrative has reappeared in poetry. Book-length poems have returned. A subset of writers embraced form, and that fascination has helped to push us away from the long, long dominance of the short lyric poem. 

*from an article by Dinara Gracheva, "Church Architecture Doesn’t have to have the Same Objectives as Secular Architecture; An Interview with the Director of the Moscow Architectural Institute, Dimitry Shvidkovsky," in Orthodox Arts Journal


Here's a couple of recent tweets of my own... measures of the times in the realm of making stories and poems. What is happening in the world of books is curious but unsurprising.
13 July: Novels aren't meant to be bowdlerized by agents and publishers and "sensitivity readers" who act like bossy committee members! May your friend stand strong and maintain the book as he dreamed it to be. As he made it to be. I send him good wishes, whoever he is...

9 July: I recently used Moby Dick as an example of why writers shouldn't use "beta readers." Just think what they would have done to that book! It is great and weirdly holy in both energies and essence.
If you're a maker, don't let others warp what you make to fit into the Procrustean box of the era. You can't help being of your era--that marks your work regardless. But you can make the thing you want to make by your own lights. There's a cost to that, but it is a cost worth paying. 

After rulers and the ruling passions of an age die in time, the arts remain. Homer remains. The wee fat Venus of Willendorf remains! The works of the Gawain poet remains. Making is good for the spirit, so why not aspire to make something that remains, or to experience the things that remain? 

Dostoyevsky to his brother after the firing squad, after the last-moment reprieve: "to be a man among people and remain a man forever, not to be downhearted nor to fall in whatever misfortunes may befall me—this is life; this is the task of life. I have realized this. This idea has entered into my flesh and into my blood." 

How splendid! Read the whole thing HERE.


  1. Congratulations on your 34 years!

    I always feel so lucky when you post links to your poems, so thank you. And also, of course, I agree with both of the tweets you quoted. All the great works of art are strange somehow; it's just the poor imitations that are smooth and predictable and safe.

    1. Thanks, Scott--

      I'm glad you like the poems! Yes, strangeness, not the work with all the oddities sanded away...

      I want to say that I still enjoy your blog and hope you will continue. There are so many reasons not to post these days--a mention of my elopement anniversary (with the sheriff's deputy holding my bouquet) on facebook stands at 300 comments or likes, while this post has... one comment. Mentions of poems with links on facebook gain considerably fewer responses. But I enjoy your thoughts, and I like to think of you writing and reading and playing your fiddle!

      Thank you for the congratulations. We had a lovely time with friends in the Catskills today--the big day was Friday, but it was a work day for Michael.

    2. It seems that fewer people take the time to read blog posts, let alone write posts. Anything longer than a few hundred words gets skipped. I will tell you that I read your blog faithfully, even though I don't comment often. Time is so fleeting these days, and I find it hard of late to pull my thoughts into any kind of coherent order so as to reply to anyone's online efforts. But just knowing that there are people out in the world who still read, who still write, who still know what poetry and art are, is cheering, and valuable. So keep it up, I pray you, and I will, too.

    3. Perhaps that's the best thing about a blog--keeping up with other people who still think making beauty is a quest worth the cost. Feeling less alone in the chase...

  2. I go on my hols, am cursed by the lurgi and you decide to post (Erect? Transmit? Endow?) posts. Gracheva's long long headline seems to be stating the obvious. Does anyone imagine that the objectives were shared? The biggest difference concerns attitudes towards physical health. Secular architecture's primary aim is to keep hypothermia at bay. Church architects reckon that very high ceilings may be fatal to the congregation but death will arrive as frozen ecstasy.

    1. I do ramble into weird corners of the internet. And, I see, so do you. At least, I don't think I mentioned frozen ecstasy. Or did I? But Taverner says that silence is exactly that.

      And I am sorry that the feverish dread lurgies have found you on your hols (thanks to reading Diana Wynne Jones with my daughter, I know what "hols" are.) If it is any consolation, I have been spending several hours a day stretching because of hip and low back pain--overdid it exercising with a weight vest and am slowly going back to normal. Muscle-and-bone lurgies!

    2. p. s. Shall come and visit you e-wise in your lurgydom later today...

    3. You are a visiting angel: both of us could do with more commenters, especially those who know which end is up. Not that I'm whining.

      You say you have been spending several hours a day stretching; I refuse to believe this has been restricted to your body. The verb has another meaning as when I say a book "stretched me". I like the expression but realise it may be seen as self-regarding - that I have the potential to be stretched. It's not just poetry that's risky.

      I have responded to your two separate comments at Tone Deaf. Less than twenty seconds of reading

    4. Not angelic... but I do hope to continue being "bigger" on the inside and not the outside!

      Less than 20 seconds--do hope you're feeling better and more verbose soon...

    5. Marly: Unforeseen dialogue, one of the great potentials of reflective thought. One serves the metaphorical ball into the appropriate square and it is returned at an unexpected angle, its dynamic qualities entirely transformed. But perhaps you think that tennis - even literary tennis like this - is only for sissies. But lo, it results in a community of two, perhaps even more. We harm no one but may, just possibly, enrich each other.

    6. Speaking of verbal tennis, was just visiting your e-world: great story about the rough poet in the park!


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.