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Posts Tagged ‘The Art of Poetry’

Originals and Remnants

June 10, 2014 | by

The poet Susan Howe is seventy-seven today. A few years ago, she and the musician David Grubbs collaborated on “Frolic Architecture,” a series of multidisciplinary performances that sprang from a book of her collage poems by the same name. Harvard has posted a video of the performance, which is quietly, insistently disruptive. As it progresses, prerecorded shards of Howe’s voice seem to fall into her live voice, and Grubbs fills the space with incidental sounds: insect chirps, gravel and snow and leaves variously underfoot. The performance seems at once to take on weight and ascend into the ether.

Howe remarked on the collage, and the process of recording it, in her 2012 Art of Poetry interview:

HOWE

I am an Americanist. There’s something that we do, a Romantic, utopian ideal of poetry as revelation at the same instant it’s a fall into fracture and trespass. Frolic Architecture cuts itself to bits. It could be that because I am a woman, bullets are more like blanks. What fuels the poems in that collection is the sense of epic breaking into shards.

INTERVIEWER

I’ve heard the recording of your performance of Frolic, and you actually speak—sound out—its fragments and phonemes, those shards. You treat your work as a score.

HOWE

Collaborating with the musician-composer David Grubbs has brought vividly home to me how acoustic a seemingly collaged and visual work can be. Several years ago our first collaboration was for a performance at the Fondation Cartier in Paris, and was based around an early poem of mine called “Thorow.” We collaborated again to produce Souls of the Labadie Tract. The work I have done with David has influenced the course of my later poetry by showing me a range of contemporary music with which I was unfamiliar. It also restored my earlier interest in Charles Ives. I love the way Ives’s musical use of quotation throws connectives to the winds. His work is Romantic and iconoclastic at once.

And in the journal Lana Turner, Ben Lerner wrote with typical acuity about the performance:

I assumed Grubbs had digitally manipulated Howe’s voice in order to mimic the fragmentation of the collages. And Grubbs did often and artfully alter her voice, but it turns out that many of the sounds I thought were digital slivers weren’t. It simply did not occur to me that Howe would be capable of reading such diverse phonemes and even smaller linguistic particles in real time with such precision. But she is: I have never heard a person pronounce “nt” or “rl,” for instance, so exactly. Howe can render even the most distressed text acoustic … Howe’s recorded voice—sometimes digitally cut up, sometimes left alone—alternated or overlapped with the live performance, and Grubbs had made sure that there was little or no perceptible sonic difference between what was digital and what was happening before us; when I shut my eyes, I couldn’t tell. This blurring of the boundary between the live and the recorded was a deft way to indicate how Howe’s poems are at once originals and remnants.

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The Paris Review, 1959

May 23, 2014 | by

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Today’s the last day to claim your copy of our twenty-first issue, published in the spring of 1959.

To celebrate American Masters’s Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself—a documentary about our late, great founder George Plimpton—The Paris Review is giving all new subscribers this remarkable issue, which includes an interview with T. S. Eliot, the very first in our Art of Poetry series; fiction from Plimpton pals Alexander Trocchi and Terry Southern; poems by Ted Hughes, Robert Bly, and Louis Simpson; and a special portfolio of “Artists on Long Island” including Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, and Larry Rivers.

Subscribe now and we’ll send you a copy of your own.

U.S. residents can watch Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself in its entirety online, courtesy of PBS.

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Robert Creeley’s “The Dishonest Mailmen”

May 21, 2014 | by

Creeley

Robert Creeley by Elsa Dorfman, 1972. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

I first came across “The Dishonest Mailmen” my sophomore year of college, when, having become so enamored of Robert Creeley’s oft-anthologized poem “I Know a Man,” I decided to buy a new edition of his collected poems—an indulgence, for someone without an income who was supposed to be reading Milton. (For the record, I carry around a lot of guilt about shrugging off Milton.)

I read “The Dishonest Mailmen” and identified with it immediately for reasons I didn’t understand, and indeed for reasons that specifically elude understanding. In its fifty-some words, it conjured equal measures of anger, tenderness, and apathy, an intoxicating combination … “for a student,” I almost wrote, but what I mean is for anyone. Still, there’s something in that couplet—“I see the flames, etc. / But do not care, etc.”—that remains to me the most profound evocation of a heart-heavy nihilism that seems to afflict people exclusively in their late teens. Mainly, let’s be honest, it afflicts white guys studying literature in their late teens, who don’t know what to do with themselves or how to talk to people or how to live unselfishly, and who are able to voice this not-knowing with increasing, brooding eloquence, and who are thus infuriating to themselves and others. Read More »

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Reminder: Subscribe Now, Get a Vintage Issue from 1959

May 20, 2014 | by

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To celebrate American Masters’s Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself—a documentary about our late, great founder George Plimpton—The Paris Review is giving all new subscribers a copy of our twenty-first issue, published in the spring of 1959. This remarkable issue includes an interview with T. S. Eliot, the very first in our Art of Poetry series; fiction from Plimpton pals Alexander Trocchi and Terry Southern; poems by Ted Hughes, Robert Bly, and Louis Simpson; and a special portfolio of “Artists on Long Island” including Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, and Larry Rivers.

Subscribe now and we’ll send you a copy of your own—but hurry, because this offer only lasts through Friday.

U.S. residents can watch Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself in its entirety online, courtesy of PBS.

 

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Own a Piece of Paris Review History

May 16, 2014 | by

21 2Tonight at nine, American Masters’s Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself premieres on PBS. The documentary “does the man justice,” Variety says. The Newsday nails it: “Famed journalist had fun, and so will you.”

For the next week, to celebrate the documentary and our late, great founder, The Paris Review is giving all new subscribers a copy of our twenty-first issue, published in the spring of 1959. This remarkable issue includes an interview with T. S. Eliot, the very first in our Art of Poetry series; fiction from Plimpton pals Alexander Trocchi and Terry Southern; poems by Ted Hughes, Robert Bly, and Louis Simpson; and a special portfolio of “Artists on Long Island” including Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, and Larry Rivers.

Subscribe now and we’ll send you a copy of your own—a piece of The Paris Review’s history. And tune in this evening to catch Plimpton!, which is about, as PBS puts it, “football, literature, magazines, fireworks, hockey, movies, presidents, lawn chairs, geniuses, and the true tall tale that brought them all together.”

 

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La Vie Bohème

March 26, 2014 | by

Robert Frost was born on this day in 1874.

Robert_Frost_NYWTS_5

Robert Frost, the poet and novice martial artist. Photo: Walter Albertin

FROST

Among other things, what [Ezra] Pound did was show me bohemia.

INTERVIEWER

Was there much bohemia to see at that time?

FROST

More than I had ever seen. I’d never had any. He’d take me to restaurants and things. Showed me jujitsu in a restaurant. Threw me over his head.

INTERVIEWER

Did he do that?

FROST

Wasn’t ready for him at all. I was just as strong as he was. He said, “I’ll show you, I’ll show you. Stand up.” So I stood up, gave him my hand. He grabbed my wrist, tipped over backwards and threw me over his head.

INTERVIEWER

How did you like that?

FROST

Oh, it was all right.

 

—Robert Frost, the Art of Poetry No. 2, 1960

 

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