Sunday, June 29, 2008


Notes toward a poetry reading in Mongolia

About the man whose minutes of greatness is sitting alone with no light on, watching it all get dark.

Please write me a letter, reads Simon in his soft voice. Tell me of the high August winds.

I am called up to read an English version:
Shifting patterns
Are they not chasing
The blue water-patterns
Of the earth
The mottling of the wind
Becomes the spirit's manuscript

Donald hall wrote a poem in which Whitman and Dickinson are married. But I've given you too many sentences to translate.

the present is there to be stepped into, hollow slit stairwell, 3am cold night street, trees tossing. After a night at the ambassador's house--they thought they knew where Ryan lived--it's behind BBQ chicken! Under lamplights a man with whose dark face and intonation as he turned to us, away from his friend behind buildings--it seemed absurd to Patrick, the next great writer of satire. A room for the reading with traditional deels and Mongolian hats and palm pilots going off. There is no how, there is only do. Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world. The natural diplomats and emissaries. In the spirit of creation. Ambassadors of the word.

As a young nation we are able to invent ourselves, which carries with it the risk of being able to discard or jettison our own history. The act of writing is an affirmative act. The spirit of imagination is something that affirms our existence on this planet. You could compare prose to walking and poetry to dancing. You walk for a purpose, to get from one place to another, so there's this real useful, utilitarian aspect to it. Dancing, however, is gratuitous, it has no particular utilitarian function, and that is its sublime value, that it is something beyond blandly functional.

How does one read aloud a poem that goes, "I met my friend N____ M____?"

1 comment:

samraat said...