Wednesday, September 17, 2003

the poems of Greta Byrum 

Maggie Zurawski would bring up Greta, for as long as i've known her, and with a great love and respect. while in Iowa i finally got to meet the poet, and stay with her, in her home, and i got to see exactly why Maggie is so excited about the person. then Greta gave us some of her poems to read, some that i guess she's written while at school in Iowa, but i shouldn't assume that. but it makes sense to assume that.

the first thing i liked is how different they all were in form. each had a completely separate complete form of its own, or "their" own. i had a dream the other night where a voice kept telling me NOT to refer to poems as things but as people. when i asked which pronoun to use the voice said, "are you being a smartass now?" but i was sincere, in the dream, i think.

it was difficult picking a couple to post. i wanted to post all of them. the one "Convulsive or not at all" is a conversation in the way that i've been fascinated with conversation in poems for awhile. which leads me further and further into my theory that plays are almost as close to writing poems as writing poems. go ahead and argue this point if you want, i'm interested in hearing as many ideas about that as possible.

i believe the title "Convulsive or not at all" is from Breton's NADJA, but i'm not 100% certain of that.

one of the things i think is important to point out is that Greta uses a different font for each poem. something else i liked right away. someone at her party, or somehwere, had told her that that bothered them. i instantly jumped in and said how important i felt that was for the emotional content of the poem. i like that touch of visual stimulation in the reading. Jonathan Williams has dozens of books of his poems where each poem is a different font, sometimes half a dozen fonts in one poem. he didn't seem to want to talk about it when i brought it up. but anyway, i wish i could somehow make that choice of fonts happen here on the blog, but these blogs have a limited --very limited-- selection of fonts.

i'll shut up now and post the poems...CAConrad


What is Art what is Context
What to do in a world
seen through & by & with language
Is Donald Rumsfeld a Poet
Is a Poet a Statesman by
Default & by language Crowned.
both of us anxious as
Butterflies slam into the windshield
Slap their wings into us & lie dotted
on the road there along there is no
way to avoid killing & still drive forward so
finally Please let's not
Let's make this world
between us, these
patterns Without
their tiny deaths
winged colors, our most Ancient,
Mayan Galactic Bugs. A pair
rises, X of four wings,
from the grill of my car,
yesterday, in the drive
way, like the hawk from that


Convulsive or not at all

I said, through a haze of liquor-shaded memory, chiarascuro -- or crepuscular -- I see you...naked?

He said, no, that wasn't me, that was someone else.

I said,... oh yes, you in a Hawaiian print shirt, and a woman with something on her head.

He said,... with her hair teased up, and a birdcage on her head?

I said,... Yes! And deep, deep paranoia, and lots of static, and fear that nothing could be communicated. A telephone... you shouting into the telephone... And so I got it, if what was to be said was that nothing could be communicated, you coummunicated that perfectly well.

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