Monday, August 20, 2007

A book of PROPHECIES by John Wieners (Bootstrap Press, 2007) 

I'm very happy, and know you too will be very happy with this book! Just finished reading it, and am thinking you will want to read it too, if you haven't already. But I'm going to reread it, and maybe you will too, after you read it.

It's easy to order, it's not a problem at all. Go HERE

Many of these pages will keep you spellbound, and make you think too how something so marvelous could be hidden away for so long. Well, I think one poem was already published, but most of it is new to our eyes. It's a book written in 1971, between the books Nerves and Behind the State Capitol or Cincinnati Pike.

The very long list poem "Poets I Have Met" is a marvelous thing to wait for toward the end of the book. It's just a list of names, going on and on for pages. And some of it you think, oh yeah, names like Jonathan Williams, Robin Blaser, Jack Spicer, Denby, Duncan, Creeley.... And it's nice to meditate on this list, letting the mind flash different images or poems. Some of the names I've seen the work, but never a picture of the poet's face, like Salvatore Quasimodo for instance. And the list is interesting also because it's not in alphabetical order, so you wonder what drove the order? Was it Wieners randomly putting down names as they came to mind? Yet a name like Jonathan Williams appears very early on, and he knew and met him rather young, at Black Mountain, so maybe Wieners was making a list by chronology? Hard to be certain. And sometimes I was thinking, WHAT DID WIENERS THINK OF SO-AND-SO!? Like Louise Gluck for instance, which is more like, WHAT DID SHE THINK OF WIENERS!? But he knew, or at least met, e.e.cummings, Charles Henri-Ford, Zukovsky, Oppen, and the list makes you wish you could ask Wieners about all the names. I drove Jonathan Williams CRAZY the first time I met him. I decided to ask about a bunch of poets by way of asking about first impressions Jonathan had of them. Then a few hours later the same names but about the impact the work had on him, etc., and he finally needed to make himself a drink. He literally said, "You're making me need a drink!" That was funny!

There's a terrific introduction by Jim Dunn, which I'll excerpt a small piece from below, along with one poem. Just enough I think to make you want to get swimming the weird night waters with this genius poet.


from the introduction by Jim Dunn

The image of poet as a ghostly apparition casting himself into the future while anchored to the longings and desires of the past is an integral one that Weiners evokes many times in his work. The poet as wraith is reminiscent of the image Walt Whitman evokes in "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry," traversing the waters of time on the Brooklyn Ferry to the shores of future readership where he would become one with a new generation of readers; an audience that eluded him in his own times. "And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence, are more to me, and more in my meditations, than you might suppose." Wieners' desire to connect with any audience was more complicated than Whitman's. His relationship to his work is at the heart of his contradiction as an artist; he wrote heartbreakingly beautiful lyrics to past lovers and future readers, without particular concern if the work reached an audience at all.

Now, they can keep their business to themselves.
by John Wieners

A rainy dawn in Scollay Square
outside the Rialto Theatre
driven out by hirelings
hypnotized with past leaders

the blue mist crept up Hanover Street

down Cambridge Street over the hump of Beacon hill,
at the corner onto the Charles River horizon --
that sense of unfolding charisma

pressed one on to contemplate
our Swiss pendulum of transience
and permanency, between the variety
of markets and fire stations with doors open, that wait
for those who hesitate or investigate
the name of Boston, Charlestown, with Lynn.

To a cartographer, Glenda Farrell.

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