Friday, July 3, 2009

Mammals and Birds

The previous post (July 1), photos of dolphins and whales being slaughtered for sustenance through the winter (though there is no food shortage), and for cottage industry products in the Faroe Islands (Denmark), was e-mailed to me after being uploaded from the site which lists itself at the bottom left of each gruesome photograph: It is an Arab website. Although it is true that much of the Muslim world has been targeting Denmark due to the cartoons picturing Muhammad, and the Danish government supporting the rights of its people to freedom of expression; nevertheless, the photos, unhappily, are accurate.

Perhaps it is time to support SEA SHEPHERD, not just Greenpeace. Greenpeace can't be everywhere, and it has become very bureaucratic, though they have demonstrated indisputable courage in the southern oceans. SEA SHEPHERD is more confrontational as a rule on the high seas now, in the struggle to end whaling. Perhaps it is more like PETA, on land, one of the best of the large animal rights organizations.


BIRDS, the new chapbook by Allen Fisher (Oystercatcher Press, 2009) just in. It is good to read Allen out there expanding a tradition of shifting discourse within the poem, first noticeably appearing (at least in English) as leitmotif in Dorn's GUNSLINGER, Books I and II (prior to its becoming more and more of a comic-epic, as in Chaucer and Pope), and at about the same time, quite independently of any American models, in the poetry of Asa Benveniste. J.H. Prynne took up this organic way of writng (natural, because it is present in the synapses of mind), and HIGH PINK ON CHROME (1975) is seminal. That distance which Dorn notes in GUNSLINGER "between here and formerly" is carried in Fisher's sequence into a hard-edged politcal space as the poet takes a train out of London and sees:

...a culture too
late for recovery to
avoid narrative traps to delineations
of low blow whistles to
demonstrate sonic coherence
or some parody of fairness

In the sequence of ten poems, hard riffs, which he calls "Proposals" - there are echoes of the methodology of Bill Grffiths's having the sound register slightly before the sense, and the post-Beat imaginative catalogues in Eric Mottram's poems, where the things which are creative energies are strung together like beads on string, what that often misused word "parataxis" signifies. In a different way, Allen Fisher's early work was a part of the innovative mainstream of The British Poetry Renaissance, 1965-'80, where "the matter of Britain" became a psychogeography, in the work, say, of Iain Sinclair. 30 years later, Fisher takes each line out into indeterminate space before melding it or sometimes defamiliarizing it, with a time cross. He wants a "negative entropy". The machine begins its exodus:

His thick neck and head lean from the
train with internal comprehension
of the departure moment and return to
a forward seat to narrate the occasion
he drives the engine out of the station over
exit junction towards the straight rails north
sound of a mallard a moped
a sheet of ice skidding
down a roof hitting
the pavement

These ten poems of ten lines each (except for one of 11 lines), like Braques's latelife bird paintings, are single-voiced rather than cubist and earn a lucidity rather than a turgidity. In his multi-voiced work after PLACE, Fisher thrashed through phases of fragmentation which disguised or rejected most lyric personisms and the merely decorative. Having moved laterally some, away from the turbulences of the more opaque procedures of GRAVITY AS A CONSEQUENCE OF SHAPE, which occupied him for 20 years, this little chapbook may herald a change.

Elaine Randell, Carlyle Reedy, Paige Mitchell are three on the English side of the pond who also have worked with this mode of lyric non-linear. They would make a nice Penguin. Among the younger poets, the poems which Claire Crowther recites on her website, and one of hers published by Carrie Etter (no relation to the great west of Chicago poet, Dave Etter) on her blog for June 27th, are excellently surprising, as is the generous sampling from Jennifer Moxley on that same blogsite on June 30th.

Among les jeunes in contemporary U.S. poetry, I like very much what I've seen of K. Lorraine Graham's book TERMINAL HUMMING (Edge), a 21st century use of Kathy Acker/Patti Smith, or Pam Burnell (UK). Also referenced on June 30th, on Jessica Smith's "looktouchblog" is an interview with Graham by Elisa Gabbert, on "The French Exit" (June 25th).