Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

I had hoped that everyone who wanted to get out of the hurricane’s path, got out. Obviously, not everybody did.

So terrifying the destruction, so awful, so sad the aftermath. So mind-boggling the vastness of the problems.

Here is a link to the Red Cross.

* * *

Ange Mlinko, the Bachelardette, makes me want to re-read Plato, never a simple proposition. He’s generally entertaining and thought-provoking, but his main character, Socrates, is the least honest slicky boy in town, a slicky tricky trickster of rhetoric and disingenuousness. Sometimes I want to shout at his interlocuter, “Run away! These people want to kill you!” I don’t believe that Socrates literally wants to kill, say, Protagoras, but the con is so smooth, I feel for the mark.

* * *

Noticed that Ms. Mlinko’s book of poems (which I haven’t read) got a nice “brief note” in last week’s “New Yorker.” The anonymous reviewer cited Frank O’Hara as an influence, always a good omen for me.

My college poetry prof imparted a love for FO’H to me in 1982. FO’H died in 1966; born the same year as Coltrane, Chuck Berry, Miles, Allen Ginsberg, 1926; died the year before Coltrane; like Trane, still a contemporary.

But Blaise Cendrars is still a contemporary too, as near as I can tell from reading the po-blogs I like to read. (Cendrars a probable influence on O’Hara -- guessing here.)

* * *

Langpo might better be called Asyntactilism. With roots in Surrealism (Cendrars and Apollinaire more than Breton), Gertrude Stein, and Jack Spicer (who might be redundant on this list).

Just because your poem is disjunctive doesn’t mean it’s not lyric. Even if not a representation of a meditating consciousness, then both a product of one and an object presented for meditation.

Difference between oratory and oratorical poetry: Oratory seeks to rouse the listener to action; oratorical poetry seeks to rouse the listener to a beautiful experience.

In *my* book, it’s all School of Quietude, whether the School is Iowa or Black Mountain -- it’s all page-poetry meditative quiet stuff. Excepting Ginsberg, who’s of the oratorical tradition, and probably a few others -- Duncan at times.

The split isn’t Quietude v. Avant-Garde; the bigger split is meditative v. oratorical. Which is why Sandburg got dropped from the modernist all-star team -- too oratorical -- even though he’d been part of the modernist explosion of 1913 (American version, a couple years later than the French, and ignorant of Stein getting there ahead of them). Ginsberg made the cut somehow, probably due to his generosity of spirit and -- more important -- personal affiliations.

It was refreshing and illuminating to see Ron Silliman, a while back, admit that when he said “School,” he really meant clique. The clarification explains why Ginsberg is hip despite his oratory, and why Robert Bly is “quiet,” in Ron's estimation. Like or dislike Bly’s poetry, it’s silly to label a widely known public activist, cantankerous editor, noisy translator of surrealist poetry, and arranger of political public readings “quiet.” He’s “quietudinarian” simply because he doesn’t affiliate himself with the cliques Ron admires. (Bly and Jerome Rothenberg, who is firmly of at least one of the cliques that Ron approves, recognized each other as fellow spirits, 40 years ago, but they seem to have drifted apart.)

I’d guess that Silliman’s deep entrenchment in the meditative scene makes it impossible for him to see and/or hear the oratorical strand that’s been alive and kicking hard for almost 20 years now, following the trail of the Slam. That’s the more vivid division in poetry now, not avant v. “quiet,” but oratorical v. meditative.

Oh yeah? Yeah!

* * *

My friend the writer and pianist Emily Dietrich reports on taking her family to see a live touring show of American Idols:

“We went to American Idol Live last Tuesday. It was very, very American. By that I mean that the following sights were seen:

A primly dressed Asian lady in her 70s with her pinky and index finger in the air, rocking to Scotty the Body's "On Broadway"

A man wearing a yarmulke and sporting a bushy peppered beard

Two straightened-haired African American tweens smiling broadly and screaming

Two blondes in sparkling look-at-me tops waving a Greek flag for Constantine Maroulis, who sang "Funny Valentine"

My son, devastated to learn that his favorite, Bo Bice, would not be performing that night or again on the tour due to surgery

My daughter, cheering for Vonzell, her favorite, and moaning with boredom at the extended set for the Chosen American Idol, Carrie Underwood

Me, dancing like crazy and sing-yelling to every song I knew.

The whole diverse audience singing "R-O-C-K in the USA" at the top of our lungs.”
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