Want to hear a platitude? No. Okay, I settle in to blog and just want to apologize. And the apology’s just kind of an idle hiss. But with a lot of feeling. But the feeling is pure noise, and no steam.
Last week, sitting down with pages and pages of notes on Dana Ward, Alli Warren and Brandon Brown and left with an hour or so to write. Up high, down low, too slow. Want to hear a not-platitude? More like a plea? I’m finding Dana’s chapbook Typing Wild Speech (Summer BF press, 2010) to be one of those rare events that could easily move someone to launch a press. I’ve found a lot of company, anticipating Dana’s first full collection. Who wouldn’t want to have an intimate hand in that occasion?
Typing Wild Speech, alternating verse and prose meditations, is casually framed by the first of many nested anecdotes, that of a game played by Dana and his partner, Sarah:
“When Sarah & I watch movies we like to game resemblances. The game, insofar as it is one, depends upon poetic resolution & the charmed associations we draw between performers & their peers, or more seductively, between beautiful actors & our friends. Our agreements in this game are erotic, confirming shared indices of faces & bodies that when opened to identical entries circulate correlated ooh-la-la’s between us. The disagreements are minor catastrophes wherein the border between us is massed with warring troops. Détente must be achieved before the third act concludes.”
The first film put to the game is Control, about the life of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis. It becomes the occasion for an extended meditation—always returning to the game as a pedal, and never introducing new concerns that don’t later meet with repetition and re-versioned significance. From Control, we find ourself ushered to David Larsen’s The Thorn (Faux Press, 2005) which we learn includes (a reproduction of) a handwritten poem, “Wild Speech”. Which is, by no coincidence, also the title of the first poem in Dana’s Typing Wild Speech. Dana begins to explain, “I had fantasies of publishing my typed version as a poem of my own as I continue to be taken with modes of individuated unoriginality…” That in mind, we’re soon moved back to Ian Curtis, and his resemblance vis-a-vis ‘the game’ to Geoff, a friend of Dana’s who had taken his life. This relay of resemblance… these relays of resemblance, Ian to Geoff, Dana to Ian to Geoff, David to Sarah to Ian to Geoff, Dana to David, are conduits for empathic charge. Figure. Resemblance to friend. Relay. Light. Lover sharing in figure’s resemblance to friend. Relay. Light…
Resemblance and empathy. Even here, on the posture of calling oneself ‘poet’:
“I’ve allowed a lot of myth to hold sway over how I perform that for myself. Some writers claim an important distinction. They are not ‘a poet’ but ‘a person who writes poetry’, & in making this distinction they dissolve an alienating modality that abets false consciousness…. I used to see ‘being a poet’ as an intoxicating costume that was just over there & if I could inch ever closer to it I’d be contaminated fully & mixed with its essence forever. Often times I have nothing to add to this confusion beyond the lightning storm of my own political depravations, for which my poetry is an endless sea of waiting metal rods. So there’s the face of a part of my trouble. Thus, as a ‘poet’, I must drink, must smoke, must travel, must dodge employ as much as possible. I guard these aspects jealously as I’ve allowed their presence to assume a causal life inextricably linked to my production as a poet. A sort of Fordist assemblage of romantic clichés that when operating in consort give me access to a consciousness that floods the factory backwards, destroying it, & that’s called a poem.”
It’s so easy to quote Dana, but how to keep it brief? It’s hard to know where to stop typing, even harder to want to stop. It feels too good being his pianist. Did it feel this good for Dana to be David’s pianist? “I type David’s poem again, slower this time, & pretend that the keyboard’s a piano….” The meditation really moves, and where it moves is “around”, and the casual urgency of its observations never land without some order of propulsive and intimate hesitancy that makes reading forward uncomfortably resistless.
The casualness of Dana’s strange wagers are so effortless I can’t help thinking of conjury. And the finger—that primary conjurer’s organ, on convulsive display when (merely) claiming impossible extensions of will onto environment, and in almost fluid repose when retracting that claim in private and (merely) setting up trick—the finger, is that the finger in the book’s opening poem, “Wild Speech”?
I am drawing a finger in the sand
With a crooked finger, and I am
Leading you on with it
Showing you the way, the way
Im throwing a French Fry
To the dog La
La La La
Already you’re less deceived
I’ve been reading Typing Wild Speech alongside Aaron Kunin’s The Sore Throat (Fence Books, 2010) and Brandon Shimoda’s The Alps (Flim Forum, 2008). They make fascinating if forced company, but it’s late. I sat down about an hour ago, to write this post on The Alps. Next with The Alps. Has anyone been reading The Alps?