Introduction by Tim Peterson*
My poetry, and my thinking about poetry, consists of two stages. The first is a critique of existing conditions, styles, or institutions. The second is an offering of something new. Without an offering, we hover in a fog of reaction.
When you are surrounded by nothing but sand on all sides, cacti begin to seem encouraging between your teeth where nothing else grows. Pardon my expression, but it's like things have just been plunked down, there a concrete building, there a lizard. Though I'm wrong again, hardly unanimous. And it's damn hot. It looks like a short walk from here to there, a lot of intervening atmosphere.
Let's see, big statue of Paul Bunyan, Sabino Canyon, Taqueria Juanitos, 14 Drachman, apartment #128, will I always be some kind of tourist? My back burns. Soft city, palo verde, dear pet buried in the ravine over that ridge.
The sky can remind you of your smallness, or find itself reflected as a globe in the eye. Share of neoned-in built out there, ambitious glare.
From my time living in Tucson, these are some of the great poets and people I have been privileged to know. I see in their work a kind of energy and useful direction, from the mingling strands of Black Mountain, New York School, Beat, and other avant-garde influence found among the POG collective, Biblio Books, and elsewhere, to the beautifully designed handmade books that Chax Press regularly publishes. And there are many individuals featured here, friends who I admire and whose poetry embodies some of their best qualities. I am throwing all these poets together in one place, and letting their work resonate in unexpected ways.
A few trends I see here. A little bit more openness toward: let's not edit our poems down and make them perfect, as in harmless. Let's try to keep some of that energy that occurred when we first approached the page; the daemonic, the semiotic, whatever possessed us to write that thing, let's not go smooth it over later, or sand down the edges.
Another thing: not that all of these writers are "lyric", but for those that are, lyricism does not simply mean awe. It may contain awe, but it can be bigger than that, than that hitting the same key repeatedly on the piano. It can incorporate the totality, naturally heterogeneous, chaotic, incorporating both sonorous and dissonant sounds, public, private. Echo of speech, how long faded in which arm blood flows? Not thrown in towel, urgency of sound spoken. Monad, or thrown voice, even.
These poets are all to some extent letting language write them, with an eye to the world around them. They have given up a measure of control regarding the experience and replaced that with humility, an openness to being changed by what they are writing, to listening. Acts of attention.
With that offering, I will
let the work speak for itself.
*Note: This journal of Tucson writers was originally assembled for another online magazine; the poems now appear here because they are no longer available on that site.