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A Reading Spicer and 18 Sonnets
“A warning is soothing/ a part of the landscape of sound/ in the inner ear/ this book nests in yr pocket hand/ vests interest in the larger structure/ the complex merger/ global markets.” So begins this new section of “A Reading,” the legendary long poem by Beverly Dahlen.
Prospect of Release, by Tom Mandel
(Chax Press Classics Series)
Tom Mandel was born in Chicago in 1942, the American child of Austrian Jews fleeing Hitler. He was educated in Chicago's public schools and jazz/blues clubs, and at the University of Chicago. He has lived in New York, Paris, and San Francisco, Washington DC, and now resides in Delaware.
Memento mori: sonnets. These 50 poems, 700 lines (neither number divisible by three), confront self, other, identity, loss, history, language and meaning through the most concrete instance we have of what the post structuralists call “an absent presence” —the death of a parent. This loss of apparent meaning (who gave you your name?) doubles (this father arrived by marriage, already a rhyme for the dead blood kin that came before), invoking tradition, transmission, instruction. Ritual (the sonnet, the ceremonies of grief) kaleidoscopes through its own echoes. “Do not speak these / words, but repeat them.” “Ghosts, all of them,” as Spicer said, though here it is Paul Celan's Shakespeare (of all possible bards) who thrusts the blade from behind the curtain:
The knife comes out clean; the cake
is done. Why does time pass? Because one
observes a rule. Why wear clothes? To model
a soul in paradise, clothed in its days.
“These are the most intensely felt poems I have ever read.” —Ron Silliman
New and profoundly resonant prose poems from anthropologist, editor, critic and translator Nathaniel Tarn. What holds it together is Tarn's ecstatic vision, his continuing enthusiasm for the stuff of the world…Since the death of Kenneth Rexroth, he is, with Michael McClure, the major celebrant of heterosexual love in the language. His combination of ingenious metaphor and sexual exuberance has been rare in the language since the 17th century…And like Rexroth & MacDiarmid, his poetry encompasses Eastern philosophy, world myth, revolutionary politics, and precise descriptions of the natural world — Eliot Weinberger.
A Reading 8-10
Beverly Dahlen is a native of Portland, Oregon, Beverly Dahlen has lived in San Francisco for many years. Her first book, Out of the Third, was published by Momo's Press in 1974. Two chapbooks, A Letter at Easter (Effie's Press, 1976) and The Egyptian Poems (Hipparchia Press, 1983) were followed by the publication of the first volume of A Reading in 1985 (A Reading 1-7, Momo's Press). Since then, three more volumes of A Reading have appeared. Chax Press published A Reading 8-10 (1992); Potes and Poets Press: A Reading 11-17 (1989); Instance Press: A Reading 18-20 (2006). Chax Press also published the chapbook A-reading Spicer & Eighteen Sonnets in 2004. Ms. Dahlen has also published work in numerous periodicals and anthologies. A forthcoming issue of Crayon will publish poetry and her essay on beauty.
“TV EYE is a rich engagement with the preconditions of words and the advances of thoughts and bodies. Baron provides readers with insights into the ways of transmission – how 'the eye plunders,' how 'we indicate/what we sound.' He is a scout of the movements of meaning and lyrical enchantments” -Roberto Bedoya.
Chantry is song. Chantry is song that exceeds song structure in all dimensions to become invocation and enchantment. From “the vessel without a cover” to “late silhouette in / blue” it refuses to be contained, as a book wants to live outside its covers. Sing this: “linger so this grace of grace,” yet sing it so that “the door cracks in so many different directions.” It is in these cracks, these interstices, that Elizabeth Treadwell finds and makes song, and the song exceeds and excels. Wordsworth defined poetry as spontaneous overflow of emotion, recollected in tranquility. Hear the overflow: “lovelove. all back-slaps and gummy smiles; free for honest mating?” and hear the invocation of a tranquility available for recollection and celebration: “inventing an alphabet / and feast their Beloved for awhile.” Throughout all, hear a language that irrepressibly invites the reader in, and creates a world worth the while, worth the song.
“Poetry and sleep have always been related to me. What do we seek when we lie down to rest but a pleasant landscape of language? inaudible rehearsals of the auditory, invisible practice of the visual. It is possible of course to be asleep and awake at the same time, indeed we are mostly, examples: driving the freeway and missing the exit engrossed in meditation, or better the ineluctable state of napping in my chair, when I leave me there and go out for closer observation, hearing even seeing everything that goes on around but not noticing my own snores” (from the Introduction by the Author).
“Allison Cobb's BORN TWO brings monsters out of memory and an unexpected sweetness out of the firestorms of language. Hers is the mind of poetry, driven by history and lured by love, caught in the act of the need to know. Like a child after family secrets, Cobb turns up more truths than the ones she seems to be seeking. Childlike, too, are her characters, whose adventures carry them nearer and nearer the beautiful, erotic, and tragic world of knowledge.”—Susan Tichy
“For this new century, a poetry of minus signs. Like many of her generation, Allison Cobb's curious about the wheres, whens and whys of our predicament. Through compression, cubtraction, amputation and dispersal, she manages to scrape a hole across the ice on the windshield. BORN TWO peels away the myths of the American West to reveal the twitchy nerve beneath.”—Kevin Killian