Sunday, November 8, 2009


elm trees at dawn November 7, 2009

When in Maine this October I picked up a nearly complete set of Science History of the Universe, published by The Current Literature Publishing Company, New York (1911). There is something especially interesting is reading one hundred year old scholarship and science. I do not have any of the "oh we are so much smarter now" attitude. I'm intensely interested in the words, phrases, metaphors, threads of thoughts, all the older ways of thinking. The section on Literature by is by the Managing Editor for the entire series Francis Rolt-Wheeler. He says in beginning that the essential difference between Speech and Writing is "the former appeals to the ear, the latter to the eye." He writes that the Chinese never conceived a smaller unit than a word and only when "an alien people" the Phenicians took to their own language the best "expedients at which Egypt arrived"did the alphabet come to be.
glyph of poetry at the yoga loft

For some time as a book-maker as well as a poet and writer, I've wondered at what the poem as an energy field consisted of when the page is "decorated" by an additional graphic image. Another book that is holding my interest is Daniel Belgrad's THE CULTURE OF SPONTANEITY published by The University of Chicago Press (1998). Both books have chapters on the beginning of writing, movement from picture to pictograph. Details of time and abstract conceptions are difficult to convey from the single picture. A record in pictograph form ( think a cartoon strip) can more completely tell a story. Belgard's Chapter 3 is titled Ideogram and his interest is how the avant-garde artists used native american pre-Columbian art to link ideas in paintings through "spontaneous picture-writing" Belgard also associates a number of poets ( such as Charles Olson's cultural-political project of reaching back and down) with a rejection of the abstract and impersonal qualities in modern culture's lack of attention to the local and specific life. The next stage of writing, referred to as the ideogram and as "hieroglyph" or simply "glyph" (think Chinese characters) is favored because it avoids the complete abstraction of phonetic alphabets and operates differently as "image" Ezra Pound wrote on his poetic method (1914), "the image is itself the speech. The image is the word beyond formulated language." The associations found with the field create complexities of meaning, expression and energy.

Poets from Top: Albert Glover, Dale Hobson, Paul Doty

Such is my introduction to my glyph of poetry at the yoga loft. After our four person reading set up in the yoga loft above The Blackbird Cafe in Canton, I left town and drove to my cabin. I knew I was staying there on what might be a cold November night and so I had set a fire in the woodstove the last time I was there, earlier in October. I had driven the four plus hours from Albany, N.Y. staring out at about 2 pm and found the mountains and highland from Newcomb to past Colton covered with snow. Thankfully as I came down off of Waterman Hill there was only a powdering of white. It turned out to be a cold night with temperatures in the twenties. Liquid in the evening, the marsh was frozen surface by the next morning. I was still buzzed from poetry by the time I got the lamps lit and the room warm. There was a good poetry crowd at the reading and my fellow poets, Paul Doty, Albert Glover and Dale Hobson delivered in good form as I would expect them to. My mind and heart were racing, filled with their words and of the social "intersubjectivity" of new and old voices, new and old friends. I took advantage by craving two new woodblocks and inscribing the ideogram in which I hope to communicate to them (and you). The greek is graphein to scratch, write and so I scratch and record an inspiring event.