Postmodern Collage Poetry

A blog about writing collage poetry, post modern poetry, multi lingual poetry

Friday, April 30, 2004

The Italian Diaspora

During most of my early adulthood I spent time in Latin America where I felt completely comfortable. The fact is that Latin America is a better fit for me it is Latin and Catholic and open. One of the things that I learned living in Latin America was the importance and how neglected the Italian Diaspora is. The fact that I use the term Italian Diaspora is odd to many literati but I must tell you that a mystical bond exists between those of us who come from the Italian pennisula. I have friends who are Italo-Brazilians, Italo-Argentines and Italo-Australians and I am Italian American and there is a bond, a link something that ties us together. Real Italians are pretty stupid in the sense that unlike other nations they have never learned to use these communities to their advantage. Greeks, Irish, Indians and many others do. But what interests me most as a poet is a dialogue between poets of the Italian Diaspora, what did we take from the land of Dante and Petrarcha to the lands of Whitman, Andrade, Borge and more? What have we brought forth in new lands? And what makes us and adds to us? I sit, I listen, and I am filled with the Glory of God, as Thomas Aquinas said; we need to listen and sit and be filled with the liturgy that is poetry sung from the world and from our Italian Diaspora.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

The Fraternity of Poets

Last week I was in Guatemala on business- before I left New York and returned to Chicago to live I used to travel allot and I was able to go some great poetic hot spots quite regularly, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Milan, Paris, Hong Kong and many other locales were frequented. But since I opened my own business I dont travel much. But I spent the week in Guatemala and I had an experience of note.

After visiting every company in Guatemala for business I went to a local bookstore to look for some local writing. A lovely woman helped me and we began to talk, she helped me find some fine books and then as a special gift she gave me a copy for he own hand made book, I believe her name is Adeliada Loukas she is a poet from Guatemala. I have become entranced with this work and with this encounter. The fraternity of poets has a similar flavor with a sense we Catholics call the Mystical Body. All poets are linked by memory, language and the liturgy of poetics. This linkage is a sacred thing while in our north America poets are not important in other places they are and it is our questioning that makes this fraternity grow.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Why I Chose

Of late in the recent blog post there were some questions raised on why I chose to use the term Postmodern in the title of the website I created as a resource and calendar for Chicago and Midwest innovative writing; So here is the rationale;1) Chicago is Slam Town, we are subjected to a torrent of Slam propaganda and slam dominates much of the meagre media coverage poetry gets here in Chicago. All the poets and series here is Chicago that are not part of this Slamnation come at poetry out of a tradition that is Post Language, Post-Post Modern and we did not have a place to get information.

2) I have yet to see a definition of what period we are in now in Poetry? Post-Post Language? Someone give me a good catchall phrase that can hold, Robert Creeley, Catherine Daly, Paul Hoover, Charles Bernstein and Rachel Blau DuPlessis and I will use it.

3) The URL was free- all other urls that have Chicago and Poetry in the name are owned by Slamsters so
here we are.

My goal with the site is to create an information site for serious poetics for our region. In New York there are many sites, as their are in SF but in Chicago all we had were slam sites- so we changed that.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

A Child With A Sword and a Cross

Around this time I year I always have time to reflect of Holy Week. From 1993-1998 I lived in Latin America, in Catholic countries where Holy Week is something more than a 1/2 day off on Good Friday. In Bolivia, Cochabamba where I lived Holy Week was taken seriously, in fact more seriously than Easter.

I worked in Bolivia in a prison. The priest we had in our jail, Fr Benoit, created for me the perfect Holy Thursday, as many know Catholic priests wash the feet of the congregation on Holy Thursday in homage to Jesus. Benoit, a worker priest, asked the inmates, 6000 living in a city block to wash each other's feet. And they did, for three hours. This was the closest I have been to the spirit of the Gospels in my life, not in Rome, not in Assisi not even in my 'socially progressive' home parish did anyone approximate this level of peace. But 6000 inmates washing feet in Bolivia, more spiritual than anything at the Vatican.

When however I left Jail for the night I spent the night wandering from church to church as is done in Bolivia 'visiting' the Blessed Sacrament. It is the custom for Catholics to do this to spend hours in prayer reflecting on the Passion of Jesus. In Cochabamba, a very poor city, people pulled out all the stops and every colonial church was filled with people, prostrate, visiting the enormous altars constructed for the event.

Then of course Good Friday, processions, chains around waists, penitentes with their tall black hats, all of this dramatic and full of anguish. Easter Sunday, the Churches were half full there was little time for resurrection. It reminds me of a Bolivian who told me once " you cannot possibly understand us and our lives, your flag flies on the moon" and how could I understand them? It was the suffering that mattered to these people and this colored their lives not some Easter lilied notion of rebirth. Most Americans, Catholic or Protestant cannot understand this and this is a feeling that sits on me and causes me to reflect on the Passion.

To understand this pain you need only go to Lima, and see the Statue of Francisco Pizarro, astride his horse, and his Tomb in the Cathedral of Lima festooned always with Flowers to try to understand this psychology of pain. The man who destroyed the Inca Empire and brought slavery to South America is lauded with a statue and a tomb of fine Italian marble.

Holy Week has resulted in allot of violence against Jews, native people and many others; Jerusalem was conquered during the Crusades on Good Friday and the Crusaders killed the Jews and Muslims singing Pange Lingua, Cuzco, the Inca Capital was also taken on Good Friday and after they cleared the plaza of Indian Dead they venerated the cross as we still do in Catholic Churches today by kissing the wood of the cross. Christians with a Child and a Sword have reeked much havoc.

But so has everyone else. Muslims and Christians are tied for hypocrite religions in my mind shall we pair up atrocities? Crusades/Muslim Invasion of Egypt in 650, Moors invade Spain/Catholics Reconquer Spain, Muslims Invade Ethiopia/Eithiopians Invade Yemen, Russians Kill Turks/Turks Kill Armenians. and on and on until as Gandhi said the whole world is blinded. And now our Jewish friends are in the act in Israel killing Palestinians. No one gets the message of the Passion, that we are to be servants, not masters.
All of this is my history, it has to be embraced, opposed but embraced. The fact is that I believe fully that
Jesus, Mohammed, and Moses have long ago cried their eyes dry from our cruelity and lack of sense.
Mozart said once that he remained Catholic because the thought that he would be cut off from taking Communion is Chartres Cathedral was too horrifying for him to endure. I remain a Catholic Christian because to leave is too easy and we must face our history fully. Running away to some secular nirvana will not solve these evils, that has been tried and the result is Auschwitz and the Gulag.

Unlike many of my poet friends I will be in Church for the Triduum of Easter reflecting on a Child with a sword and a cross. I will not turn away from all of this but I will embrace it blood and all and continue to ask why?

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Dance of the Poets

Of late Chicago has been deluged with poetry events and it is fun to watch these events especially the dance of the poets. With this I mean most poetry readings are filled with other poets, who are trying to gain favor with the readers because this favor will lead to future successes. So like dervishes whirling poets edge up the the readers, try to see if the reader knows their names and then see if they can make a connection. This a phenomenon more prevalent in New York but it has entered Chicago now and so needs to be commented upon. There are some realities of poetry- since Poetry has little money value, prizes, magazine publications and chapbooks are the key to being taken seriously.

There are some things however which are disturbing about the trend. it was said once that all the serious poets in the world would fit inside of a small baseball park, say Fenway Park in Boston. This is prob. true
and as a result we don't do the kind of marketing of our work that Fiction Writers must do to sell their work and hence we are not known by the non poet public. I think that marketing is the key here everyone read Kerouac because he marketed himself well. But today Poets do not do this and as a result poetry flounders in a ghetto.

The truth is however that poetry is the only literary artform, fiction and non-fiction are fine crafts but they do not exist to 'make it new' they only exist to generate formulaic books that make money, the difference between poetry and prose and non fiction is like the difference between meals, Gourmet (poetry) Diner (prose) and Protein Shake (Non Fiction) but Poets do a lousy job of convincing people of this fact.