Postmodern Collage Poetry

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

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

China is Never Familiar

February 22nd 2005 Hong Kong, China

I used to travel allot for work and some places became very familiar and comfortable. I always looked forward to Spain, France, Mexico, South Africa and other places. This is to say nothing of places I have lived, Italy, Brazil, and Bolivia which are as comfortable as possible.

This is my fifth trip to Hong Kong, and I will be going to China, Vietnam and Singapore on this trip and I must say that this part of the world has never become comfortable for me.
I do not know if it is the money lust that is everywhere? or the in your face commercialism? but Asia has never become familiar to me or comfortable. The smells are strange, the expressions are different and try as I might I cannot get a sense of what is really going on below the surface.

I have only felt this way one other place, and this passed, when I lived in Bolivia, since the culture was predominantly indigenous in Bolivia and I am a person of Latin origin it took time to negotiate the vaguries of the culture, I think I got that culture when I was in Huachacalla, Bolivia which is in the Bolivian altiplano waiting for a total eclipse of the sun in 1994- two little boys came out of a gas station and saw me, with a full reddish beard and my priest friend in his full beard and they declared " mira! Mira ! los conquistadores estan aqui" (Look, look the conquistadores are here) my place in that society was set in place.

But in China and much of Asia I just cannot negotiate the place, the people work very hard and they have a focus that is tough to tolerate and understand. They can do anything, make anything and they are focused on business or whatever else they are doing. There is no sloppyness and no looseness-that is what I love the most about Latin America the looseness. So I just get exhausted here trying to keep up and trying to sheield myself from the neon lights and the people hawking everything.

So I am here in China, working with my Dad- touring factories and doing human rights certifications and trying to figure out what the world will be like when China is the leading world power?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


I have been thinking allot about what President Bush said in his State of the Union address- that the age of tyranny is over. President Bush is obviously deluded tyranny has just shifted Tyrants, from big governments to big corporations. One thing however that comes out of a market economy which is predominant in all of life, business, Fiction Writing, Film, and Visual Art is that the chaff is cut by the market and while it is harsh there is no room for weak unmarketable art. This may be a profound problem for art in general but it is not a problem for Poetry.

Poetry is an artform which functions like an aquarium rather than a real artistic ecosystem with all the conditions regulated and not effected by the outside world. While in fiction or business or visual art a critical structure exists which serves as a kind of governor Poetry has such a small audience that the artform is controlled by-other poets no matter how mediocre.

Mediocrity is the problem.

The reality is that getting a poetry book published is not that hard if you have friends who have a press, which is often the case for poets. The poetic life is also dominated by groups and camps but these do not make a real difference. What really takes the place of critique in the poetry world today are blogs, like this one- but some blogs are more important than others and this is again of problem of excluding the wider audience.

The most important Blog in poetry in the US today is Ron Silliman's. This is not because the blog is that interesting there are many others that are more insightful but because of marketing and duration he sits like the 1000 pound elephant in the room.

The problem with the focus on blogs is that Poetry again in this country is not reaching out to a wider audience and it is because of the fact that poets only talk to other poets, poets do not really dialogue with other artists and poets listen too much to the likes of bloggers and not to a public which loves the artform and is not part of the artform. Poets writing books for people who dont read them is not a recipe for relevance.

Poetry as an artform is becoming like Fox Hunting or Irish Curling or the Palio in Siena a curiosity. The reality is that Poets should dialogue among themselves in community but we should be directing our poetic voices towards our society and searching for an audience that is outside our own world.

Sunday, February 06, 2005


In the stew of my thoughts have been allot of fanaticism

fusing into insights on something that sits upon us all-fanaticism.

When I was in Brazil I read an interesting book about the reintroduction of Aristotle into Medieval Europe- it told of a story of a Spanish king who after Toledo fell to the Christians in the 11th Century gathered together the best scholars, Muslim, Christian and Jewish and translated the works of Aristotle into Latin. Aristotle's work washed over Europe; challenging Neo-Platonic Augustinian faithlife and beginning the work in which we live. Think about what the 11th and 12th century was like, the world where the Medieval World began to decline and the more open world began.

But fanaticism was everywhere then as now and so a man like St Thomas Aquinas was a heretic!?

Fanaticism and Reaction to progress is always with us, as an adherent to an Abrahamic faith the two sides of our history are this great gentleness/great harshness great art/great iconoclasm.
It is all ours, the murders caused by Joshua in the book of Kings, by Bar Kochba, the murders by Christians of Pagans and Jews, the Crusades, the Jihads by Muslims against Christians and Zoroastrians, the river of blood is long and full of questions.

In my own Catholic tradition we have had the greatest innovators the most humanly divine people, St Francis, St Cecilia, the Desert Fathers, Giotto, Dante, Hildegard of Bingen, Meister Eckhart, Caravaggio, Mozart and the most horrible, evil villains, Tomas De Torquemada, Francisco Pizarro, Savanarola, Francesco Borgia, and yes Hitler and Peron and Franco.

I watched a movie recently- the Hamburg Cell, where they showed the development of the men who engaged in September 11th 2001. The thing I came away with is how similar these highjackers were to fanatics of all kinds. Fanatics who get a pass in history and those who dont.
If you call yourself a Marxist or a Christian or Jew or a Muslim or a human being then fanaticism is your inheritance.

This is the problem.

There is no moral difference between Marxist fanatics in Russia or China or Latin America, who by the way have killed millions, or Fascist fanatics, or Fundamentialist Christian fanatics, Catholic Fanatics, Hindu Fanatics or Islamic fanatics. What they all have in common are the Boxcars, and the camps I wish only the worst for people who think they know everything.

the sureness of thinking that they know all and others are 'unclean'.

I scream for an end to equivocation.

The problem is that the world we live in is setting forth facts that challenge and instead of accepting facts, women are equal to me, Evolution is true, Freedom is Better, Secular Separation of Church and State avoids death, people would rather retreat to their ghetto and then from that Ghetto go out and try to force others to believe in a constricted God a constricted world and world that ignores the facts and perverts the truth.

The number one selling book in the USA is the Left Behind Series, which talks about the end of the world, and has more in common with Osama Bin Laden then it does with Jesus or Lincoln

Don't people see the parallels?

Don't people understand that it is not 1200?

I wish that we could resurrect Maimonides, St Francis and Rumi and put them on TV and that people could here them and understand- that YHWH and Allah and Jesus are all the same and that in the end when one group is oppressed eventually all will be oppressed.

I refuse to let the fanatics have our culture

I refuse to hate people for their religion or the fact that they call God something different

I refuse to think that Art and Poetry are sinful

I refuse to let death triumph over Life

I refuse to let the fanatics win no matter if they are Christian, Jewish, Muslim or Hindu