Postmodern Collage Poetry

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

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Spring in Chicago

Peter Gizzi wins Guggenheim Fellowship-Robert Creeley Dies-Saul Bellow Dies

Good News Peter Gizzi won a Guggenheim Fellowship with all the garbage that is
published these days by 'poets' it is wonderful that a great poet like Peter is recognized.

Been reading allot of Latin American and Latin European Poets of late. I find all this work so filling and satiating. When reading Vallejo or Montale or Bonvicino the inate Latinness comes through the long linguistic history and the fact that poetry in these languages is still poetry and poetic in a way that poetry in English is not.

The more I read Vallejo the more I think that he is the greatest poet in any language of the 20th century (Said about Neruda who is good but Vallejo is great). I also must say that Clayton E's translations are really top notch.

Chicago had a really great tribute reading for Robert Creeley last week, I read along with Mary Margaret Sloan, Kerri Sonnenberg, John Tipton, Jen Karmin, Robert Von Helsberg and Peter O'Leary, also Chuck Stebelton contributed a piece of audio read by Creeley. John Beer and Joel Craig from the Danny's Series organized it and they did a great job. This was the most gentle
poetry event I have been to in Chicago. I read the canto below from il paradiso the website it is from is listed below from Columbia University, this is Mandelbaum's translation which is superior to many others but i added the Italian.

Oh quanto è corto il dire e come fioco
al mio concetto! e questo, a quel ch'i' vidi,
è tanto, che non basta a dicer 'poco'.

How incomplete is speech, how weak, when set
against my thought! And this, to what I saw.
is such-to call it little is too much.

O luce etterna che sola in te sidi,
sola t'intendi, e da te intelletta
e intendente te ami e arridi!

Eternal Light, You only dwell within
Yourself, and only You know You; Self-knowing,
Self-known, You love and smile upon Yourself!

Quella circulazion che sì concetta
pareva in te come lume reflesso,
da li occhi miei alquanto circunspetta,

That circle-which, begotten so, appeared
in You as light reflected-when my eyes
had watched it with attention for some time,

dentro da sé, del suo colore stesso,
mi parve pinta de la nostra effige:
per che 'l mio viso in lei tutto era messo.

within itself and colored like itself,
to me seemed painted with our effigy,
so that my sight was set on it completely.

Qual è 'l geomètra che tutto s'affige
per misurar lo cerchio, e non ritrova,
pensando, quel principio ond'elli indige,

As the geometer intently seeks
to square the circle, but he cannot reach,
through thought on thought, the principle he needs,

tal era io a quella vista nova:
veder voleva come si convenne
l'imago al cerchio e come vi s'indova;

so I searched that strange sight: I wished to see
the way in which our human effigy
suited the circle and found place in it-

ma non eran da ciò le proprie penne:
se non che la mia mente fu percossa
da un fulgore in che sua voglia venne.

and my own wings were far too weak for that.
But then my mind was struck by light that flashed
and, with this light, received what it had asked.

A l'alta fantasia qui mancò possa;
ma già volgeva il mio disio e 'l velle,
sì come rota ch'igualmente è mossa,

Here force failed my high fantasy; but my
desire and will were moved already-like
a wheel revolving uniformly-by

l'amor che move il sole e l'altre stelle.
the Love that moves the sun and the other stars


At a time with so much death- the Pope, Frank Perdue, Robert Creeley, Saul Bellow I needed Dante, hell I do not think that there is day that goes by where I do not read something by Il Poeta.

Saul Bellow died this week and the New York Times fealt free to tell us how Professor Bellow wrote about Chicago but he really loved New York! I am sorry but New York is a great place but Saul Bellow belongs to us, he is Humboldt Park, he is Chicago's great White Ethnic and Jewish voice. When I first read Augie March I was transfixed. Saul Bellow (along with Nelson Algren)
understood the grit and grime and joy of Chicago, a Chicago which in many ways no longer exists. I found this to be the case when I returned to Chicago after being away for 10 years.
Chicago is less rough and less raw than it used to be. The fact that the entire northside from Western to the Lake is now populated by people who use All Clad cookwear and drive Volvo's might have something to do with it. I find more of Bellow's Chicago in the ring of city neighborhoods and suburbs that goes from Skokie through Oak Park to Garfield Ridge to Oak Lawn this ring extending to say Elmhurst and Park Ridge and down to La Grange is more like Chicago, at least the Chicago I knew a crazy mix of White Ethnic, Black and Mexican where people are just people; much of Chicago's center city is now populated by the doyennes of Crate and Barrel and Gibson's Steaks.

Bellow brought out a Chicago that is in many ways a myth but he also made Chicago a great literary city a city like Paris, London and Dublin that can be encapsulated into books and stories. If anyone needs to be buried in Chicago, preferably in Humboldt Park it is this man of our streets.

So it is Spring, the Sox are doing well (we shall see how long this lasts) the weather is warm (We shall see how long this lasts) and life continues to move forward.