Postmodern Collage Poetry

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

Friday, April 28, 2006

The Poetic Death of Marshall Fields

It was announced today in the Chicago Tribune that by summer Marshall Fields will be no more.

This story along with others has caused me to pause and to reflect. In his book of poetry called Revenants and then in another Shut Up Shut Down, Poet Mark Nowak talks about the end of White Ethnic/Working Class America vis a vis closed factories and bars in Ethnic neighborhoods. Nowak's America is a little bleaker than mine but it is a poetic America most poets have chosen to ignore and in its place they have chosen to write about art or pop films.

I have been fortunate in my life to have lived in or been influenced by great unique locales- Lombardia in Italy, Brazil, Bolivia and of course Chicago.

But I have also had the experience of living in the great anticeptic America that is like an ooze wearing away uniqueness. I lived in Dallas for three years and I had some great friends, poets and non poets but Dallas is what America has become and it means something more than easy access to parking. I remember once being in Orlando, Florida and seeing a building that looked like the White House but it was upside down?! Only in places like Florida where there is no history and where the strip mall and the strip club are high art could this building exist.

If you grew up in a place like Chicago or any city from New England, Mid Atlantic, Midwest or Upper South there were some solid things that existed that over my lifetime (1967-Today) have been removed. Working class people in this America were the backbone on our cities; today huge factories like the Western Electric Plant in Cicero, Illinois or Southworks in Chicago or the Sears Complex in Chicago are either empty lots or "loft" conversions. This also goes for neighborhoods and parishes where today neighborhoods that I knew no longer exist and the parishes are closed.

So what is the point of the Poetic Death of Marshall Fields?

A store that most working class Chicagoans could not even afford to buy in?

It is the removal of an icon of what if meant to arrive in a city like Chicago. Nelson Algren, Studs Terkel, and alike could write about the down and out and the working class but the minute that those people moved up one of the constants was having the chance to shop at Marshall Fields, eat in the Walnut Room and walk into the Atrium of that 100 year old store that when it was built was not open to Blacks, Jews, Ethnic Catholics or others.

It is in the unique places that poetry is found, places that cannot be replicated. But the unique places are slowly going away. Go to the lower East side of Manhattan and after you leave the Starbucks ask me if this is a place that is so much different from anticeptic America?

Nelson Algren's Wicker Park is today an "artist yuppie" Disneyland, New Orleans, one of the unique places is no longer on the map, in Places like Italy and France people protest to retain their daily rhythms and they are told that they are "retrograde" and "lazy" so the Italian two hour lunch is gone and the four hour Bolivian siesta is gone and the Italians and Bolivians begin to get obese and stressfilled and for what end?

I recently wrote about the Italian painter Garosio who painted the Pre Alpine people of Italy. Garosio was of the place where he painted he understood the fibers of he people he saw and he understood the rhythm of their lives. It seems that the goal of the current world is to remove this from us and to replace that rhythm with the white ear buds of an IPod or the simple banality of the Dallas Galleria.

So as I go out this morning into my Chicago street with its distinctive brick bungalows
and grid of streets I will enjoy the last bit of uniqueness. Then I will go to Target to buy stuff......

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Anna Akhmatova -Garosio

I am reading a new biography of Anna Akhmatova-

What comes across from her life and many others is how serious and what consequences her work had on her life and situation. When I compare a poet like this to some of our current discussions our vapidness and shallow self regard becomes evident.

Spending allot of time with my Nonna who is 92 and on her way out she is the last of her generation 5 siblings that all lived past 90. We were talking yesterday about the great Italian artist Ottorino Garosio who was a friend and sometimes border with my family in their hotel. Garosio was an interesting man. He painted in the expressionistic style of the mid 20th Century and he chronicled the end of a world that no longer exists. the mountain cultures of the pre Alps are thousands of years old and his paintings are the few reminders of this culture. Garosio was interesting as well that he survived World War II alive because the Germans thoughts he was nuts. I put some images on the top of the blog.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things

Gilbert Sorrentino I was told at AWP that he is recovering from some major surgery. I hope he is well I have found Sorrentino's work so moving and timely. His insights and lit essays poetry and fiction has just enough bite and just enough snap for me.

I picked up a biography of Joseph Cornell at Seminary Coop. Since I was a kid I have loved his boxes and I can remember getting lost in them at the Art Institute. His insights are something Collage is is such a hard thing and it requires as sense of composure that most artists dont have.

Recently on the Buffalo list their has been talk about Sor Juana and other Spanish language poets. I find Spanish Language poetry interesting because of the tension between conservative and radical. A writer like Neruda or Vallejo can be radical but somehow the traditional Spanish norms are always there. the loss of the lyric which is so evident in English never arrived in Spanish language poetry. I have spent so much time recently with Brazilian poetry and seeing how much American and Brazilian have in common in comparison to our American brethern who speak Spanish.

Studs Terkel has been on the TV allot. He is 92 years old, the same age as my Grandmother. Listening to him is so satiating. When he talks about being an agiator. The US has lost this we have become so proper and so banal. Most Chicago people don't even know what happened at Haymarket Square. We have become a nation of suburbanites.

The Chinese president was here this week; he was heckled welcome to America Mr Hu.

The Cubs First Baseman Derrek Lee Broke a wrist, normally I would not care what happens to the Cubs as I am a white sox fan but the Cubs and their fans seem so sad to me. At one time the Cubs/Sox rivalry was fun but not so anymore. We won the World Series and they are still talking about curses. I hurt for my Cub fan friends but not for the Lincoln Park Trixies. By the way we are first place and how about Thome?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Against Poetic Heresy

Today the winner of the 2006 Pulitzer in poetry was announced as Claudia Emerson (?) . another mediocre boring poet has been lionized by official verse culture.

She joins such luminaries and poetic revolutionaries as

Donald Justice (Atheneum) Poet of Light

James Schuyler (Farrar, Straus)
American Primitive by Mary Oliver (Atlantic-Little, Brown) Give me a
Carolyn Kizer (BOA Editions)
The Flying Change by Henry Taylor (Louisiana State University Press)
Partial Accounts: New and Selected Poems by William Meredith (Alfred A. Knopf)
New and Collected Poems by Richard Wilbur (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich)
Near Changes by Mona Van Duyn (Alfred A. Knopf)
Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems by Yusef Komunyakaa (Wesleyan University Press/University Press of New England)
The Simple Truth by Philip Levine (Alfred A. Knopf)
Alive Together: New and Selected Poems by Lisel Mueller (Louisiana State University Press)
Black Zodiac by Charles Wright (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Blizzard of One by Mark Strand (Alfred A. Knopf)
Repair by C.K. Williams (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Different Hours by Stephen Dunn (W.W. Norton & Company)
Practical Gods by Carl Dennis (Penguin Books)
Moy Sand and Gravel by Paul Muldoon (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Walking to Martha's Vineyard by Franz Wright (Alfred A. Knopf)
Delights & Shadows by Ted Kooser (Copper Canyon Press)
Late Wife by Claudia Emerson (Louisiana State University Press)

Do you see what is missing? No Alice Notley, No Robert Creeley, No Robert Duncan, No Harryette Mullin, No Rosemary Waltrop, No innovative poets;

Poetry Foundation picked Richard Wilbur for its Mediocre Poets Prize. He gets to join Kay Ryan, Ted Kooser, and Franz Wright in the perpetual 230 hitter hall of fame.

Catherine Daly mentioned on the Buffalo List that it is experimentos fault that all these mediocrities win these prizes so I have a proposal for all my small press brethern lets form a consortium of small innovative presses and nominate our poets for these prizes.

When are truly interesting and innovative poets going to win these prizes?

When is Charles Bernstein going to win a Poetry Foundation Award? You are going to tell me that Richard Wilbur is more important than Charles? poppycock!

Why didn't Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, Charles Olson, HD, or Alice Notley win the Pulitzer?

It is because mediocre unimaginative poets are running these shows.

When Ted Kooser or Christian Wiman are running these organizations you have to wonder if they have read any poetry since Black Mountain?

It is a farce that bland dishwater poetry is winning awards.

How was it that James Tate beat out Robert Creeley in 1992?

Fuck poetry

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Holy Week

Holy Week 2006

Included in this post is an open letter sent by Poets and People of Faith to the Prime Minister of Australia before a visit from the Chinese leader in April.

Recently on the Buffalo Poetics List it was said that Americans do not have the right to criticize China's human rights record. I assert however that we can criticize both America's Human Rights record and China's. In fact it is our duty to do so because we give so much of our money to China and we buy so much from them.

This Holy Week I am thinking about a Chinese Friend. I met him in Hong Kong in 2002 during a tradeshow; I was working for a company based in China. I was invited to a prayer service in his home in Dongguan. He is a Catholic like me but the group was mixed Catholic, Protestant. I saw him later in 2002 and I brought him gifts he asked for; a Rosary, a book of Bei Dao's poetry, and a Breviery in Chinese.

Then last year I tried to contact him and there was no contact. I heard from a colleague that he has been sent away.

During this Holy Week I offer prayers and thoughts for him and his family.

Open Letter to Prime Minister John Howard, all MPs and Senators of Australia
Mar 26, 2006

34 prominent Chinese Australians and residents have written this letter to Prime Minister John Howard and the elected members of the Australian Federal Government

To the Honourable John Howard and MPs and Senators of the Commonwealth of Australia,
It is reported that China's Premier Wen Jiabao will be visiting Australia in April. As Chinese Australians and residents, we write asking you to raise the issue of the extremely severe human rights abuses in China during your contacts and meetings with Mr. Wen.

In the last few years, China's human rights situation has deteriorated dramatically, to the point where it has gone beyond what people from western democratic countries such as Australia could even imagine.

China's state security agents, plain-clothes and uniformed police and thugs hired by the CCP authorities have been, on a large scale, resorting to mafia-style methods to carry out unprecedented and inhumane persecution against a vast cross-section of the Chinese society.

This includes but is not limited to: human rights lawyers, political dissidents, people with spiritual beliefs, journalists, people who appeal to higher authorities for justice, farmers dispossessed of their land, writers and scholars, social workers, and even their relatives and friends assumed guilty by associations.

The abuses include violent attacks in public, kidnapping, establishing illegal courts, long-term illegal imprisonment, torture, confinement and harassment, intimate around-the-clock surveillance, being sent to prison without the presence of lawyers and trial procedures, skillfully designed attempts to frame and assassinate, and even cutting off communication to the outside world and giving death ultimatums, etc.

The Chinese Communist authorities' persecution against dozens of human rights lawyers such as Mr. Gao Zhisheng and Mr. Guo Feixiong is especially inhumane. In China even lawyers are persecuted, let alone other people. China's senior leaders and the departments concerned have continually and blatantly ignored such persecutions as if they don't know it at all. The strict censorship forces the media to remain silent and gagged.

The Chinese Communist authorities' savage behaviour is speeding up the pace of transforming the society into a Mafia-like one; Laws in China are merely scrap paper;Terror and fear enshroud the whole of Mainland China.

The Chinese Regime's persecution against Falun Gong, which has lasted over six years, is even more appalling. It has been confirmed by evidence that 3052 Falun Gong practitioners have been persecuted to death.

Recently the Sujiatun concentration camp in Shenyang, China was revealed to the public. It is reported that over 6000 Falun Gong practitioners had been detained in the Sujiatun concentration camp, among which some 4000 have been victims of organ harvesting for transplant operations, and many while still alive, with their bodies cremated in a large on-site incinerator.

The Chinese senior leaders have remained unusually silent and have not made any comments or declared any further investigation. The fate of the 2000 Falun Gong practitioners left is uncertain. In addition, there are countless Falun Gong practitioners still experiencing torture and forced spiritual brainwashing in the jails and labour camps in China. Their lives are at immediate risk.

The values of democracy, freedom, and human rights are the foundation of the nation of Australia. We agree with the Australian Government that Australia should develop normal trade relations with China and also hold the foundation of Australia firmly. Furthermore, we believe that it is a short-sighted and suicidal action for a free and democratic country like Australia to export uranium to a Communist totalitarian regime with a growing military strength.

The Chinese Major-General Zhu Chenghu's crazy threat of planning to launch a nuclear world war is still echoing in our ears. A brutal and sly Communist regime can never be trusted, and the nuclear crisis created by the former Soviet Union in the period of the Cold War is still fresh in our memory.

We call upon the Honourable Prime Minister and all members of the parliament of Australia, for the sake of the integrity of humanity and conscience, to pay attention to the facts of severe human rights abuses taking place in China.

We hope you can
1. Urge the Chinese Government to stop immediately, the brutal persecution against human rights lawyers, dissidents, and people with beliefs and religion;
2. Urge the Chinese Government to release over 40,000 political dissidents, prisoners of conscience and innocent people with beliefs and religion in jails.
3. Urge the Chinese Government to allow immediately an independent and authentic international organisation to carry out a thorough investigation of the Sujiatun concentration camp case.
4. Reconsider Australia's uranium deals with Communist China in light of national security issues and handle cautiously and properly relations with the Communist totalitarian government of China in the fields of politics, economics, and military co-operation in the future, while seriously considering the responsibility of long-term interest of Australia.

With high respect.

Signed by
Mr. Chen Yonglin, Human Rights Activist, former Chinese Diplomat
Prof. Yuan Hongbing, Liberalist Jurist and Writer, Editor-in-Chief of the Fire of Liberty Website;
Mr. John Liang, Vice President of the Federation for a Democratic China;
Mr. Chin Jin, Chairman of the Federation for a Democratic China, Australia
Mr. Sun Liyong, Convener of Support Network for Persecuted Political and Religious Dissidents in China
Ms. Jennifer Zeng, Freelance Writer, Author of Witnessing History, "Ambassador for World Peace" of Australia Mme. Tao Leshun, Writer, Secretary-General of Australia Liberalist Writers Association
The following individuals have authorised to have their names included in the list after being fully informed about the content of this letter.
Mr. Hao Fengjun, former Chinese State Protection Police
Mr. Jun Yang, Human Rights Activist, former Australia Chinese Students Movement Leader
Dr. Xiaogang Zhang, Software Engineer, Democracy Dissident
Dr. Jing Jiang Zhong, Electronic Engineer, Democracy Dissident
Mr. Chen Zhe, Democracy Dissident
Dr. Lucy Zhao, Vice President of Free China (Farewell to the CCP)
Mr. Yuan Tiemin, Bachelor of Laws of University of Sydney, former Lecturer of China North-West Politics and Laws University.
Dr. Huang Ping, Poet
Mr. Li Baoqing, former Researcher and Doctoral Supervisor of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Mme. Liu Jinghang, former Assistant Researcher of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Mr. Lu Yi, President of the Melbourne Branch of the Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition
Mr. Zhang Weiqiang, Secretary-General of the Melbourne Branch of the Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition
Ms. Chen Ying, Deputy Secretary-General of the Melbourne Branch of the Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition
Mr. Ruan Jie, Deputy Secretary-General of the Alliance of the Chinese Democratic Parties
Mr. Sang Zhi, Poet
Ms. Lin Bin, Poet
Mr. Lin Xiaohui, Ph. D. Student at the University of Technology Sydney
Mr. Gao Yuan, Musician
Ms. Zhang Cuiying, Chinese Painting Artist
Mr. Liu Songfa, Geologist
Ms. Jiang Xili, Computer Engineer
Mr. Xia Jianguo, Photographer
Mr. Jiang Huijie, Human Rights Activist
Ms. Christina Xu, Executive Producer of the Sound of Hope International Radio (Australia)
Ms. Julian Hu, Representative of World Organisation to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong
Ms. Helen Hou, "Ambassador for World Peace" of Australia.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006



I uploaded the image above because it is a symbol of the Camuni of val Camonica in Italy. This is the symbol for Man (male).

The Camuni and Sabini are my ancestors.

I saw a disturbing report about this Book Manliness by some professor
and I began to think about the real men in my life

I am sure that I am not the only person who is uncomfortable with the state of Men in our society, we are violent, we are slipping behind women in every area of achievement and often we are violent and destructive.

But since I am a man I cannot escape my skin- When I think about men my thoughts often go to three men who formed my life and what they meant.

My Dad was your typical post-immigrant achiever who worked and worked and did not have an ounce of Alan Alda in him but he was always honest, clear and respectful. He was a Husband in the sense of husbandry- helping us grow or like a vintner pruning the vines. My grandfather for whom I am named, who arrived in New York with a trade and a back and built a life for himself. He lived by one simple life rule nothing was too good for people he loved or worked with him. and my Uncle from Italy who began WWII as a medic and when the Nazis occupied Italy in 1943 spent the next two years hiding. He was a mountain of a man and someone who will always be a man to me.

I realize that these gender conversations make good copy but I cannot help but believe that if more men were honorable our world would be better and if more boys knew men like my men they would be better.

It seems that women can gather and no one is afraid but when men do so there are problems either real or believed.

I hate that the word Patriarch has become pejorative.

Be it Abraham, Moses, Leonardo da Vinci, or Walt Whitman I like my Patriarch's. I love the matriarch's as well.

I hate that neo fascist yahoos like this guy who wrote Manliness can say stupidities.

But I have to say that Men and Women are different and in many ways it is a crisis of men that causes problems.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

People I Know......

I am working on a younger Chicago poets set of profiles for

I am so happy that Dan Beachy Quick, Arielle Greenberg, Simone Muench and others have recommended students. I was especially happy that Arielle gave me some names.

I did not get to talk to Arielle at
AWP but she is an important judge of talent.
and her daughter Willa is really an achievement
we saw her on the Airplane from Austin
very much a poet

&Now was a very good conference got to hang out with some luminaries and some new establishing poets.

Robert Archembeau is a such a good soul.. without guile he is impressive to me.

Got to hang out with Catherine Daly ,Garin Cycholl, Bill Allegrezza, Antonucci from Marquette, meIKAL AN, Steve Tomasula, Kass Fleischer, Joe Amato and the rest it was a nice two days.

I wish the Democrats would nominate an Asskicker. We need a leader like Lyndon Johnson who can kick the Republicans and make them like it.... maybe Joe Biden?

Met Maria Damon in person at &Now she is really something.... kind of the way I think Simone Weil must have been.

Friday, April 07, 2006

My Talk From &Now

Below is my talk from &Now
"Sources in South American Poetry: Pablo Neruda's Poetic of Indiginism the history of Latin America and Paulo Leminski's inner global Brazilian poetic"


The key poetic form for the Americas and American poets is the creation or history epic. If you look at some of the great books of poetry or poetic prose created in the Americas ;

Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman, Paterson, William Carlos Williams, Maximus by Charles Olson, Canto General by Pablo Neruda, Martin Fierro by Jose Hernandez or Catatau by Paulo Leminski all of these seminal works use history and poetry to create an epic that can be read as either a self-creation or a creation myth story.
Heroic and Epic Pasts

All American countries be they English, Spanish or Portuguese speaking are artificial creations. There are however some nations in the Americas that are less artificial for example Mexico, Peru ,Bolivia or Paraguay have strong indig. cultures and inig languages like Nahuatl, Quechua, Aymara or Tupi Guarani are spoken readily.

Both ethnically and linguistically there is a fusion of Spanish and Indig. In much of Spanish speaking Latin America the epic has been embodied by a sense of a shared American identity that is based in conquest and Spanish domination, and the desire to retrieve pre Colombian forms and ideas.

This is called Indiginismo. gave rise to visual artists like Diego Rivera, and most markedly Poets like Pablo Neruda and his Canto General that are in their epic forms searching to retrieve a past. This was embodied cinematically in the recent film the Motorcycle Diaries when the Che character and Walter Salles the director, juxtaposes contemporary Lima with the ‘purity’ of Machu Picchu which for Neruda is the apex of the true ‘american’ epic and heroic past. In the same
movie you see the contrast between the Andean world with its strong Inka influence and culture with the Euro latin culture of Argentina.

Pablo Neruda’s Epic Canto General, Paulo Leminski’s Catatau

Hispanic America, that is from Mexico to Argentina was based upon a shared myth of conquest and conversion. The Spanish built the same city from Santa Fe, in what is now New Mexico to Ushuaia in what is today Argentina based around the Church, the Prefecture and the Spanish language and a set history and racial division. Fusion occurred in Spanish America but large scale immigration did not except for Argentina, Chile and Uruguay and then not until the 19th century.

This is not to say that Mexico, Peru or Chile’s poets were not cosmopolitan what is does say is that Neruda for example begins with a base firmly placed in a sense of conquest and a respect for a Pre Columbian past while in Brazil and the United States an imported cosmopolitanism and exceptionalism colors the poetic project.

Neruda is firmly placed in the Spanish and Latin American tradition of poetics. He owes as much to Cervantes as to the Mapuches or Machu Picchu but he chose to create an epic based in a choice for the inig. past of the Americas. He uses Machu Picchu the Liberators San Martin and Bolivar and the texture and textile of Latin American Mestijae to create a history in poetry using sources that are varied. This creation in some ways is artificial since the groups that he fuses together in Canto General had little or no contact with one another. The Indian slaves of Potosi or the musing of Father Bartolome De Las Casas or the focus on the Mapuches of Chile or Walt Whitman are an artificial construct to show the fact that the land and its shared history are central to his poetic project.

Canto General begins with a sense of loss. he starts with the land with the flowers the minerals the history of the continent and then begins

“ a las tierras sin nombres y sin nombres y sin numeros
bajaba el viento desde otros dominios
traia la lluvia hilos celestes
y el dios de los altares impregnados
devolvia las flores y las vidas”

en la fertilidad crecia el tiempo”

“to the lands without names and without names and numbers
below the wind of other dominions
brings the rain below blue skys
and the gods of the impregnable altars
return the flowers and the lives

in the fertile grows time”

Neruda’s poetry based in a sense of indiginismo has continued to be an important movement in Latin America outside of Brazil for the past 25 years. Mexican poet Coral Bracho, Argentine Porteno Poets Nestor Perlonger, Eduardo Espina, Tulio Mora, Nicaraguan poet Ernesto Cardenal and many others continue to use older, neo baroque lyric forms and to use their work with history and indiginismio. These ‘conservative’ forms remain central sources for many American poets writing in Spanish.

The sense of indiginism continues as well in Music and visual art, So you have music groups like the many Andean and other Indig. groups that continue to use ources and a unique way of creating poetry in a region of the world where poetry has not lost its importance as an artform.

BRAZIL Immigrant Nations and Cosmopolitanisms

Juxtaposed to the idea of America as a conquered place where we need to reclaim our indig. past are immigrant nations. These nations and their poetic projects do not harken back to pre Colombian forms or to epics based in conquest and retrieval of a past. These nations, broadly are creating epics of creation and conquest.

Brazil, and the United States were formed poetically and politically by similar forces, Slavery, Massive European Immigration and Genocide of their
inidg. populations.

Iconic figures like Brazil’s Bandirantes or the freedom Fighter Tiradentes or our Mountain Men or Pioneer’s in their prairie schooners are formed by newness, cultural creation on the positive side and on the negative side genocide and slavery.

The result of this basis for a poetic is an importation of a cosmopolitanism that is unique to this experience of culture. Just think about Whitman praising the immigrant in New York for example. this type of literature is unique to these sources and this experience.

This hybrid of Land and Immigration is well embodied in the Brazilian poet Paulo Leminski who was the son of a Polish immigrant father and an Afro Brazilian mother, who spoke Portuguese, English, German, Polish, and Italian and who lived in what is perhaps the most diverse city of its size in South America, Curitiba which has over 100 nationalities included in its phone directory.

Brazil’s formation effects Leminski’s and other Brazilian poets projects and especially his poetic descendants writing today. The Mixture of races and cultures was tacitly encouraged in Brazil. Of course did not make the poverty or racism any less vile but it was a very different history.

An example in the Brazilian city of Ouro Preto, a center of Gold mining in Minas Gerais in 1670 over 94% of the population was of mixed African. European and Indig. blood and regularly grandees adopted their mixed race children as was the case with Brazil’s greatest pre-independence artist Alejadinho who created some of the greatest sculptures in the history of the western hemisphere.

This continues to this day especially in music where you have Italian, Portuguese, German and African music fusing to form Samba, Sampa and other Brazilian forms.

Leminski’s Poetic as a Contrast to Neruda’s

In contrast to Neruda and Indiginism; Machu Picchu for Brazilians is a ruin like the Coloseum or the Parthenon to be admired but not to be yearned for.

While many Latin American writers writing in Spanish look to indiginism as a lodestar Brazil has a very different focus. In the 1950’s a strong European Avant Garde influence filled Brazil’s poetry and visual art. The exhibition of Swiss artist Max Bill for example proved very influential to the growth of Brazilian Concrete poetry. Brazilian visual art rather than looking toward a past became geometric and installation driven. Brazilian painting, poetry and sculpture was developing a Postmodern sense at the same time that other cultures were doing the same and this led to a sense of openness and cosmopolitanism that is not found in many places.

Leminski in his novel Catatau has at its center a voyage of the French philosopher Rene Descartes to Brazil during the Dutch invasion of the 17th Century it uses text and ideas that are always in dialogue with the outside with the great exterior world. he jumps from idea to idea creating a deep inner sense and internal creation. Leminski fuses European senses with Afro Brazilian and immigrant perceptions and then uses language to create a series of short jarring sections that include eroticism and contrast well with the music of Brazil. This can be seen throughout the work.

In his poetry as well. Unlike Neruda, Leminski is not using an established tradition of lyric to illustrate his epic but has placed himself squarely in the world of Joyce, Pound, French Avant Garde Writing and alike to create something that is ‘new’ and requires more from the reader. Leminski also uses worldplay.
To use musical reference the singer Gilberto Gil, a follower of Leminski constantly creates songs where wordplay is central to the work so for example he creates song about A REDE regarding the internet but then the word REDE also means hammock and he plays between the two to satire and contrast between a Brazilian sense and a world sense, Leminski does the same thing in Catatau and this is a unique Brazilian way of creating new ness in poetry and music.

Leminski is a popular figure and unlike Neruda he is not a diplomat or a frequenter of Capri or elite salons he works in advertising and who lives in a house with his wife and spends his weekends drinking and carousing.

Leminski is concerned always with a dialogue with the outside and with his fusion culture so his friends like Regis Bonvicino, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil are in dialogue with him and his sense of history subsumes the facts of their art and formation.

At least two of Leminiski’s poems have been turned into pop songs and in Brazil Popular music and poetry and poets are very closely connected.

here is an example of a poem from Leminski that originated in a letter to a poetic friend

Vontade de comer?
Restaurante Apendecite?
o restaurante sem imaginacao

Restaurante Apendecite
so serve arroiz e fejiao

Desire to eat?
Apedecitis Restaurant?
or Restaurant without imagination

Apendix Restaurant
only serves rice and beans

Throughout the entire book Catatau Leminski creates an epic of creation but it is an internal creation. Leminski realizes that for his culture the creation is self creation .Brazil and by inference Leminski does not focus on an imagined or idealized past.

He instead looks to fusion as do Brazilian musicians. If you listen for example to Leminski’s dear friend and collaborator Caetano Veloso the singer you will hear the fusion of African, European and Indig. that is uniquely Brazilian and does not have idealized sense of Canto General while it may share its politics.

Brazilian Avant Garde Writing Today

As we have discussed in Spanish Speaking Latin America there is still a strong sense of Neruda’s Inidigism. Poets from throughout the region continue to draw on this well of history and sources to create new works. In Brazil however even Indig. poets do not place themselves in an indiginism tradition. I just finished translating a poem for Aufgabe by the Brazilian Guarani poet Sergio Medeiros. This work will appear in the issue and it is called Catarata and is based in his personal experience of growing up in the shadow of Brazil;s Iguazu falls.

The Absurd Paranaeses
Sérgio Medeiros*(Trans Raymond Bianchi)
// fine rain a disequilibrated wind
what a wind
// leaves that balance
on the vase/// and leaps of em-
// a button
the helix
open air
// crepuscule,
Two Dry Wings

E, F, G
// the liquid
whirling/ is
sucking a drink
(The foot in the sand/
an insect hueless
beats his wings/sending:
//Rings over the rocks
the wall/ didgets

Saturday, April 01, 2006

My day with Catherine Daly

Sometimes things just fit- Caffe and Italia, Picanha and Brazil, Lago Titikaka and Cold Wind and sometimes they do not.

Catherine Daly is in town this week and yesterday we got to hang out- what a pleasure. Many poet's become boring when you move off the page Catherine is not one of these people. Of course she lives in glamorous Los Angeles, I live in meaty Chicago.

We of course ate at one of our snobby Chicago haute places, AL's #1Beef. The menu is Chicago, Italian Beef, wet and slow roasted with nice hot peppers, or a combo which is Italian Beef and a Sausage (Say it people SAAHSAGE) .

Catherine lives in LA but she is one of us- she grew up in Decatur but her family is Chicago Polish which is as meaty Chicago as you can get.

We spent time in Chicago's new 1000 Park- watching people. The best thing about Chicago is that everyone is so unpretentious and frankly Fat. As a 350 pounder myself it is kind of like being another hippo in the pond or another elephant on the Serengeti.

After loading up on Beef (Dont Tell the POPE since it was Friday) and speaking about our favorite super hero, Padre Pio

Chicago's favorite side dishes, Slice of Cheese, Cheese Sauce, Hot Peppers

we ventured to meet that other superhero

Garin Cycholl.

Who is a quiet comic and since garin consented to go to the fights with me in Cicero he gets a pass and can do pretty much what he wants. garin did Manuscript therapy for me so I owe him.

Cat was reading Friday night but I was too tired to go back out---