And the invention of punctuation, from an edition of Pietro Bembo’s “De Aetna” (“Of Etna”). Hasn’t anybody been bold enough in her tongue over the past half-millennium to invent breakages like the semicolon as Aldus & Griffo did? In any case out in Belgrade they’re inventing new saints to go alongside new cathedrals, tender, macaronic. [...]
The measured, fatigued ol Ez sez, syllables, as they’d say in Italian, to Pier Paolo Pasolini’s legible amusement & faint stupefaction: “Lei dice nazioni industrializzate e quindi culturalmente avanzate. È questo quindi che non mi va. Difficile per me rispondere a questa sola domanda perché non è solamente in Italia industrializzata dove ci sono nuovamente [...]
And a picture of shifting into impatience, from imperial, now national, projection to wily individual fi in the face of entropy. “But when he came to the Forum of Trajan, a creation which in my view has no like under the cope of heaven and which even the gods themselves must agree to admire, [Constantius [...]
“Why wasn’t he?” asks Mr. Walcott when I’m supposed to be interviewing him. “Too chatty, too bloody discursive, in the presence of oranges.” I can’t think of any lines to cite, nervous. Street details. “He was beautiful.” Two remotenesses colliding, the optimism of free 50s poets and painters in which one could fall to a [...]
The fine art of orecchiette-rolling and -inverting as demonstrated by Gio’s acquainted hands, and attendant fantasies of Canadian peace armies inspired in one boy’s dissident shaping of gnocchi: “pasta always leads to politics,” says Miles—apparently also to psychology, and to art.
As planes and trams move one through shifting tablesettings of alliances, in advance of a celebrated guest of the state cancelling flights, the street glimpsed in transit reliable as ever in rendering the difference in any e pluribus unum eloquent.
As defined against the fascist ossario, bone chamber for the martyrs of the Risorgimento glorified by the wannabe-Byzantine religion of the modern state (“veglia con voi l’angelo della patria”): “CUSTODI DELLE GLORIE PATERNE” “CUSTODIANS OF PATERNAL GLORIES” versus three animate kin.
On Montorio, or the Mount of Gold grazed to dust for pilgrims, above the martyrium of Peter, founder of the mortal church, demipenitent, certainly costal: translation as the human replacement for divine atonement.
And being asked to answer, amidst collaborative conversation with Dubravka Djuric, for “American poetry,” against the charge that it wants to impose and disperse breakage of beauty, make a mess: at the Belgrade Cultural Center, listening by turns appreciative and curious, and in some corner of the theater, residually suspicious, mindful of the NATO bombings. [...]
As pavement, and wheelbarrow and plastic hoods. How often is it in the 21st century that you walk into a cathedral as active construction site? The pilgrims to the Temple of Saint Sava (“gathering: but it’s so much more than gathering: organic”)—citizens who aren’t annoyed by this massive occupation of the National Library plaza—are satisfied [...]
For Belgrade Cultural Center’s World Poetry Day Manifestation—UNESCO’s refreshing counterpoint to National Poetry Month— after a noon tram ride circling the city with live poetic soundtrack for unsuspecting commuters, Stanka Hrastelj of Slovenia reads behind a rack where poems have infiltrated merchandise— in our experiment which yields over the course of an hour the unstupefying [...]
In tandem with transfers of power and political fads, trading religious overtones in favor of interwar French alliance or communist and current nationalist gropings toward stability: a now-Serbian avenue’s changing names, alphabets, and purposes as the backdrop to more wildly changeful bids for attention 7 times over the past 139 years: is it the street [...]
At the American Academy in Rome, this reader’s latecoming appreciation for a poet arriving to us largely through translation, now discussed in the mouths of his friends, in various vernaculars. Derek Walcott’s appreciation, commuovente, for the confirmed passion and quiet combined of these collective readings across Russian, English and Italian: “This unison would not have [...]
In the handling of contemporary chiseler S. Verity, “one of the last in this strange trade, and that’s fine by me”: stone for an enclosing molding from Padova via England to Rome become palimpsest serving to remember the numbers of Fabio and others, as the rustic italics of Aldus serve to fit more names into [...]
Joe Milutis’s question: see the interview here for my response. [Image courtesy of Jeremy Mende's Anxious Futurism.] Milutis: Given this poetry requires a lot of research, is there a sense of regret that such a signature is not enough, and that your filtration process leaves out material that could be used to educate or elucidate? [...]
And the claim to the spoils of a remote culture randomly assigned to the present by way of geographical coordinates: sesquicentennial of an Italy far from seamlessly united makes national lollipop of Trajan’s column of 113, remembering distant triumph in the Dacian wars.
Which make for a welcome to late Republican Rome, circa 50-20 BC, on the part of proud Marcus Vergilius Eurysaces the baker, wanting to be remembered at the crossroads of Praenestinan and Labicana Ways, where 5 aqueducts met—amazingly accommodated despite the construction of Porta Maggiore by Emperor Claudius in 52. The signs of mass production—holes [...]
The first response (composed in January) in an episodic interview with Joe Milutis about the “poetics of enormity” as laid out in a talk in verse I gave at the Penn-Columbia “Rethinking Poetics” conference last June (available for download here) is up. I wrote the piece with the demands of the Gulf oil spill and [...]
General strike announcement for the 11th of March, 2011:
Why the idea of order, like the idea of progress, is just and tragically that: an idea, abundant in keener sounds, in rage, and more than occasionally in futility. She sang beyond the genius of the sea. The water never formed to mind or voice, Like a body wholly body, fluttering Its empty sleeves; and [...]
Just as climate change had become less “hot” in the news cycle, as poet/journalist Jules Boykoff points out, the question of the relation between global warming and seismic activity rerears its head, demanding to be addressed as the fossil-fuel club gets ready to lambast anyone suggesting we’ve tipped any balance whatever.
What it means for the rhythm of every season to have been permanently reprogrammed by self-estranging years in a city on the opposite end of the earth—having been looking at plum blossoms popping that day because of it—I’m writing this out of step with the actual, having been paralyzed on the 11th—and for the trauma [...]
white cherries, and shadows write with better clarity than any ii at a certain hour over the Aurelian wall—to emerge from the rustic house & let them do it, as Ruskin did, casting agency with bliss into light unelectric.
& let the awake cling to every chill in this becoming-autumn-quick (Japanese-style) of a languid dream.