Email me at jmayhew at ku dot edu
"The very existence of poetry should make us laugh. What is it all about? What is it for?"
“El subtítulo ‘Modelo para armar’ podría llevar a creer que las
diferentes partes del relato, separadas por blancos, se proponen como piezas permutables.”
This is one of those lines that is permanently in my memory. Title of Malcolm Lowry's collected poems."Dark as the grave wherein my friend is laid"
Straight outta Rothenberg:"a heightened sense of the emotional contours of objects (their dark qualities, or shadows)"
Both of these books reference winter, at least in the titles. Do any deep image poets have books centered around spring or summer? (I'm wondering what THE deep image word would be in those volumes.)
My mistake. Went to check out the Lowry title - turns out it's not his collected poems, but an early novel. An embryonic version of Under the Volcano.
Also many variations on the phrase/theme, 'darkness that is good', so as to make clear they're not dealing in darkness that is bad. In one poem, James Wright is even 'waiting for dark'. Another aludes to 'A red shadow of steel mills', which may suggest a communist scare.
Winter darkness -- who knew that Deep Image poetry was straight out of . . . Frost ?!? (What a perfect name!)These woods ARE lovely, dark, and deep.
A LITTLE BOY LOSTby Jerome RothenbergThey took me from the white sun and theyleft me in the black sun, leftme to sleep among long rows of overcoats:I was a city boy lost in the country, awound in my hand was all I knew about willowsCan you understand, do you hear the widesound of the wind against the cow’sside, and the crickets that run down my sleeve, crickets full of the night, withbodies like little black suns? try as I willthere is only this in my heart, this cry:They took me from the white sun, and theyleft me in the black sun, and Ihave no way of turning now, no door.POEM OF THE FORGOTTENBy John HainesI came to this place,a young man green and lonely.Well quit of the world,I framed a house of moss and timber,called it a home,and sat in the warm eveningssinging to myself as a man singswhen he knows there is no one to hear.I made my bed under the shadowof leaves, and awokein the first snow of autumn,filled with silence.I’m enjoying your posts on the deep image poets. It was reading the Beats and some of the other avant poets like Creeley and Rothenberg in my late teens that sparked my initial interest in poetry. But it was reading the deep image poets like James Wright and Haines in my early 20s that really got me hooked -- though my taste have drifted back to the aesthetic that grew out the Black Mountain poets, the New York School, and other New American poets (though in those early formative stages I didn’t perceive as much difference in the two strains as I do now – maybe too much cultural baggage has crept into my reading habits). I haven’t read much Rothenberg or Haines in a long time, so I pulled them off the shelf and found a couple of poems written at roughly the same time. The Rothenberg is from “Poems For The Game Of Silence,” and apparently written around 1960 and the Haines is from “Winter News,” which was published in 1966. Though hardly the best poem by either poet, both roughly deal with the same theme, feeling lost, and on the surface use fairly simple language (and interestingly both have suggestions of “darkness,” the “black sun” in Rothenberg and “under the shadow in Haines”). On first reading, I find myself liking both poems. But after additional readings I find the Rothenberg more interesting both musically, in the images it uses, and in the use of language and the line. The Haines poem highlights the limits of the plain spoken school of the dark imagists (though that awkward line “Well quit of the world” seems to portray the influence of earlier formalists). In the context of the 50s and 60s, Haines approach was more revolutionary than it comes across now, but it leaves little for a second generation to explore (Ted Kooser always seemed to me a second-rate James Wright wanna-be), which is why I lost interest in those poets (though I still enjoy James Wright). On the other hand, the Rothenberg with its exploration of the musicality and materiality of the language leaves open many other aesthetic directions and techniques to explore, which is one reason I enjoy the poetry coming from that tradition.
Good comment... I was just reading that poem today (the Haines). Well quit of the world was actually the only phrase that showed some verbal invention, something to set off against the "plain spoken" tone.
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