05 March 2007

DAILY SONNETS, by Laynie Browne, & Counterpath Press, & a small step return to blogging

I've found out, not only from my recent behavior, but from that of others, that once you step out of blogging very regularly, it's not that easy to get back. But I'm trying.

Just received:
three terrific looking books from Counterpath Press in Denver, Colorado, whose publishers are Julie Carr and Tim Roberts. Counterpath is a "new publisher of innovative and experimental poetry, fiction, and drama, as well as cultural criticism, scholarly work, philosophy, and theory." They have an ambitious program to publish full-length books, chapbooks, a yearly review, and to initiate conceptual and other sorts of projects. Based on three of their first books, it looks to me like a press to be welcomed, a press that is much needed.

the books:
Daily Sonnets, by Laynie Browne (poetry)
The Cry at Zero: Selected Prose, by Andrew Joron
The Stripping Point, by Brian Henry (poetry)

My path back to blogging begins with writing about one book each week, and I want to begin with one of the Counterpoint books, Laynie Brown's Daily Sonnets. Daily in the sense that they are, yes, daily, but also in the sense that "person" like day is a divided concept, within time, finding time, inventing time. Yet the divided person in Laynie Brown is multiple, i.e. parent, two small children (collaborators at times), and more, as she writes in an afterword, "And finally after many years of controlled circumstances, the allowing in of all voices, all time." Acts of collaboration "with the daily news, with other poets, with the bumpiness of days passing," and as the days pass, time is unhinged and "anyone or thing can speak: the dead, the imagined, the dictionary, the found." Here then Browne seems to allow the sonnets, to enter them or have them enter her. This is extremely personal work, but not necessarily in a psychological way, as we may be used to thinking of "the personal."

So we find a poem like "36,"
From nothing is born nothing
This weeping day of possums
Crossing the night without
Pretense to homes
If you follow the boy with the curls
He will initiate you into his myth
Of the hermit people from which
We all evolved
If you follow his brother you
Walk in pre-mythic speech
Uttered with bodily syntax
Utterly trusting galloping
They follow the possum with no distance from beauty
Calling the landlord a game of broken garages
where the poem moves in and out of childmind, childworld, yet knowing there is "weeping" here, and that such mind is pre-myth, it is the world of the semiotic perhaps, the world of free associations without need for gathering meanings and conclusions. It is the world of negative capability, but without even the need to define negative capability. There is no distance from beauty here, or from anything.

We find also a "Love Sonnet to Light," (21)
Here are the questions I did not ask
And why I did not ask them
Do you read my thoughts
Continually as a practice
Or more spasmodically
As the line begins to waver
Do you speak to clarify
My aspiration
If I look down at the page
Will I remain unseen
Yet magically present like the seeker
Who is certain you speak
to him privately
As I speak to you
Here the movement of thinking is parallel, or perhaps the same, as the movement of line and eye and speech. It is not quite spontaneity, although it includes that. It is almost more like sheer discovery of the poem as it occurs, "spasmodically" perhaps, though beautifully, and without need for knowledge.

I am still finding my way through this book, but I love it already. It is quite possibly the purest poetry I have read in ages, by which I mean that it really is poetry, happening on the page, as close to unaware of itself as I can imagine a poet ever approaching.

For more information about Counterpath Press see their web site, where books can be ordered. You can also find their books at Small Press Distribution.