Monday, April 26, 2010

New Yinzer Reading, 4/21/10

Above are two photos from The New Yinzer reading I participated in last Wednesday, April 21st. The photos were taken and are posted here with the kind permission of novelist/poet Karen Lillis. The first photo captures me reciting my first poem, the second reading a poem by Walt Whitman, as relevant as this very moment, entitled "To You."

To You

Whoever you are, I fear you are walking the walks of dreams,
I fear these supposed realities are to melt from under your feet and hands,
Even now your features, joys, speech, house, trade, manners,
troubles, follies, costume, crimes, dissipate away from you,
Your true soul and body appear before me.
They stand forth out of affairs, out of commerce, shops, work,
farms, clothes, the house, buying, selling, eating, drinking,
suffering, dying.

Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you, that you be my poem,
I whisper with my lips close to your ear.
I have loved many women and men, but I love none better than you.

O I have been dilatory and dumb,
I should have made my way straight to you long ago,
I should have blabb'd nothing but you, I should have chanted nothing
but you.

I will leave all and come and make the hymns of you,
None has understood you, but I understand you,
None has done justice to you, you have not done justice to yourself,
None but has found you imperfect, I only find no imperfection in you,
None but would subordinate you, I only am he who will never consent to subordinate you,
I only am he who places over you no master, owner, better, God,
beyond what waits intrinsically in yourself.

Painters have painted their swarming groups and the centre-figure of all,
From the head of the centre-figure spreading a nimbus of gold-color'd light,
But I paint myriads of heads, but paint no head without its nimbus
of gold-color'd light,
From my hand from the brain of every man and woman it streams,
effulgently flowing forever.

O I could sing such grandeurs and glories about you!
You have not known what you are, you have slumber'd upon yourself all your life,
Your eyelids have been the same as closed most of the time,
What you have done returns already in mockeries,
(Your thrift, knowledge, prayers, if they do not return in
mockeries, what is their return?)

The mockeries are not you,
Underneath them and within them I see you lurk,
I pursue you where none else has pursued you,
Silence, the desk, the flippant expression, the night, the
accustom'd routine, if these conceal you from others or from
yourself, they do not conceal you from me,
The shaved face, the unsteady eye, the impure complexion, if these
balk others they do not balk me,
The pert apparel, the deform'd attitude, drunkenness, greed,
premature death, all these I part aside.

There is no endowment in man or woman that is not tallied in you,
There is no virtue, no beauty in man or woman, but as good is in you,
No pluck, no endurance in others, but as good is in you,
No pleasure waiting for others, but an equal pleasure waits for you.

As for me, I give nothing to any one except I give the like carefully
to you,
I sing the songs of the glory of none, not God, sooner than I sing
the songs of the glory of you.

Whoever you are! claim your own at any hazard!
These shows of the East and West are tame compared to you,
These immense meadows, these interminable rivers, you are immense and interminable as they,
These furies, elements, storms, motions of Nature, throes of apparent
dissolution, you are he or she who is master or mistress over them,
Master or mistress in your own right over Nature, elements, pain,
passion, dissolution.

The hopples fall from your ankles, you find an unfailing sufficiency,
Old or young, male or female, rude, low, rejected by the rest,
whatever you are promulges itself,
Through birth, life, death, burial, the means are provided, nothing
is scanted,
Through angers, losses, ambition, ignorance, ennui, what you are
picks its way.

Walt Whitman

It was my third reading in a year, an experience I hadn't had in over 20. It was the first reading that I didn't do material by other poets from Lilliput Review and it was instructive. I learned I can read poems that were older than many of the folks attending and that I can read poems I'd written the week before. Homing in on what poems work or, if you will, are "presentable" live, versus good poems on the page that land with a thud in performance, has been part of a learning process.

Reciting haiku, I've learned, takes nerves of steel. There is so little cover to hide behind.

There were lots of solid readers on the bill; the evening, however, was dominated by the local poet, M. Callen who read last. I read first and, trust me, I was glad to have a comfortable distance between us. Not that I wouldn't enjoy basking in her immense talent, no, it was simply being wary of being blinded by the formidable light.

I've read with Callen once before and, to put it succinctly with a touch of resonance, it is a revelation.

A special thanks to Kris and Savannah of The New Yinzer and Modern Formations Gallery for hosting the event.

Morning glory opens
to anything,
even you.

the moonflowers
strike it rich!
the stars
translated by David G. Lanoue


PS Check out 100's of poems in the Lilliput archive.


Charles Gramlich said...

Nice to put a face to the blog. You don't look exactly as I imagined you, but then I doubt any of us ever do!

Anonymous said...

Don, Your little poem,

Morning glory opens
to anything,
even you.

is mighty beautiful.


Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Hey, Charles, did you think I was older???

Donna, thanks for the kind words - I don't usually post my own work but I thought this time I could make an exception.

Robyn said...

I am very glad that you did post your own work Don. Now that you have, perhaps you will do it more often.


Jesus Crisis said...

Very cool!

We'd love to have you read in Cleveland sometime, if you're interested. We can provide a place to lay your head and good food to eat. Would be good to meet you....

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Hey, J, thanks very much for the invite. I believe I'll take you up on that sometime. Laurie and I love Cleveland, we were up for a long weekend last year and had a great time.

Should have a book coming out sometime soon - maybe we could coordinate something after that.