Sunday, December 16, 2012

Some Spiritual Letters: By David Miller


From Conrad DiDiodato's blog:

Any intersections with the spiritual poetics of Frank Samperi today are rare as they are beautifully insightful: I purposely seek and celebrate them and not because of my own scholarly interests in the person I consider contemporary America's greatest poet-mystic. Samperi's time has come. As relatively brief and largely uneventful as Samperi's life was, he was bound to attract a few of the best spiritual 'lights': Robert Kelly, Robert Lax, John Levy and David Miller. It was particularly with the young poet from Australia, David Miller, that Samperi confessed to feeling a particularly deep kinship. Miller was not just an admirer but defender of perhaps the one American poet whom the Objectivists would have had most reason to fear (if, of course, he'd had the hearing he'd deserved). The young Miller seemed to have understood that very well.
Read more......

Monday, November 12, 2012

Clayton Eshleman

BlazeVOX Press has recently published a book-length 40 page poem of mine, The Jointure, and has asked me to send out to you the page with information on the book at the press.

“What does it mean to see with the eyes of the soul?” In The Jointure, Clayton Eshleman offers an answer to this question in language of visionary symbolic consciousness. Intimate and expansive, psychological and anthropological data germinates this fecundating exploration and extrapolation of inner wilderness and the essence of imagination. Paleolithic, Bronze Age, Maya, Aztec, and Asmat myths and images compact Xochipilli and Coatlicue with Bud Powell, Gilgamesh, and concrete memories of an Indianapolis upbringing and an American life. In The Jointure, “memory is fracture” – the depths of horror enshroud the horror of depths – but imagination is revealed as the “keelson of paradise.” Transcultural, transhistorical and contemporary, personal and political, this is a poetry of encounter and recognition unlike any other being written by an American today. As inclusive as this writing is, it is also absolutely singular.

 http/:www.blazevox.org/index.php/shop/superstars/the-jointure-by-clayton-eshleman-307

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Essay by Clayton Eshleman translated by Mario Dominguez Parra



CLAYTON ESHLEMAN
«¿Qué hay de estadounidense
en la poesía estadounidense?»

[Respuesta a un cuestionario propuesto
por la Poetry Society of America]

Traducción y notas: Mario Domínguez Parra


1.      Nuestra amplificación del panóptico de Walt Whitman (frenología, egiptología, ópera, hinduismo, el poeta como reportero y místico, amoroso y pegajoso, cultivado y anárquico) y su «camino abierto»: la democratización de la persona entera, la liberación de cualquier servilismo involuntario por parte del impulso y del instinto, un nuevo verso de respiración basada en compases vernáculos y naturales. Seguimos operando según la orden de Whitman.
  1. Nuestra invención de la otredad histórica y prehistórica: para Ezra Pound: la Antigua China; para H.D.: la Grecia Clásica; para Charles Olson: los mayas y Sumeria; para Gary Snyder: la Antigua India y el Antiguo Japón; para Judy Grahn: las meta-formas de la menarquia; para mí: el Alto Paleolítico.
  2. Nuestra visión de la traducción como parte integral de la obra del poeta. Ejemplos: Cathay, de Pound; Catulo, de Louis Zukofsky (1); las antologías de poesía china y japonesa de Kenneth Rexroth; El Cid y los trovadores provenzales de Paul Blackburn; Basho, Montale y Char, de Cid Corman; Molière, de Richard Wilbur; Baudelaire, de Richard Howard; Jabès, de Rosmarie Waldrop; Lorca (2) (y sus antologías internacionales (3)), de Jerome Rothenberg;  mis Vallejo, Césaire y Artaud; Breton, de Bill Zavatsky; Cendrars y Apollinaire, de Ron Padgett; Dragomoshchenko, de Lyn Hejinian; Dante, de Robert Pinsky; etc (4).
  3. Nuestra incorporación a las texturas del poema de múltiples niveles de lenguaje—lo arcaico, el «idioma estadounidense», lo erudito, lo vulgar, lo científico—junto con textos sonoros, sub-lenguajes y la excentricidad tipográfica. Una sensación de incesante entusiasmo, de decir todo, de que todas las palabras pueden entrar en juego.  
  4. Nuestra incorporación de lo no poético y lo popular—el reportaje, la historia, los sueños, las canciones, las visiones, el libreto, el canto, el azar, los cómics, las transcripciones jurídicas, la propaganda de agitación—como parte de un «grandioso collage» en curso, internacional. Todo es material.
  5. Nuestra creencia en que la poesía puede institucionalizarse y financiarse—un currículum para una licenciatura en escritura creativa, cátedras para poetas, adquisiciones de archivos, apoyo por medio de donaciones y fundaciones—y permanecer auténtica.
  6. Nuestro compromiso con una poesía radical, de investigación, que sea salvaje, incompleta, díscola, ineluctablemente en proceso; con la poesía como intervención en la cultura contra formas estáticas de conocimiento, contra concepciones adiestradas y enunciados tradicionales.
  7. Nuestro compromiso con una poesía conservadora, unívoca, episódica, que emplee un vocabulario restringido, una sintaxis de manual de gramática y formas del verso tradicional inglés; con el mundo representado como es; con una poesía de «aislamiento íntimo, compartido».  
  8. Nuestra visión de que la poesía debe ser política (a pesar del hecho de que nadie en Estados Unidos se tome en serio al poeta en el plano político) y enfrentarse al racismo, al imperialismo, al desastre ecológico y a la guerra como parte de las responsabilidades sociales del poeta.
  9. Nuestra visión de que la única poesía genuina es apolítica, sublime, victimizada por una atraso crónico y, así, es como mucho un palimpsesto revisionista de la poesía precedente; desconfianza del acontecimiento local y específico; una creencia en que sólo la poesía monumentalmente despojada de contexto puede ser grande.
   
    Casi toda la actual poesía estadounidense seriamente escrita se apoya en aspectos variantes de las polaridades propuestas en los puntos 7, 8, 9 y 10. Escribir poesía es más complejamente adverso que en el pasado. Las dicotomías dionisíaco/apolíneo, tradicional/experimental, personal/público, que han hecho que los poetas se enfrenten entre ellos (y a sí mismos), se han esparcido hacia un tipo de archipiélago de emplazamientos.
    Una razón por la que los poetas estadounidenses han establecido contacto con poesías extranjeras y con «otras» sociedades en busca de materiales y operaciones es porque muchos de nosotros sentimos que no podemos evitar escribir una poesía estadounidense, a pesar de nuestras preocupaciones temáticas. Estamos tan saturados por los medios y la comodidad, tan inundados por lo que podría considerarse un imperialista escape interior que, a pesar de lo que pensamos, somos andantes pirámides atestadas de espanto por el bombardeo aéreo de cada día.   

***

Para hablar por un instante de manera internacional: la poesía siempre está yendo hacia ninguna parte y, en un sentido, hacia el infierno—en otro, no hacia el infierno, sino hacia el inframundo, hacia el subconsciente precristiano. La poesía es fundamentalmente pagana y politeísta, y creará un espacio asimilativo a partir de la profundidad. Cualquiera podría decir que una dirección perpetua de la poesía es su manera de dotar de alma a los acontecimientos, de buscar la dualidad en el acontecimiento y el significado oculto o contradictorio del acontecimiento. Cada época produce algunos artistas que, en su búsqueda de la autenticidad, consiguen su propia verdad creando su propia visión de las cosas. Semejantes artistas nunca se definen por movimientos adscritos a «-ismos»—su obra puede definir o convertirse en el mascarón de proa de un «-ismo», pero aun así nunca pertenecen al «-ismo» que podría considerarse su creación.
    Los poetas originales son campistas en el nuevo páramo tecnológico y en la periferia de los centros del poder social y político. No importa lo que digas—o importa sólo a unos pocos. Aquí me refiero, por supuesto, al llamado «mundo libre». En China y en Irak, por ejemplo, la situación del «mundo libre» está vuelta del revés: tu vida depende de lo que digas o de lo que no digas.
    Como la alquimia, la poesía que me importa se enfrenta a la negritud en el corazón del hombre y busca transformarla en un producto que intente hacerse responsable de todo lo que un poeta sabe sobre sí mismo y sobre su mundo.

En el cambio de siglo, la poesía estadounidense, con las convincentes excepciones de Whitman y Emily Dickinson, todavía estaba llena de decoro victoriano y era una poesía del buen gusto, sobre temas extremadamente restringidos, escrita casi exclusivamente por hombres blancos. Mientras nos aproximamos al milenio, esta imagen ha cambiado radicalmente: escrita por anglosajones, asiáticos, chicanos, así como también por hombres y mujeres blancos heterosexuales y homosexuales declarados, la poesía estadounidense, como fuerza compuesta, se ha vuelto humana. Dado el interés de los estudiantes universitarios por escribir poesía (con frecuencia a costa de leer a los grandes muertos), hay más gente que nunca intentando escribir poesía en el inglés de Estados Unidos.
    El archipiélago de emplazamientos que mencioné anteriormente podría también ser descrito como una ventisca compuesta de poetas académicos, poetas vagabundos, poetas estudiantes, poetas budistas, eco-poetas, surrealistas, language poets (5), neo-formalistas, clubes de haikus, poetas del lenguaje de signos y slams. De una manera fragmentaria y confusa, nos estamos aproximando a lo que Robert Duncan llamaba «un simposio del todo».
    Nuestra situación de hoy en día no revela—como diría el crítico Harold Bloom—que los bárbaros estén reventando las puertas de marfil, sino que el collar de fuerza del WASP (6) anglo-americano alrededor de la subsistencia ha revelado su propio centro, sólo parcialmente eximio, y que esos previamente considerados «bárbaros» están ahora entre los mensajeros que visualizan energías excluidas, información encerrada y conexiones híbridas.

[1998]


Notas

(1) La traducción es de Celia y Louis Zukofsky, incluida en Complete Short Poetry del segundo.
(2) Sus Lorca Variations, editadas por Manuel Brito en Zasterle Press (La Laguna, 1990), son un interesante experimento de traducción/creación poética. Rothenberg, en una carta a Brito incluida en el libro, explica su método (traduzco del original): «Si recuerdas, estaba trabajando, mientras estabas en Binghamton, en una serie de traducciones de las “Suites” de Lorca: un proyecto que se convirtió en 250 páginas de traducciones que serán publicadas por Farrar Strauss en 1990 o 1991. Mi frustración en relación con esto es que no me permite publicar mis traducciones de manera independiente, diluyéndose así cualquier razón que pueda tener para hacer un homenaje a Lorca, etc. Con esto en mente, hace poco comencé a componer una serie de poemas propios (“variaciones”) que dependen del vocabulario (especialmente de nombres y adjetivos) de mis traducciones de las “Suites”, pero comencé a recomponerlos de diferentes maneras. No sé qué importancia tiene esa información para una lectura de los poemas, pero lo menciono para explicar el modo en que estos poemas son y no son míos, son y no son de Lorca». Este proceso trae a colación el método de escritura de Ronald Johnson en su libro Radi Os, en el que el poeta estadounidense escarba en Paradise Lost (las cursivas son mías) en busca de un poema oculto, por medio de la eliminación de palabras del original, hasta llegar a dicho poema. Johnson, en la portada del libro, presenta las letras Radi os como las únicas no tachadas del título del poema de Milton.  
(3) Por ejemplo, la serie Poets for the Millenium, realizada en colaboración con Pierre Joris.
(4) En este etcétera podríamos incluir las siguientes traducciones:
de Marianne Moore de una selección de las fábulas de La Fontaine;
de T.S. Eliot de Anábasis, de St.-John Perse;
de Langston Hughes de la poesía de Gabriela Mistral, de Federico García Lorca y (junto con Ben Frederic Carruthers) de Nicolás Guillén.
de Elizabeth Bishop de poesía hispánica (Octavio Paz); en lengua portuguesa (Manuel Bandeira, Joao Cabral de Melo Neto, Joaquim Cardozo, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Vinícius de Moraes, Anónimo [cuatro sambas ]), de poesía en lengua francesa (Max Jacob);
de Robert Lowell de poesía europea (su libro Imitations contiene traducciones de Homero, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Rilke, Pasternak y Montale);
de Armand Schwerner del Inferno de Dante, del Filoctetes de Sófocles, de poesía amerindia;
de Frank Samperi del Paradiso de Dante (todavía inédita);
de George Economou de la poesía de Konstantinos Kavafis y de tragedias de Eurípides;
de Gustaf Sobin de la obra de René Char y Henri Michaux;
de Pierre Joris de obras de Habib Tengour, de Abdelwahab Meddeb, de Paul Celan, de Kurt Schwitters, de Pablo Picasso (entre otros);
de Laima Sruoginis de poesía lituana contemporánea.
de Maureen Alsop de la poesía de Juana de Ibarbourou.  
de Joseph Mulligan de la poesía y la prosa de César Vallejo; de obras de Alejandra Pizarnik, Jorge Eduardo Eielson y Oliverio Girondo.
 (5) Grupo de poetas estadounidenses así llamados por su relación con la revista L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E (eds. Bruce Andrews y Charles Bernstein). En su ensayo «Textual Politics and the Language Poets», George Hartley los/las menciona: Bruce Andrews, Rae Armantrout, Steve Benson, Charles Bernstein, David Bromige, Clark Coolidge, Alan Davies, Ray DiPalma, Robert Grenier, Carla Harryman, Lyn Hejinian, Susan Howe, Steve McCaffery, Michael Palmer, Bob Perelman, Kit Robinson, Peter Seaton, James Sherry, Ron Silliman, Diane Ward, Barrett Watten y Hannah Weiner.
(6) White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (blanco anglosajón protestante). La palabra «wasp» significa «avispa».

Nota bio-bibliográfica

El poeta, traductor y ensayista estadounidense Clayton Eshleman nació en 1935 en Indianápolis. Editor de importantes revistas literarias: Quena (un número, 1965, editado en Lima y censurado por el Peruvian North American Institute por su contenido político), Caterpillar (veinte números, 1967-1973), Sulfur (1981-2000). El interés por el arte paleolítico se fusiona en ocasiones con su poesía (vid. Juniper Fuse: Upper Paleolithic Imagination & the Construction of the Underworld). Algunas de sus obras: Mexico and North, The Chavin Illumination, The House of Okumura, The Gull Wall, The Name Encanyoned River: Selected Poems 1960-1985, Antiphonal Swing: Selected Prose 1962-1987, Companion Spider: Essays (libro que incluye el texto que aquí presento traducido), Everwhat (Zasterle Press, Canary Islands, editado por Manuel Brito). Eshleman ha traducido obras de Pablo Neruda, César Vallejo (su poesía completa), Arthur Rimbaud, Antonin Artaud, Aimé Césaire, Bernard Bador (vid. http://www.claytoneshleman.com/).    

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Conrad DiDiodato post on Frank Samperi

I'm oftentimes amazed at the types of intersections to be encountered between culture and divinity.

What's in phenomenology that two spiritual masters, Frank Samperi and Edith Stein and perhaps many more, have recoiled from it and named it inimical to the spiritual itself? After all, it was touted in its day as a doctrine of empathy with the world or a sane procedural suspension (epoché) of belief in the face of the absurd and problematical. The reduction of life-experience to radically lived (ego-centric) sensations seemed to offer intuitive certainty in regards to human knowledge. Some have seen in it a sort of "spell of the sensuous" (David Abram) from which the most sublime world-knowledge can derive still.

Samperi had, however, derived his distaste for phenomenology from what he thought was its wildly processual and reductivist nature: resulting in  a sort of metaphysical pagan nation-worship or, as he puts it in a letter to Cid Corman, "the Pretense that there's One Nation" to which everything can be traced and in which there's no room for his venerated "Tradition of forms". Read More...

Thank you Conrad for your continued support of my father and his work.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Check out Conrad's post on Frank Samperi's translation of Dante's Paradise

A nice post from Conrad on Frank Samperi's translation of Dante's Paradise.

About three words separate Samperi from the others. He sings with a true Dantean heaviness in his heart: a kind of plodding literalness always pervades the true poet-pilgrim's chronicle (Perhaps only some of that is felt in this short passage). And against the greyness of exertion, physical and spiritual,  angels in Dante as in life, and their fulgurating movements, appear without the intermediaries of  technique ("sanza mezzo"): always studded with their own painful brilliances  (as in Celan), always grainy and sharp as their speech. That's the best that can be said for them: the rest is a matter of images and endless analogies and commentary. 
Read More....

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Trilogy coming out this Fall

Frank Samperi's Trilogy, (Quadrifariam, Prefiguration and Lumen Gloriae) that was published in the 1970's will be reprinted by Sam Ward of Skysill Press coming out this Fall.
http://skysillpress.blogspot.com/p/upcoming.html





This is so exciting and I am thrilled that Sam has decided to take on this project.
All three volumes in one book bringing Frank's work to light again almost 40 years later.




Saturday, July 7, 2012

One of my father's favorite directors and favorite movie.



The life of Jesus Christ according to the Gospel of Matthew. Pasolini shows Christ as a marxist avant-la-lettre and therefore uses half of the text of Matthew.




http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pier_Paolo_Pasolini

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Haibun for Frank

Check out this post today from Conrad DiDiadato.

http://didiodatoc.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

2012 Iowa Summer Writing Festival


Elizabeth Robinson is teaching a writing workshop at the Iowa University this summer.
This particular workshop is titled (Spiritual) Autobiography June 24 - 29.
Among some of the poets she will examine, are Frank O'Hara, Thomas Merton and one of her most
beloved poets, Frank Samperi. Click on the link below for more information.

http://www.continuetolearn.uiowa.edu/iswfest/html/instructor/Robinson.html

Every life includes crucial twists and turns, those moments on which deepest values and meanings hinge. This workshop will work to help writers recognize those moments in writing. Thus, by “spiritual” we mean shifts and turns that define the writer in surprising ways, adding new dimension to his or her life. (These may be overtly “religious” or unconventional.) We will examine works from prose writers from Augustine to Zora Neale Hurston and Jeanette Walls and poets from Sappho to Frank O’Hara and Thomas Merton. Assuming that the most important experiences are difficult to tame in language, we’ll use every resource we can conjure, doing writing from multiple genres: conventional prose, poetry, parable, even playwriting. Writers at all levels are welcome in this workshop; we will generate new writing every day, but will also gladly consider works-in-progress that class members bring to the table.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Happy Birthday Frank






Happy Birthday greetings to Frank today who would have been almost 80.
 
What wonderful discussions we would have had. But he speaks through his poetry and  letters and tells me much about himself, his poetry, friends and critics and Dante.
 
Let's both drink to Frank today and celebrate a person, a life and an extraordinary body of work!

From Conrad.

Thank you so much Conrad for this!
Love Claudia

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Joan Baez




Just watched this amazing docmentary on Joan Baez - check it out
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/joan-baez/how-sweet-the-sound/1185/


Features rare performance footage and candid interviews with David Crosby, Bob Dylan, ex-husband David Harris, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Roger McGuinn, and more
Joan Baez made her debut appearance at the Newport Folk Festival in 1959. Fifty years later she returned to that same Rhode Island stage on August 2, marking her and the festival’s 50th anniversaries. She is presently on a worldwide tour in celebration of her 50 years as a performer and in support of her Grammy-nominated CD, Day After Tomorrow.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Fourth, by Frank Samperi 1973



 in the midst of nature
 one remains unobserved
 the hidden
                        the text
 the dissolution
a falling away
before his very eyes
___________________________

the poet

the master of veils
guards at the same time
the ultimate meaning
of his work


he gives battle
foils every key
the dragon rendered
writhing

the pure approach
the fourfold
in their gaze
they enter

never return
_________________________


purified of all imagery
the ghostly man
gathers flowers
for the sake of giving

the receivers say
strange gifts
discarding them
by the wayside

angels appear
in grass

the receivers
almost completely
out of sight

the road stark

dusk
______________________

inward the eye
Eternity in view
outward
mirage

less than dream

going on a ways
approaching water
objects now only
reflections

stepping beyond

ground non-existent

extinction complete

nameless formless
reached


       







       











Saturday, April 14, 2012

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Two postcards from Clayton to Frank

Click on image to enlarge. Post cards from 1974 and 1975. One from Italy. I went to Paris, Venice and Rome for my honeymoon back in 1995. Venice was an absolutely beautiful city.

Thank you Clayton for granting permission to post the letters. I hope to post more.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sun City, Arizona

My father in back of the house in Sun City, AZ with the rose bushes.
My mom's mom, Alma Voltz had a house in AZ that my mom and dad moved to in 1987 from NYC.
It was a good time.
This photo is a sad one because my dad was very sick at the time and had been in and out of the hospital.

It is hard to see your parents get sick and it was not a very good time for everyone.
I like this photo because it is black and white and my dad loved to look at the rose garden.

His last poems were written living in this house and looking out onto the rose garden.

My father rests at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona on North Cave Creek road.
It has been a while since I have visited the grave site but I am comforted by the fact that the stars look down
upon him at night in the wide expanse of the night sky.
My mom now also rests beside him as she did in life always.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Father and Daughter


Picture of my father and I on the terrace of our apt in NYC at Ave C, lower east side where we lived.
This apt was much better than the one before on 10th st between Ave A and Ave B.
That was a walk up and had mice and lots of cockroaches everywhere.

I had my own room at this apt and we were there for 10 years, through my High School years.
The second picture I believe is celebrating my graduation from Music and Art High School.
My mom and dad were a very handsome couple together.
I majored in Fine Art there and went off to SUNY Purchase and studied Art there as well.

Those were the best years. I studied Ballet at The Joffrey Ballet school in the city until I was 16 years old.
We were a family surrounded by music, poetry and studies.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Summer fun at the Cape


Every summer, the Samperi family went to Cape Cod, Mass. in August. As kids, we could not wait until camp was over so we could all get packed and load up the rental Dodge car and head to the Cape.
We would bring the whole kitchen sick with us and take the 8 hour ride to our cottage in Dennis Port which was near Hyannis.
We had the most fun ever. The sand dunes, the beach, the summer food, the best summers I ever had in my life!
My dad was the most happy at the Cape. He read and wrote a lot there. He was so relaxed and he loved being in the beauty of this place. My parents were very happy here. Away from the city life.



We were such a close family that this wonderful vacation that we took each summer made memories that lasted for ever. My brother and I grew up each summer with these moments on the Cape.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Family photos


These photos were taken in Brooklyn where my father was born. The top photo is the Samperi family:
Aunt Josie, Aunt Francis, Aunt Josephine, a cousin holding me, Uncle Frank, my mom, Uncle Jimmie and another cousin.
We had all the family functions in Brooklyn, Christmas, Easter, Birthdays and my Aunt Francis did all the Italian cooking. Or when we had a Communion we eat out at the neighborhood Italian restaurant.
They lived on Ave U and we went there almost twice a month and road the train from NY to Brooklyn.
The photo below is my Communion at the local Catholic church. I still have my little white pocketbook with my Bible. It was a beautiful memory to be with my whole family on this Holy moment in a child's life.
Very fond moments growing up with my Italian Samperi family.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

David Miller reading at Birkbeck College, Univ. of London, Nov 2011

David Miller playing clarinet and reading his poetry at Birkbeck College (Uni of London) last November. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Two chap books by James Weil, 1963 and 1965 from Frank's library


From "Sorrow's Spy"

"But ask not Bodies doom'd to die,
To what abode they go;
Since Knowledge is but sorrow's Spy,
It is not safe to know."
Sir William Davenant

Not holy wholly weaned from Plato
I feel bottled here, as though
informed I am informed upon.
Now all that cuddled once turns on
me to a curdle; what I know
is how I watch the world grow
to universe of discourse, cell
small as my own original.
Sour sucker for the tattler's teat,
barbarian again I beat
at metaphysic bars, dare doom,
delivery to workshop's womb.
_____________________________

4 - 3 - 2 - 1 - 0

I HEAR my son
refer to himself
in the third person
and to one
Cape Cannibal--
he doesn't speak well
for four.

Against him is
that blasted Atlas
farting his
way to heaven--a hell
of a way
to get there.

And having eaten
my heart
out, I talk
in a second
person, which
doesn't speak
well for me
either.
________________________

THE CURSE OF KING TUT'S TOMB
on which was inscribed: "Death shall
come on swift wings to him that touches
the tomb of a Pharaoh

So, what does it tell,
the Tut-tut scholars say,
that some who touched this fell
in love with windows?

It's not the falling-out
with legend heaven knows
that hurts me, nor those touched
as the story goes;

but how golden-gone
we are reading words as
a curse, ourselves cursed out
of touch with a touchstone.
___________________________

From "The Thing Said"

garden

please let me
dig demons

I wrestle
rock like an

angel dug
in & it

gives up hard
what in the

world would
an angel

do that for
_______________________

THEN

Sometimes there
is nothing

further from
a father

than his son
Then though my

son I hold
you closest

for being
beyond me
_________________________

THE POSTMAN'S DAY OFF,
I CELEBRATE

SUNDAY is
an empty
day. I don't

hear from my
friends. So I
must fill full

the day with
listening--
amaze at

how the birds
quarrel &
the boys sing

And when they
are shushed in
bed, may I

wonder how
the day is
accomplished

James Weil

Saturday, February 11, 2012

David Miller's Spiritual Letters

David Miller’s Spiritual Letters (Series 1-5) has recently been published by Chax Press (Tucson, Arizona).


 
Previous selections from the ongoing Spiritual Letters project have appeared from Reality Street Editions (Spiritual Letters (I-II) [i.e. Series 1-2] and other writings) and Stride Publications (Spiritual Letters (Series 3) ) as well as in small, limited edition publications. The present collection is easily the most comprehensive to date, a 104 page book comprising all of the first five series. Spiritual Letters is, for the most part, an exploration of poetry in (as) prose.

The word “spiritual” is, in this volume, ripped away from the New Age and returned to its sources in Kabbalah and early Christian (gnostic) writings. But it carries with it the world as we have it now. A heap of horrors, remnants, a sense of the feminine under assault, and the drive to love. Therefore the dimensions are multiple and unstable. To be human is to be a spiritual entity more aligned with nature than with culture, and therefore to rebel. I am happy to have and to hold this book.

Fanny Howe

If “experiences at the limit of what can be apprehended” be the working definition of “sublime”, then Miller’s is and is not a sublime work, since it hovers within and beyond the limits of what can be apprehended, and in this is a speculative and phenomenological poetry.

Norma Cole

What the text of these Letters suggests, in part, is a meditation on the (im)possibility of a rationally conceived aesthetics of writing which would represent us in our moments of transcendence, in our acts of remembrance, in our experiences of poverty and isolation....

Benjamin Hollander
It takes a strong writer to insist on the prose element in prose poetry. Miller succeeds by enjambing the stylistic signs of prose (direct speech, a narrator, even devices of plot) with parts that are poetry (sometimes lineated as such, more often as images and lines that simply by their referential and unhurried quality are poetry).

Giles Goodland

Spiritual Letters (Series 1-5) is available from the Chax Press website (www.chax.org) – enquiries can be made to the publisher, Charles Alexander (chax@theriver.com). The book costs US $17.00 and can be ordered from either the Chax Press website or from Small Press Distribution (www.spdbooks.org. ). It can also be purchased from the author for £10.00 (cheque payable to David Miller – please send to 99 Mitre Road, London SE1 8PT).

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Some important posts today by David Miller

Gil Ott was a very considerable poet and an intelligent person. He would not, I believe, have spoken of Frank's "religiosity" ( a regrettable and condescending term). Frank's spirituality and his sense of a "poverty art" drew Gil and I towards Frank and towards each other. Robert Lax was the other contemporary poet I would see in this light, and Frank definitely respected him - as shown by his contribution to 'The ABCs of Robert Lax', which the late Nick Zurbrugg and I edited, and which must have been one of Frank's last publications during his lifetime. I must just say how grateful everyone who admires Frank's work should be to Claudia for continuing to celebrate his work. David Miller

I'll reply to my own remarks. Frank INSISTED on the idea of poetry as SPIRITUAL ART. If you don't agree with this, you can still analyze Frank's work, of course, but you are going against his sense of FUNDAMENTAL ORIENTATION and you are missing the point. Rothko was confronted once by someone who said that all he saw in R's paintings were colour relationships. R said, if that's all you see, you've missed the point. Same with Samperi. Samperi isn't just about minimalism (though minimalism isn't inappropriate), he isn't about Objectivism (possibly not at all).... He is about poetry as SPIRITUAL ART. And there is nothing New Age about this... my God, Frank would have despised the whole notion. (And I can't imagine Gil Ott going along with it.) Frank's poetics were rooted in Aquinas and Dante. I can imagine it otherwise... possibly Vedanta, possibly Mahayana Buddhism... but would Frank? I don't really think so... though I may be wrong, David Miller

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Review on Spiritual Neccessity by Ian Brinton, Spring 2006

Spiritual Necessity, Selected Poems of Frank Samperi edited by John Martone,
Barrytown/Station Hill Press 2004


The overwhelming impression one gets from a first glance at this long overdue selection of the New York poet, Frank Samperi, is one of whiteness and space:
…must

you talk


of failure;

even this

snow’s

right


—ah, oak,

branching


over

my work


shed

It is almost as if the words were like bird-tracks in snow or as if they were yearning upwards to get to a rarefied world beyond the page. Robert Kelly’s Preface to the volume suggests that ‘Frank Samperi was legendary for the purity of his poetry. His language was clear the way glass is, demanding only attention to its lustre, and to the world it lets through. His poems are statements, clean as rock crystal, rhythmically minimal, intellectually ardent.’ The word ‘crystal’ is interesting not only on account of the volume’s inclusion of a prose piece from Samperi’s 1967 volume, Crystals, but also because it points towards the clarity of edges, the sharp definition which words have in these hauntingly cut poems. Cid Corman, whose series of Origin, A Quarterly for the Creative, was central as a platform for new poets in the quarter-century from 1951 onwards, wrote a review of Samperi’s The Prefiguration in May 1971:
The shortest poems often suggest an opening, a love of the page’s white space—and Samperi is extremely careful in his layout (and the publisher has followed it precisely).
Movement is backwards, the past, or sorrel horses galloping along a dirt road that is itself moving—to a standstill? Or a train, magician, covering distances, exposing a sudden vision of continuity.
Always in a room, looking out a window, or from a train, or even on the street, eyes peering out of the flesh, the stranger within, trying to compose, discompose or recompose, the scene. The seen.

Samperi was in good company in Origin. The first issue, Spring 1951, contained the first of Charles Olson’s Maximus poems, the sixth in the Summer of 1952 William Carlos Williams’s ‘The Desert Music’. Looking through the subsequent issues of this journal one comes to recognise the names of many of those who would feature in Donald Allen’s seminal anthology, The New American Poetry 1945-60. Each series of Origin consisted of twenty issues, four a year, according to the seasons, for five years and, as Corman announced at the back of the issues in Series 3, ‘Origin…intends to clarify the editor’s sense of art as the central relation of all human being, the realization of man’s relation, affectionately, to each other and himself and thru himself to all that is met in circumstance.’ The poem quoted above was published in Second Series, issue 12 (January 1964), alongside work by Louis Zukofsky, Clayton Eshleman, Gary Snyder and Eugenio Montale. On the front cover, in bold type, it announced
featuring—

FRANK SAMPERI

Corman went on to publish much of Samperi’s work over the following issues highlighting him as the main contributor in Third Series, issue 19 (October 1970) and Fourth Series, issue 1 (October 1977).

When The Prefiguration was published as a Mushinsha Book by Grossman Publishers in 1971, Samperi wrote to Corman to express his delight with the exact presentation of the text:

I must confess that I was overwhelmed by the book. E’s (the publisher’s) fine sense of structure establishes the proportions of the book beyond a doubt—the malleability of the prose in harmony with the longest poems, plus the ease of the last 6 poems surprisingly resolving the totality of vertical direction. Purity is an element throughout, and that does me a world of good.

In the margins of the letter he wrote ‘I mean, the whole book seems to be drawn to the top of the page—so in a truly profound sense So Close is the finest aspect of the vertical.’ Martone’s selection of the poems keeps this visual delight and in the pages of So Close, the lines do seem drawn upwards. For instance the two lines ‘in the midst of the collapse our room dark our/speech our love the background’ sit delicately four-fifths of the way up a completely blank page.

In 1965, Will Petersen published Samperi’s short collection Of Light in Kyoto containing the following page-length piece:

going out
to
the backyard
to shovel snow

away from
the
cellar door
an old man

looked up
at
a shadeless
window

blinding
in
the sun
setting

behind the
homes
beyond
the freight yard

It is worth comparing the contemplative tone of this word-painting with Samperi’s own comments on the act of contemplation, published here in the extract from Crystals 1967:

It is wrong to think of contemplation as the opposite of activity: that is, contemplation is a prefiguration of the very activity that pertains to the Kingdom of Heaven. It is the State that fosters the idea that contemplation is passive, therefore, more in keeping with the man who doesn’t work, or better who won’t contribute to the give and take that is the market. From this it is just to ask: what is the meaning of the word activity when the State is Unity. It’s obvious: exploitation.

Samperi’s attention to moments is an active engagement which, as with Gerard Manley Hopkins, is also a profoundly spiritual one and perhaps part of the alluring contemplative tone in Samperi’s lines can be expressed by going back to Hopkins’s Notebook entry for March 1871:

What you look hard at seems to look hard at you, hence the true and false instress of nature. One day early in March when long streamers were rising from over Kemble End one large flake loop-shaped, not a streamer but belonging to the string, moving too slowly to be seen, seemed to cap and fill the zenith with a white shire of cloud. I looked long up at it till the tall height and the beauty of the scaping—regularly curled knots springing if I remember from fine stems, like foliation in wood or stone—had strongly grown on me. It changed beautiful changes, growing more into ribs and one stretch of running into branching like coral. Unless you refresh the mind from time to time you cannot always remember or believe how deep the inscape in things is.

The detail involved in total engagement with something was what prompted Olson to write to Corman in March 1951 concerning the matter of proof-reading for that early Origin:

I shall be most grateful to you, if you can’t send proofs, if you will be this kind, and take the time I know it, hopingly, takes, to do this for me. For—as you yourself—I know I have a damn irritating style of punctuation & placements (I do it gravely, as a part of, my method, believing that, resistance must be a part of style if, it is a part of the feeling)—and if errors creep in, palpable errors, then, the whole careful structure comes down.

However, with the words ‘market’ and ‘State’ and ‘exploitation’ in Samperi’s prose we might also be inclined to look back to William Carlos Williams’s early poetry:

When I was younger
it was plain to me
I must make something of myself.
Older now
I walk back streets
admiring the houses
of the very poor:
roof out of line with sides
the yards cluttered
with old chicken wire, ashes,
furniture gone wrong;
the fences and outhouses
built of barrel-staves
and parts of boxes, all,
if I am fortunate,
smeared a bluish green
that properly weathered
pleases me best
of all colours.
No one
will believe this
of vast import to the nation.

(‘Pastoral’ from Al Que Quiere, 1917)

The word ‘this’ has ambiguous reference to the poem as a construct as well as to the poverty. The shack is pushed to the limits of the city so that it won’t draw too much attention to itself and the poem, written some five years before the publication of The Wasteland, won’t disturb literary society too much! If you are interested in ‘contemplation’ and politics then it would be worthwhile looking at Ed Dorn’s poem ‘Time Blonde’ from his 1964 volume, Hands Up!

John Martone’s introduction to this selected Samperi is clear and sympathetic:

Samperi was one of that vital generation for whom poetry and life were a single task. Along with Olson’s Maximus Poems, Larry Eigner’s countless books, and Corman’s Of, Samperi’s work belongs to that distinctively American genre of the life-poem. His work is a radical autobiography, structured upon image rather than narrative.

Martone sees Samperi as a visionary pilgrim who has Dante as his master: orphan and first-generation Italian-American, he discovered Dante in a Brooklyn institution, taught himself Aquinas in Latin, studied the Indian philosopher Sankara, non-Euclidean geometry, and astrology.

Editing Samperi’s work presents specific challenges. On the one hand, he wrote but one long poem with structural complexities reminiscent of Dante’s Commedia, complete with late-twentieth century versions of his predecessor’s canticles, cantos and episodes. Each of Samperi’s volumes is in fact a poetic sequence made up of subsequences, which are sometimes named, sometimes partitioned by blank pages. Conveying a sense of the individual lyric in its own right and in terms of its place in the opus is a difficult proposition in a volume of selected poems. The meditative and visual qualities of Samperi’s work also require abundant “white space” in any faithful edition.

The results of Martone’s editorship can be judged by the extracts he has chosen from Lumen Gloriae, Grossman 1973, where he has kept to the nine words to the page for

riding a train

looking at homes

desiring a home

or the simple junction of movement and stillness in

an old man leaning out of a window

knowing himself useless

the potted plant beside him

backing it up

When Samperi defines contemplation in terms of activity there is another interesting link to be made with Charles Olson’s immensely influential essay, Projective Verse where he sees movement as being essential to the poetic enterprise:

Now (3) the process of the thing, how the principle can be made so to shape the energies that the form is accomplished. And I think it can be boiled down to one statement (first pounded into my head by Edward Dahlberg): ONE PERCEPTION MUST IMMEDIATELY AND DIRECTLY LEAD TO A FURTHER PERCEPTION. It means exactly what it says, is a matter of, at all points (even, I should say, of our management of daily reality as of the daily work) get on with it, keep moving, keep in, speed, the nerves, their speed, the perceptions, theirs, the acts, the split second acts, the whole business, keep it moving as fast as you can, citizen.

This sort of relation was perhaps what was on Corman’s mind when he delivered his Aquila essay, ‘Projectile/Percussive/Prospective: The Making of a Voice’ in March 1982:

Though Olson, Creeley and I have worked out our own modes for ourselves and hopefully of use to others, our voices, I believe, utterly individuated, impossible to confuse us, we are also deeply related. Not only through the ear of Pound, the idiomatic quickening and flow of Williams, and for Creeley and myself at least the confirmation of exactitudes within the confines of language in Zukofsky, but through continuing attentions. There are others, of course, too, like Dorn and Sorrentino. Or Samperi.

Corman opens his review of The Prefiguration with a few lines from Hopkins’s ‘As kingfishers catch fire’ and goes on to say;

To read Hopkins or Samperi, for me at least, requires no suspension of either disbelief or belief. I hear what they say to the extent that I can and to that extent precisely my own words follow.
A man in the middle way, or an innocent, for he is an innocent. His eyes see beyond judgement, though the body’s needs brought to society bring him to critique.
The earlier poems are lonelier and even more imaginary, a man talking to himself always, trying to make sense, if only to himself, seeing himself dying, seeing himself dead, his body roped to a raft by vagrants and children, with lilies and seaweed,
the raft
adrift.
In a sense he comes on like the Noh, from way back, posthumously in the guise of a native of New York, or Brooklyn, but clearly, transparently, a spirit.

Samperi’s spiritual quality is not a turning away from the world around him but rather an embracing, an understanding of its components. In Crystals he is very clear about the spiritual in the modern world:

To be drawn into the market only intensifies one’s sense of the ambience that impedes; therefore, any science that pretends to have discovered a means to a re-establishment of the natural has, in truth, simply proposed to the mind an end that places the whole populace in a position conducive toward complete service to the State.
The despair: to say the world is to give rhetorical definitiveness to your world.
It is obvious that the notions making it on your own and being responsible are there solely for the sake of stressing the eternity in the now.
Linguistics is the sole study of the logomachist.
Looking out only to refer back and then finally looking out significantly.
A doctrine is only valid ontologically, that is, nothing that one man or another can say can place the meaning unequivocally there rather than here. What is intended is a boundary that reduces each man’s movement to a movement essential in the sense that the ambience is but a projection of his inner state.
There is a seriousness of tone here that points back to Blake on the one hand and forward, perhaps, to the Kitchen Poems of J.H. Prynne on the other. In terms of the former there is the aphoristic sense which echoes the ‘Proverbs of Hell’ from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell; in terms of the latter there is the italicised colloquialism which is inserted into the discursive text carrying with it a tone of anger at the State’s involvement with the life of the individual.
Samperi’s spiritual quality can be felt through the simplicity of lines such as

we stood on a bridge

the vantage point

a willow

eery

Or, it can be read in the translation of Dante’s Paradiso, Canto XXXIII, which Corman published in Origin Fourth Series issue I, October 1977, where it appeared alongside William Bronk and Lorine Niedecker:

As is the geometer who wholly applies himself
to measure the circle, and doesn’t meet,
thinking, that principle whence he needs,
such was I to that new sight:
I wished to see how the image agreed
with the circle and how it places itself there;
but the proper wings were not for this:
except that my mind was struck
by a brightness in which its wish came.
To the high fantasy here power fell short;
but already was turning my desire and the velle,
like wheel that’s moved equally,
the love that moves the sun and the other stars.


Ian Brinton, Spring 2006
Tears in the Fence, Literary Journal

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Intensional and Extensional Motion of Frank Samperi's The Triune, by Michele Mazzia

Feb 12 (not sure of the date) I think it might be 1975.

Dear Mr. Samperi,
Last semester I took a course in contemporary literature and Caterpillar Anthology was one of the course's texts. Reading 20 sections from The Triune was like following a path of discovery - the poem is pure energy to me. I've since read The Prefiguration and plan to order The Triune.
My professor, Peter Clothier, suggested I send a paper I wrote for the class to you. I hope you enjoy
seeing in what manner The Triune speaks to some of its readers.

Sincerely,
Michele Mazzia
Senior philosophy major
Univ. of Southern California

The Triune is a journey: a man's walk through the country and the city, a soul's passage through time.
1) The motion is expressed in the flow of both concrete images and abstract concepts.
The extensional motion, the form of the lines and stanzas, is that each line is one unitary image or concept.
Each linear unit gives way to the next. The lines are equally spaced and positioned along the same margin;
thus each line is of equal weight and each image is as primary as the next.

CONCRETE

The park quiet
I climbed rocks
came to paths to bridges
to grass trees beyond
turned down to a lake
few rowboats out
some boys their pants rolled up
fishing at the edge (p.152)

The poem is a first-person narration. The narrator, the subject of the  journey, is always present; and when reference to him is explicit, it is most often with the motion verbs "I walked," "I climbed," "I came," "I turned."
Thus the images are always the images he sees as he travels; the images are united and flow naturally. There is constant reference to paths and bridges-- connectives between sites.
The direction of the motion is "ambiance conchoidal": the curving paths and recurrent images--hill, rocks, trees, river--recurrent locations--weed, desert, city, valley. It is a journey round and round toward a center, also a unification. It is "circular movement squared." (p. 166)

ABSTRACT

The flow of concrete images is juxtaposed by the succession of abstract concepts.

sweet peas
the graveside
then water
space a reflection unity
light to river
the flowers planets
the universe a body
an obviation
horizon (p.158)

The movement of the body is accompanied by the movement of thought. But the abstractions of thought are not analytical or logical, but rather imaginative. Compare the above passage to the introduction to Blake's "Auguries Of Innocence:"

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

It is a move of the imagination from the particulars of sense to the totality of space; it is the imagination that likens the universe to a body.
2) There is a tension between the concrete and the abstract that heightens the energy level of the poem.
In general terms, the tension between the concrete and the abstract is the disparity of the particularity of sense-perceptions and the unity of the imagination. An expression of a more specific form of tension between abstract and concrete in The Triune is the polarity of geography and geometry.
The motion is at once geographical motion--from rivers to valleys to hills to cities--and geometrical motion--"conchoidal" and "circular movement squared." The motion is both between two particular places and an instance of a universal geometrical form. The higher energy level of the poem is the result of this representation of the same phenomenon is alternative descriptions. It is like two different motions.
3) But the distinction between geographic particular and geometrical universal breaks down, for they both pre-suppose each other.
There is a contradiction in taking the geographic location as only a particular:

left and right rivers
the geographical false
stressing a position

For position is only a position within the whole, in relation to the totality of locations along the conchoidal path. Similarly, the conchoidal form of the motion presupposes a particular point as center:

Circle whose center was no where visible except as
circumference presupposed itself as center to a
circumference no where visible

Thus, the particular geographic locale moves into the totality, and the universal geometrical form moves into
the particular. This motion between universal and particular is continuous, and analogous to the endless
conchoidal path whose point-center is never reached.
4) The motion in The Triune is thus shown to have a dialectical character: the movement of qualities into their opposites.
The kinetics of The Triune are attained in the passage from a concrete image or a concept to its opposite.

CONCRETE DIALECTICS

a) "the right reflects the left"
b) the rising and setting of the sun
c) the path from the river to the desert
d) "sleep the awakening"
e) love/hate:
"a man and a woman lying amidst grass"
"men and woman shot among the trees to the right of a waterfall
a girl raped left naked"
"war
crime
diversion
the architecture positions
the people individually met belying the peace"
f) "fire below by the river"
g) from the country to the city

ABSTRACT DIALECTICS

a) "straight line
curve
one the other
other
reflecting"
--reflection is between opposites, the uniting of opposites in the reflection.

b) "the unitary unjustified
line spectral
point zero unresolved
unit net zero
however no negative no positive
--negativity contained in the meaning of positive, so there can be no positive without the negative. The point zero, neither positive nor negative, is an enigma--the unitary is not zero, so it must pass directly from the negative to the positive, with no intermediary zero state.

The life process itself is dialectical:

identity a person
dying
depersonalization
contradiction

The activity of life is a movement toward death: living is dying.
The dialectic is described:

the god involution evolution
resolution deceptive
induction deduction
transformations
therefore equilibrations
then opposite
generation
circular movement squared

The spiral development: deceptive, for though traveling along the same course, every step taken has its opposite.

The Triune presents dialectical motion at a multiplicity of levels, and thus is itself a spiral staircase. The first level is within the concrete and abstract realms themselves: the movement from images concepts to their opposites. The second level is the dialectic of the course traveled: the endless conchoidal path. The third level is the inter-action of the abstract and the concrete: the particular geography and universal geometry moving into each other. The next level is the general description of the dialectic within the poem. The last level is
The Triune as a whole containing the other levels. Each stage contains the dialectic of the previous stages.

The only overtly dialectical motion of the extension of the poem is the last line of the Caterpillar excerpt: the line extensionally reads in a downward direction, but the intension is climbing, transcending.

Dialectics achieves a unity higher than that of the totality of the imagination, for it unites that totality with its opposite particularity. But of course, the vision of the totality afforded by the imagination is necessary to the dialectical consciousness. The place of dialectics in the journey of the spirit may be as a source of partial light on the true course, analogous to Dante's flame symbolic of the light philosophy can give to the
heathen.