Monday, June 15, 2009

The Cosmos Trilogy

So I've been reading the genius of Frederick Seidel (The Cosmos Trilogy. 2003. Farrar, Strauss and Giroux. ISBN 0-374-52891-8). His poems are strange, slippery, all the same length, sometimes shallow, sometime incredibly deep, sometimes perplexing, but always interesting. I don't know what he does, but it works. I think it is tone partially - you never know where an image or metaphor will go, he doesn't set up expectations I guess, right from the first stanza we know this work will go places:
The wobbly flesh of an oyster
Out of its shell on the battlefield is the feel
Of spacetime
In the young universe.
I mean, how could you not want to read on after that first stanza from Black Stovepipe Hat. He has some brilliant metaphors too. Not those nice fluffy, sensitive kind that so many people do so well, you know the beautiful ones - his are harsh, flimsy, funny and ironic and most of all completely and utterly original. No one would have ever used those two things in that way before and to be honest not many people ever will again. One of those writers who makes you want to copy what he does, but not sure how to do it. It's almost like if I tried to copy his poem word for word it wouldn't come out as good (Starlight):
The universe is a single organism
Made of two
Or more individual,
Or many more than two, individual

Moving parts and blitzkrampf,
Explosive but balletic slow-mo
Of vast organs
Of ecstasy making sounds

The radio telescopes will hear
Billions of light-years from now,
The way whales croon
Whalesong through the ocean microphone

To an audience in the darkness far away.
To live your life
You have to use it up.
A star performs its nuclear core.
Fucking amazing. That is another thing he does too I think, he has these really long broken up sentences with so many things going on inside them that at first glance it seems like a whole bunch of disjunctive ideas, but when you begin to unravel it and put it all together, there is a method to it and the meaning starts to seep through. I like that and could be a good point for me to remember. He seems to be interested in unusual syntax and line breaks in a similar way to myself too, so maybe I can learn from this guy.

So a successful reading anyway. I haven't been this excited about finding a new poet (to me) in ages.

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