Saturday, February 28, 2009

Save a Forest

Looking at the 3-foot stack of old magazines over there in the corner, I think we should stop printing literary journals and move everything over to the Internet. More and and more, I'm liking what I see in the on-line journals. The quality is there in many of them. And the biggies like Poetry and Kenyon Review and Agni, etc., can continue to provide the kind of quality they've been offering in an on-line mode. They can continue their advertising on-line as well. And the poems will be more accessible, reaching more readers and staying in print a lot longer. Thereby making the journals' survival a lot more feasible, and saving one heck of a lot of trees.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Amazing Karesansui Poems

I am reading a slim volume of poems by the superb West Coast poet Carol Snow titled Placed: Karesansui Poems. It's taking me a long time to read because there are so few words. The title of each poem is a single preposition, and the view from each is into the karesansui garden, a small landscape garden designed to be viewed from a number of fixed vantage points.

The entire book is composed of a series of 70 poems, each titled with a preposition followed by a small collection of phrases separated by dashes, many of them in quotation marks, with meticulous documentation of their sources. This is, in fact, probably the most meticulous book of poems I have ever read!

And I am slow because the poems demand that. What are prepositions but linking words? They are entirely about relationships--temporal, spacial, logical. So the poems are meditations on relationship. Here is "Across," in its entirety:


each of its stones its own--on the scale of-- : from
a distance: an ocean

Some of the references are clear, others are pebbles dropped into the well, and it takes a long time for them to reach bottom. That's why this reading is so slow.

There is more silence in these poems than in any I have read since Dickinson. There is also more action, and hardly any-thing. An extraordinary collection.