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July 16, 2010 / johnoliversimon

Writings

It comes to my attention that there are several kinds of writing I seem to be posting on this blog, along with what I send out to a listserv of about 60 friends, family, virtual historical baseball players, and tutelary poets of southern Vermont, Sausalito, and Chico among other places. It’s invigorating these days to feel the presence of a live audience, people actually reading what I write! Publishing in little magazines is like throwing torn-up love letters into the waters of a cenote.

I am starting to carve lush slices out of huge projects which never quite saw the light of day. My Grandparents Wedding Day is the very beginning of the long auto slash biography I wrote of and with my mother, Frances Cassandra Kehrlein Simon Adler. Frances was a rebel, a Communist, an assiduous amateur memorist. We did oral history together the summer before she died, not before revealing a final shattering surprise. It’s a strange, whimsical and dramatic tale. The next installment has to do with skeletons in closets.

I’ve travelled among the poetries of Latin America for nearly thirty years, and The Road to Iguazú, the travel/ poetry documentary book which spines my longest trip, through ten countries from México to Argentina, September 1995 to June 1996, almost all in Spanish, second-class bus and one-star hotel, meeting and interviewing poets and writing the 8-line octaves of  Caminante (“a major poem” — Gary Snyder) and ending up at the Festival de Poesía Internacional in Medellín, Colombia, was published piecemeal and parftially in Poetry Flash, thought about by some university presses, but in the end never published.

My deep perception from that voyage is that every country’s poetry is riven by fault-lines of bitter personal and metaaesthetic enmity, like ours between Quietude, White Noise and Slam. The Argentines, for instance, in 1996 were divided into the Objectivistas, the Neorrománticos and the Poetas de Lenguaje, with the Neobarrocos hovering just offshore. If you put them all together you might have one good poetic. I can’t write about North American poetry with any particular insight because I’m just another little fish in that river,

All we can do as locals is cheer on our home team. As well as Ron Silliman writes in his splendid blog, that’s what he does in re American poetics” boost his cohorts of the post-avant. If I were to loudly cheer on and expiate the virtues of, say, Charles Potts and Jack Hirschman, the two best male North American poets around my age (there are many women poets better than any of us guys), as well I might, I’d probably be hoisting the same ballyhoo.

On my listserv, I’m posting new poems as they see the light of computer after three to eight drafts in longhand — today I mailed out numbers 99 and 100 (in a superseded but not net yet abandoned numbering scheme) in eleven-syllable lines, which I ripped off from poetry in Spanish, addressed to my granddaughter, Tesla Rose Simon Moyer. I’ve posted a few of the granddaughter poems here — I started from numbers one and two, and then La Playa recently). If you want to get on my listserv, just ask.

Translation. My two published books of translation are From the Lightning, from Green Integer, a selected of Gonzalo Rojas, the yioungest poet in Latin America, born 1917 in Lebú, Chile and going strong, and Ghosts of the Palace of Blue Tiles, a chapbook from Tameme of Jorge Fernández Granados, the most important younger poet (b. 1961) in Mexico. I have a big contribution to the Selected Poems of Elsa Cross, from Shearsman, and my translation of Alberto Blanco’s first book Giro de faros is hoping for a venue. Elsa and Alberto are Mexican also. Right now I’m translating Uruguayan poet Eduardo Milán, long resident in Mexico.

Most of what I’m writing these days about poet-teaching, which has been my day-job for 40 years in and mostly out of the school system, is going into the next Best Of anthology from Poetry Inside Out. A previous post tells me how a saint gave me my big break in 1973.

I prefer to write about baseball at Imagine Sports where I play virtual historical ball. My Dharma Renacimiento (Walter Johnson, Dazzy Vance, Ralph Branca, Gordy Coleman, Gerry Priddy, Willard Brown) started out 6-13 and I posted a rant about how terrible they were. The Renacimiento promptly went on a ten-game winning streak.

Negro League outfielder WIllard Brown

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