john bennett | the black blood of dinosaurs

25 05 2010

PoetryDispatch No. 321 | May 25, 2010


Editor’s Note: There is so much anger in me over the oil spill in the Gulf I can’t stand to hear or read another word about it. I know I am not alone trying to deal with this rage.

In a few weeks I will be teaching my annual Writing Workshop at The Clearing, here in Ellison Bay, Wisconsin where I have not so much ‘taught’ as presented my sense of the writer’s life for over thirty years. The theme of this year’s workshop is “The Writer and the Bigger Picture.” Major study includes: Carolyn Forche’, Nadine Gordimer, Tim O’Brien. I suspect you know where I am headed with this theme.

I prefaced my description of the course this year with a quote from Pablo Neruda: “From the Inca to the Indian, from the Aztec to the contemporary Mexican peasant, our homeland America has magnificent mountains, rivers, deserts and mines rich in minerals. Yet the inhabitants of this generous land live in great poverty. What then should be the poet’s duty?” (Italics mine).

John Bennett has always known precisely what the poet’s duty is in both poetry and prose. His brilliant ‘shards’ (a new collection of these gems recently released, DRIVE BY ) are evidence enough. So too the poem below, (a likely candidate for class study) where, with a single image, John skillfully raises the mundane, preachy aspect of the “poetry of politics,” turning anger into art. —Norbert Blei

The Black Blood of Dinosaurs

John Bennett

Two memorial
services in
one day after
mowing half
the lawn, a
20-minute nap
that turned into
three hours,
sitting on
the hill
drinking coffee
with darkness
coming on
while 2,000
miles south the
Gulf of
fills with
the black blood
of dinosaurs.

Both John’s new novel, Children of the Sun & Earth and Drive By are now available by credit card from the Hcolom Press web page by clicking here…

henry miller, lawrence durrell, dylan thomas | how way leads to way…

17 05 2010

NOTES from the UNDERGROUND No. 209 | May 17, 2010

How Way Leads to Way…

Henry Miller, Lawrence Durrell, Dylan Thomas…

I’m not sure what I am about to write is about these three authors, the lost art of letter writing, (the crackling prose of Thomas evident his correspondence), or the Greek Isles.

I came upon this book of Thomas’ letters in a library sale months ago and never opened it till last week. First surprise: Thomas had a connection to Miller, who was a staggering early influence upon me as a writer. (I smuggled copies of his banned TROPIC OF CANCER and TROPIC of CAPRICORN out of Mexico in 1958.)

Miller led me in time to Durrell and his work—THE BLACK BOOK. But more importantly, his ‘travel’ masterpieces, especially REFLECTIONS ON A MARINE VENUS about the Greek island of Rhodes, which eventually drew me there, to the village of Lindos in 1976, renting a small white house ‘up above’ like all the houses in the village, cascading down to the blue harbor with a balcony overlooking the Mediterranean.

There has never been a better ‘travel writer’ than Durrell. Here he is on the village of Lindos, the island of Rhodes:

“Doubling back about a quarter of a mile before Calato you come across Lindos through a narrow gulley of rock. It is as if you had been leaning against a door leading to a poem when suddenly it swings open letting you stumble directly into the heart of it…Lindos with its harbor lies below you…all but landlocked and the blue of it drenches you like a spray.”

Thomas is an added bonus to all this, as you will see in his letter. —Norbert Blei


December 1938?

Dear Lawrence Durrell,

I would have liked to see you too, after that first short meeting in Anna’s house, in a clean pub with an evening before us and pockets jingling and lots of fire and spit and loud, grand affectations and conceits of Atlases and London coiling and humming: but Caitlin and I went away in a pantomime snow, thrown out at midnight, and we spent the night very coldly and trained back without tickets to charity in the morning. Now this warmth is ending, and we’ll train back without tickets to London and live there in a bad convention.

I think England is the very place for a fluent and fiery writer. The highest hymns of the sun are written in the dark. I like the grey country. A bucket of Greek sun would drown in one colour the crowds of colours I like trying to mix for myself out a grey flat insular mud. If I went to the sun I’d just sit in the sun; that would be very pleasant but I’m not doing it, and the only necessary things I do are the things I am doing. Unless by accidents, and my life is planned by them, I shall be nearer Bournemouth than Corfu this summer. It will need a nice accident for us to live anywhere: we are stages beyond poverty; completely possessionless; and we are willing but angry; we can take it but we don’t want it. I liked your Stygian prose very very much, it’s the best I’ve read for years. Don’t let the Greek sun blur your pages as you said it did. You use words like stones, throwing, rockerying, mossing, churning, sharpening, bloodsucking, melting, and a hard firewater flows and rolls through them all the time…. And it’s so brave too; you used the sudden image of Christ with incredible courage. I mean to borrow the typescript of the Black Book as soon as I get to London.

But I wonder what Anna will make of Miller’s books. I know her well. Morals are her cup of tea, and books are just beer: she swallows them down without discrimination of taste or body or brew, and judges them by the effect they have on her bowels. For her a good book produces a bad poem from her, containing an independent moral judgement, but the poem could really have been written without the book. And I think it insulting to books to take them as a purgative in order to void material which, with a little constriction of the muscles, could have been voided anyway. My own book isn’t nearly ready. I am keeping it aside, unfinished, and writing off, now, the things which would be detrimental to it if I were to continue. You said on the back of the envelope that you wanted a poem for a special number; I have one I can send but Miller, in his letter, said he did not know when two prose pieces of mine would appear, owing to some unexplained difficulties, and it’s rather silly, isn’t it, sending you stuff to keep and not to print. But do tell me; I’d love to send you the poem of course.

Dylan Thomas

Lawrence Durrell was two years older than Dylan. They had met a year or so earlier, but did not know each other at all well. Dylan at this TIME admired Durrell’s writing, particularly the Black Book which had been published in Paris earlier that year. Later, as will be seen, he was to have second thoughts.

Durrell had come to London with Henry Miller, another writer whom Dylan greatly admired. They were at that time editing an English language magazine in Paris together, originally called The Booster and later Delta.

[from Selected Letters of DYLAN THOMAS, Edited and with commentary by Constantine Fitzgibbons, New Directions, 1965]

norbert blei | readings by norbert blei & music by jim spector

12 05 2010

Readings by Norb Blei & Music by Jim Spector

Tracklist: Door in Winter: December Entries: 1. 29th Going for Milk 2. 30th A Remberance of Red 3. 31th The White Path 4. Christmas Eve in Door

All selections from DOOR STEPS © 1996 ELLIS PRESS, P.O. Box 6, Granite Falls, MN 56241

The Quiet Time: Door County in Winter. Readings from Norb Blei’s DOOR STEPS (The Days, The Seasons) Original music for guitar by Jim Spector.

In five seasonal essays and a daybook of 365 entries, Norbert Blei records the passing of days and seasons in Door County, in his life, in our lives.

A delicate balance between the rugged Door terrain and the author’s inner landscape, the entries of DOOR STEPS (the second book in Blei’s Door County trilogy, which also includes DOOR WAY and DOOR TO DOOR) range from objective, almost naturalistic observations to pure poetry.

Jim Spector is best known for his passionate solo flamenco recordings and his inspired concert performances. He has arranged, composed and recorded the soundtracks to award-winning documentary films and music from his compact disc recording “Flamenco Passions” (DCV002, Door Couniy Voices) has been featured on American Airlines. In this collaboration with Norbert Blei, the text provided the images to inspire a musical setting for sensitive, evocative readings.

Produced by Door County Voices, a division of Open Door Productions, Inc., P.O. Box 517, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235. Readings performed by Norbert Blei. Original music composed and recorded by Jim Spector. Recorded at Sound Fanners, Sturgeon Bay, WI. Produced by Mark Thiede. Executive Producer: Cy Rosenthal. Photography by Dan Hatton.

Much more on Norbert Blei can be found on his web sites: Norbert Blei & Basho’s Road & N.B. Coop News

Editors note: This recording was originally released as cassette and is not longer available. Norbert Blei was so kind to send me one of the very last un-played tapes. Digitalized as mp3 in 320kps | 44100hz | Stereo quality by Markus Mayer in Vienna, Austria.

If you are interested in buying this digitalized tape, please click here…

hana hegerovà | rozvod | for norbert

7 05 2010

Mráz držím v dlaních, svět zůstal stát.
V hodinách ranních nemohu spát.
Jediné slůvko rozdělilo nás.

Říkala jsem ti “mluvko”
a pojednou je tu zticha hráz.

To ty jsi se rozhod jako muž
a pravý chlap a řekl jsi:
“Rozvod, nechci jít dál podle starých map.”

Už ani nevím, kdy to bylo.
Přišlo to jako malá smrt.
Nejspíš byla zima, venku lilo
a jestli v nás z naší lásky zbylo aspoň čtvrt,
tak teď nezbylo už vůbec nic
jak po světle letních létavic.
Jen to jediné slůvko.

Co bude dál? Spát budeš sám.
Čas dal, čas vzal. Prázdný je krám.
On vyprodal náš první bál,
rok kdesi stál a čekával.
Tvé dotyky lehké jak sníh,
smích putyky, co zná náš první hřích.
Náš pokojík v tom poschodí,
kam pikolík už nechodí.
Co bude dál, co bude dál, co bude dál?

Soud soudí zločiny.
Proč máme k němu jít?
Tam vzdát se rodiny a zachovat klid?
Kdo zná nás víc než já a ty,
tvůj rub i líc, mé trampoty?
Čí bude stůl, čí bude skříň?
Chtěl jsi vždy půl, já, já jsem chtěla míň.
A teď nechci nic.
Chci vědět jen, jak dětem říct ten divný sen.
Co bude dál, co bude dál, co bude dál?

Mlčky jsi stál i ty ses bál říct: “Rozvod.”