Tuesday, October 16, 2007
"poetry about poetry is conterfeit poetry" - ferlinghetti
so i just picked up ferlinghetti's latest book, poetry as insurgent art 2007 New Directions clothbound, at left bank books. the price was low, 12.95 for a first pressing hardback poetry book, and the size is in line with ferlinghetti's pocket poets collection he publishes under city lights. i am not sure what i was expecting, as i am never sure what to expect with ferlinghetti's work. he has made it all. poems, plays, journals, paintings, drawings, novels, and i have consumed most with the fervor of a fat kid at an eating contest. this book turned out to be in the same realm, only a little different. let me explain.
it comes in at just under 100 pages, and written in ferlinghetti's signature short line/long breath fashion. consumable. however this seems to be a re-iteration of the definition of poetry, not so much a poem. i say that tenderly as i respect ferlinghetti for his life long pursuit in writing this still unfinished book, but all respect has a level of questioning involved. is this a reminder to the slam filled, safe poetry that has come to light as of late in the mass mind that poetry simply is a suggestion to live. it is not in the face of death as a polite conversation, it is a verbal assault at death's breakfast nook. he (ferlinghetti) seems to announce and renounce his own beliefs,in a whitmanesque yawp, "do i contradict myself? very well, i contradict myself". he reminds us to listen to our own brains and from the sounds that jumble in them, create a song. if there is no sound, buddistically pronounce a grand ohm to the rhythm of the running toilets of our collective conscience. just create a sound.
basil bunting professed that "all poetry is a sound". ferlinghetti says sing. i say buy it from a local bookstore and deduce for yourself. i was quite happy to have populist manifesto in print once again, both #1 and #2 side by side for, what i believe is the first time. it is well worth the 13 bucks.
it takes me back to the time, about four years ago, that i packed up a bag of notebooks, chapbooks of friends' infinite prayers, an old hat and a can of tuna, had angela drop me at the rest stop outside of portland oregon and headed down to san francisco with the intention of meeting ferlinghetti. there is a great telling of the story on a blog of a friend i made on that hitch-hiking excursion, here. i succeeded and to this day, when i am feeling a little lost, i turn off and picture his eyes looking at me, like two marbles in a mudpuddle, rolling in the ecstatic glee that is poetry, telling me that this life is enough for any one man to go mad. just decide if you are angry mad, or crazy mad, and know that while anger is a gift, crazy is a weapon.