Tuesday, October 30, 2007

the sky position - tom blood

"Poetry, even when apparently most fantastic, is always a revolt against artifice, a revolt, in a sense, against actuality."
james joyce

I received this book by Tom Blood, former portland poetic comrade of mine, about a year ago, for the purpose of doing a review. Okay, I realize that a year seems like a long time, especially considering the size of the book, coming in at 80 pages in quarter-book size. So I must apologize to Marriage Records, and ask that they take a moment to hear my case.

I first heard Tom Blood read in portland at a reading that I hosted called the subterranean beat revival. it was a basement bar reading, clouded with smoke and the poets were mostly ex slam gone beat poets, performing with the backing of live jazz. it was not an any way predictable, but after it's honeymoon, it was just another reading, with just some more poets. then Tom Blood came in.

he took the stage in an awkward manner, spoke in stuttered phrasing, moved in a robotic fashion, stepping around the stage as if in some sort of line dance induced haze and spouted the most provocative and surreal poetry that i have ever heard. he was captivating, from all points. performance, voice, and he was reading what i can only describe as true poetry. no pandering. no cliche. just simple, fucked up truth. i was amazed, and still am to this day. i asked Tom for a book, and he gave me a short stack of papers clipped together with an industrial paper clip. the cover had two green velvet dots on it. no words. i asked him what the title was and he looked at me sincerely and said..."two dots". okay.

the book was passed from friend to friend for months and every person exclaimed the founding of a portland genius. then tom seemingly disappeared. i never heard much from him. then, about two years later i find that tom blood has a new book, the sky position, published by marriage records. there is a call for reviews so i contact marriage, with much excitement, in hopes of reviewing this book. they send me a copy of the book with it's cdr companion, and this is where a journey began. here it is in short:

i began reading dylan thomas when i was roughly 12 years old. the film dead poets society was my introduction and the darkness of do not go gentle into that good night grabbed my chubby ass like priest during lent. beyond that poem, though, thomas left me lost, clamoring for understanding in a sea of thick metaphor. of course i would quote him and pretend i knew what poetry was, but truly i only knew the words. then, 15 years later, i am reading through a collected thomas edition, and it clicks. i stand up and grab angela exclaiming, "I GET IT, I GET DYLAN THOMAS!" here is a lifetime worth of work, why then it would take me any less than 16 years to get it. james joyce said of finnegan's wake, "it took me twelve years to write it, it should take you twelve years to read it." exactly jimmy. so now here i am holding tom blood's new book. an expert on dylan thomas, wink wink, i should understand any poetry at first read.


again, no no no.

this book has plagued me for a year now, looming over my bookshelf as a constant reminder of my poetic inadequacies. it is my raven, repeating "you're a moron" in lieu of "nevermore". i had tried to listen to the cd, in my home, alone, no distractions, and still nothing. a lot of people would have written it off and moved on, but i am not a lot of people, no, i am a compulsive asshole who will not be bullied by any literature. bring it on "the cantos of ezra pound", you wordy prick, i am ready for you!

so today i decide to break from my studio and take a walk to the cafe. cafes make me think of portland so i go to grab a poetry book, because poetry also makes me think of portland, and there it is, louder than ever "YOU'RE A MORON, YOU'RE A MORON!" tom blood's sky position is challenging me. so i grab it and decide too to take the cd in my walkman. i step out and press play and begin the best walk i have taken in years.

this is true poetry, and i get it. my "short passage through the mechanical universe" is in motion. blood, a traveller, frequent pedestrian, is really just taking notes as he moves through the day. it makes sense now. i swear, it made me feel that i have been walking with my eyes closed for a very long time when i heard him reading these words. i used to see like this daily. it used to be my life, to observe, and beyond observe, test the waters of daily life. take note of the telephone poles and their obesity. so i reread the book in a very short time when i got to the cafe. the poems are powerful in that they assume no authority, the assume no power over life. it is simply tom's way of saying, "i am watching, and fucking closely, and i am telling everyone, world!"

i would recommend to any lover of poetry and/or challenges, to order a copy today. order two and gift one to somebody in need of a reminder that the world exists outside of text messages and myspace. tom blood has put together a grand mystery and i have unriddled his tongue. you can order a copy here.