Friday, July 1, 2011

Marthe Reed and Proust

In the end, the beginning, in the beginning, an end. If not: . . . extreme middle condition. Thus, poetry.

For my month of editing Truck I have asked nearly two dozen poets to send me a recent poem along with a much earlier poem or text to be placed in apposition. Their poems needn't respond to the earlier poems, I told them, though they may. They needn't even refer to the earlier poem. Perhaps their poem, I suggested, generally reminded them of the spirit of a Renaissance lyric (I encouraged the use of much earlier poems), then they might wish to find one which had a similarity to "the essence they had in mind," as they say.  But any interesting apposition would have been fine.The reason is obvious but boring: that Truck's heft in July, however light in the seismic scheme of things, might act as a counterweight to the notion that significant writing began only a few decades ago, as a slight corrective to poets (mostly, but not invariably, young) who seem unconcerned with writing in their own language(s) prior to the lives of their grandparents, if not their parents. Chaucer and Shakespeare, not to mention Pound and Williams, are simply not worth their time. Perhaps many don't even consider the issue when not confronted by degree requirements. (The same I realize might be said of many in my generation--early boomers--who had no interest in classical literature.) Obvious but boring.

I'd like to begin (or end, if you read a scroll like monks) my month of editing Truck, with a piece by a good friend and fine poet, Marthe Reed, whose work arises from a passage of Proust's Swann's Way. Because of the nature of Marthe's poem, today I am posting a section from Swann's Way first. (Usually I will post the recent poet's work first.)

from Swann's Way

I gazed at her, at first with that gaze which is not merely a messenger from the eyes, but in whose window all the senses assemble and lean out, petrified and anxious, that gaze which would fain reach, touch, capture, bear off in triumph the body at which it is aimed, and the soul with the body; then (so frightened  was I lest at any moment my grandfather and father, catching sight of the girl, might tear me away from her, by making me run on in front of them) with another, an unconsciously appealing look, whose object was to force her to pay attention to me, to see, to know me. She cast a glance forwards and sideways, so as to take stock of my grandfather and father, and doubtless the impression she formed of them was that we were all absurd people, for she turned away with an indifferent and contemptuous air, withdrew herself so as to spare her face the indignity of remaining within their field of vision… (Montcrieff trans., pp 76-79)


['the gaze']
          --Marthe Reed

that gaze
the body at which it is aimed
unconsciously appealing

came to me
exquisitely painful
unknown world

some memory
rendered inaccessible
a little girl

already the charm
to conquer,  to cover, to embalm
so sufficed

she would rise
a pleasure which I 
could not fail

its wake
bowing the head
I would imagine

some message
plated, honeycombed, yellowed,

threads of gold-
the afternoon sky
we never saw her alone


Marthe Reed has published two books, Gaze (Black Radish Books) and Tender Box, A Wunderkammer with drawings by Rikki Ducornet (Lavender Ink), as well as three chapbooks, post*cards: Lafayette a Lafayette (with j/j hastain), (em)bodied bliss and zaum alliterations, all as part of the Dusie Kollektiv Series.  Her poetry has appeared in New American Writing, Golden Handcuffs Review, New Orleans Review, HOW2, MiPoesias, Big Bridge, Moria, Fairy Tale Review, Exquisite Corpse, The Offending Adam, Galatea Resurrects, and Eoagh, among others.  Her manuscript, an earth of sweetness dances in the vein, was a finalist in Ahsahta Press’ 2006 Sawtooth Poetry Contest.  She has guest edited an issue of Ekleksographia and served as assistant editor for Dusie Kollektiv.

Praise for Gaze:


1 comment:

  1. A warm welcome to the wheel, Skip. Looks like July will be hot, hot, hot! Every continued success, Frank