Monday, December 20, 2004

There’s actually an article interesting beyond the casual in the new Poets & Writers, on Cid Corman by Clayton Eshleman. (Q: Did somebody blog this already? Somebody may have, but my memory is so bad my impression to that effect is in no way indicative either way of reality.)

In any case, the article is very worth reading. Eshleman has an admirably clear-eyed view of his mentor-disciple relationship with Corman, getting to the vital part of what was obviously difficult, years-long, and full of silences and misunderstood motivations along the way, on both sides of the relationship. There’s something grim & heartbreaking in the anecdote of him pretending to be a female poet just to test his suspicion that Corman is biased against him, Eshleman, as part of the dynamic of their relationship; carrying on a correspondence with Corman and sending him poems (which get warmly accepted at Corman’s journal, origin, more than proving his suspicion) before letting the matter drop, though in a way which lends itself, over time, to detection (he publishes the poems in a book under his own name, eventually). I have had a relationship like this with an elder poet, though its peculiarities are/were its own, distinct from the strangenesses of intimacy and isolation Eshleman describes. Not that I’d ever actually even think of something so devious as the above subplot, but I can absolutely sympathize. It can be uncomfortable, trying to figure out what someone thinks of you, to be always mentally solving for the varying variable of their ‘true’ evaluation.

And check out these two poems by Corman (who sounds like an interesting guy, separate from the drama touched on above) Eshleman quotes:

The cicada
singing isn’t:
that sound’s its life.


What brought
you here will
take you hence.

I really like the way each relies on its own inferred meaning for punch. The referents are, strangely, the most forceful words. And isn't there something in the way the possessive & apostrophisation rules play out in the final line of the cicada poem ("sound's its") truly weird? The momentary puzzlement of my/the eye over that contributes to the blunt strangeness of the point it's making.

I’ll read more Corman (such as Alexander Library &/or the internet provide), because of these. I may even break down and actually use one of these as an epigraph for my ms, they’re both so good. But that may be the beerlike-excerpt-goggles speaking. We’ll see.

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