Saturday, April 02, 2005

The most recent New Yorker has a fantastic article on Basquiat (by Peter Schjeldal). I haven't been to this most recent show, but I love the man's paintings. That self-removed-from-engrossed-self is, well, engrossing. It is the quality above any other that teases motion out of a canvas, though there isn't any technical way of describing it that I'm aware of. And what all the great painters have, of whatever style they engage in, from David to Rembrandt to, yes, Warhol--they keep the canvas moving. (not that I'm saying Warhol is 'Great,' in my opinion, but he's always fun to look at, and very much alive.)

The same goes with poets in a way. They keep the poem moving, the parts related dynamically--I don't mean dramatically, by the way, when I say dynamically. This quality's primacy is why criticism, especially school-centered criticism, can only at best half-answer to a poem's manifest poemness, in my opinion, as exciting and satisfying as such criticism can be to read while you're reading it. Not that schools aren't important and necessary, they are needed to both free and pattern a poet's ability to engage with her/his craft; but they have such minor predictive value. They aren't so close to the present as perception is, to reality.

Anyway, I remember first seeing Basquiat's work, at the Whitney retrospective in (I think) 1992 (it may have been 2 years before or after). Absolutely blew my mind. If you can get to this one, I'd highly suggest it. And also love to hear how it was.

On another note, regarding Robert Creeley dying, I've been very affected by it. Other poets I've admired have died, and they have seemed public in their dying. But Creeley, despite his age, feels like a contemporary. I mean that as a compliment, obviously. He's not 'just' some writer who occupies a niche in the evolution of American poetry--he really was right there with you, in the poems. And it seems strange somehow that he can die, being ageless like that.

I remember reading "I know a man" in 1993, in an undergrad workshop--a classmate was pretty excited about the New Testament symbolism, and going on about it, and I was like, no, that has nothing to do with it, look how these lines move! He really was such a good poet, and I'm grateful for what he wrote. Rest in peace, indeed, gone-back-where-you-came-from.

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