Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The Binding Secret

Been reading Seamus Heaney's essay 'Hughes and England' in the Keith Sagar (ed)
'The Achievement of Ted Hughes' (Manchester University 1983). Found one blazing summers day in a thrift store (or Oxfam to us brits) in Teignmouth, Devon. As usual i had irritably waded through the poetry section, found nothing and had staggered/flounced back out onto the pavement to blister my very retinas with the unrelenting assault of The Sun, while counting my new collection of ill fitting, gawdy second hand shirts and cursing Betejamin. Cara's hawk eyes re-scanned the shelves and found this gem of a collection. So Heaney talks of T.S. Eliot's idea of "the auditory imagination' and this quote i wanted to share:

"i presume Eliot was thinking here about the cultural depth-charges found in certain words and rhythms, that binding secret between words in poetry that delights not just the ear but the whole backward and abysm of mind and body; thinking of the energies beating in and between words that the poet brings into half -deliberate play."

That binding secret. What a great phrase.

A woman that knows something about the binding secret is Katherine Rauk, out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Katherine, a finalist in the Black Lawrence Press competition, has an economy of line that makes every image more expansive, and at that same time selects ebullent phrases that are speedy doors into huge kingdoms of sensation. Like a Mexican surrealist writing a Haiku.

She comes from a family of lunatics: raised on champagne, Picasso's cigar smoke and the lonesome keening of the she-wolf. (uncle Duncan has wandered snowy wastes following the tracks of the Wolverine whilst muttering old Sufi chants to himself, father Erik hung out with James Wright and has spent a frankly indecent amount of time in the deserts and backwoods of the U.S. polishing his mind into some falcon -like and playful arrow.) So she brings trouble with her.

We hear rumours of a freshly- born babe, so all at the School of Myth send much love and congratulations to babe, Katherine, handsome husband, and all assorted Storlie- Rauks everywhere. Hunt down Eriks 'Notes on a Friendship with James Wright' (Five Points: A Journal of Literature and Art, Vol. II, No. 3, 2007)

Enough of my yakking. Here's one from her bow:

How many hours in a peach
that swallows light
like a woman with her secret
windows, each pain a glass
which opens onto orchards
sown with how many
bites of time?
How many minutes in the room
where rain is born
with her sudden bouquet of hands
which flattens furrows
hewn in foreheads
and presses how many
thumbprints in the grass?
How many seconds in a question
seeded in the dirt
as when the peach’s ribbed pit asks
shall I come?
and its tender flesh asks
shall I go?

Here's the only man i could find to follow that today, Robert Bringhurst.


These poems she said

These poems, these poems,
these poems, she said, are poems
with no love in them. These are the poems of a man
who would leave his wife and child because
they made noise in his study. These are the poems
of a man who would murder his mother to claim
the inheritance. These are the poems of a man
like Plato, she said, meaning something I did not
comprehend but which nevertheless
offended me. These are the poems of a man
who would rather sleep with himself than with women,
she said. These are the poems of a man
with eyes like a drawknife, with hands like a pickpocket's
hands, woven of water and logic
and hunger, with no strand of love in them. These
poems are as heartless as birdsong, as unmeant
as elm leaves, which if they love love only
the wide blue sky and the air and the idea
of elm leaves. Self-love is an ending, she said,
and not a beginning. Love means love
of the thing sung, not of the song or the singing.
These poems, she said. . . .
You are, he said,
That is not love, she said rightly.

Robert Bringhurst, in The Beauty of the Weapons: Selected Poems, 1972-82
Copper Canyon Press, 1982

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