Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Men, Like A Six Year Old Boy Looking for His Mother


In the fall of 2006 I hauled my corpulent frame up to a loft space in the formerly artsy Chicago neighborhood of Wicker Park to attend the 60th Anniversary Party of the Chicago Review a magazine by the way that I still have not been able to get a poem into but that is my own personal Cross to bear.

The evening was as usual at poetry events amid the Faux poets and the “intellectuals” and all the poetic posing there was a reading by Lisa Robertson- a poet and a person whose poetic project is challenging to say the least.
Poet Robertson was the only female asked to read at this event her book The Men is the best answer to that oversight or perhaps that was the plan of the organizers? I bought a copy of her book The Men, and over a period of time during business trips and while eating alone my lunch I have retreated from my life and mind to enter for a moment hers’.

Lisa Robertson is the kind of poet who male poets say they like- and in fact they hate deeply. In Dr Zhivago Mr Komarovsky says that people pretend to admire Pasha when if fact they despise him because he is high minded and pure and he breeds discontent in women- Poet Robertson does the same for men.

Lisa Robertson’s poetic project breeds unhappiness in male poets because she cannot be dismissed. There are allot of female poets out there that male poets pretend they like and admire when in fact they are being condescending and really ignoring their work. Lisa Jarnot, Alice Notley, Rae Armentrout are easy for male poets to admire because they do not make men uncomfortable in a quiet way-- you can conveniently forget that they are female because their work is excellent and you can gloss over the female part- we can effectively neuter these female poets and get away with more ignorance. These are great poets but they are not removing our vein’s and skin and doing an autopsy while we are still alive.

Lisa Robertson is not that easy to like and that is why her book The Men is so disturbing to those of us who are male and who do not want really to reflect of what that means. .
As I read the book I felt like I had gone back to the caves at Altamira and instead of having Clayton Eshelman or Robert Creeley as my guide I was being guided and chastised by the Venus of Willinsdorf.

“Men sweet and smooth
Men auditorily ignored
Men by virtue of men
Following men
Make me tremble”


Here in this book on page 10 of this 60 page poem Robertson deconstructs 35,000 years of maleness. All of it; cave painting, hunting, husbandry is melted away and we are left with a blank Altamira and questions about our deep internal encoded falseness.

Later of page 17 this line again tears off my skin

The
Men are enjambed.”

Talk about taking Homer out and giving him a good kick in the balls. I am sure from Heaven Helen of Troy is sending down Laurels to Robertson.

As we are sucked into Robertson’s world we are faced with this

Whence men that achieve both
Clarity and embellishment, sur-embroidered
With clandestine emotion
Goya painted their eyes
Into women
Thus
The psychic life
Of Pigment”

This book has no rest and no throw away lines and if you want to dismiss it as a rant you are a fool. Most ‘feminist poetry’ can easily be ignored because it is so obvious about it project and we can shut it off-- but Robertson is deconstructing civilization. Her poetry does to maleness what the discovery of Sumerian myths did to the Bible. Before we had Enuma Elish or The Epic of Gilgamesh we thought that the Bible was unique after we learned the languages we learned that the Bible is really a collection of collective myths changes and varied but that it dwells in a pool of sacred writing that is old and unique to Mesopotamia rather than to Canaan. Really all of it was stolen and hijacked makes it less unique and less self important.

What Robertson’s book does is the same for poetry. Forgive this large quote but if it causes you to run out and buy this book then it is worth it;

“They elaborate cognition. In this way I arrive at the
Thought of them. Increasingly their oxygen is my own
And I in my little coloured shoes to please them. Their
Revolution is permanent and mine a decoration. When
The trees smear their sky, when their poems are the periphery of the west
When they swim from their silver docks, I swim too and we communicate
In water. This was September, there were three of us and one was
A man. I feel passionately about their gardens”

The Men takes Chartres, Roman Legions, the Terra Cotta Warriors of Xian and blows them up into powder. When people write that poetry is not relevant and it cannot transform - I will tell them to buy this book it left me wetting my pants like a six year old scared and looking for my mother.

8 comments:

Pirate Poet said...

It's a gimmick. That is why it is hard to like. Good male poets. You can forget that they are male. Lisa Robertson. If you can't forget who she is, she is a persona and not a poet. The Weather is good. The Men is bad. She is a good poet sometimes.

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