In contrast to the future that is displayed by Aharonian, Fanny Howe's Winter Sun tells us where we have been. Howe's collection of essays is a description of writing and poetry as a vocation which is something that is not really a truism for most poets and writers today.
One of the goals of Modernism was in Pound's phrase to "Make it New." No place in the world is more an embodiment of this mentality than Brasilia the faux city that was made to give Brazil a new capital. The city was built out of Oscar Niemeyer's vision of what a Modernist capital would look like and almost immediately the realities of the world smudged the clean rough edges.
Brazilian writer Joao Almino has been one of the most important chroniclers of this smudging. He has in his book the five season of love created a 'Romance' which is a the Brazilian word for novel. But in many ways this book is an Anti-Romance and a distopia. The love is cold and hard, the edges are rough and broken and this book deconstructs the Modernist's ideals to show us how empty we are. Ana/Diana from the five season of love embodies emptiness and questing of our time.
my vocabulary did this to me
The Collected Poetry if Jack Spicer
Edited by Peter Gizzi and Kevin Killian
Wesleyan U Press
Contemporary poets have created a Pantheon of poetic God's. In this Pantheon are many poets whose work is so important that it dwarfs much of what is written today. In that pantheon one poet whose entire output is small has continued to be included, Jack Spicer. The volume of his Collected poetry masterfully assembled by Peter Gizzi and Kevin Killian is less than 500 pages. It shows to contemporary poets and readers what a poet could be in mid 1950's America.
Ron Silliman, who has never preferred brevity to verbosity, said that this book is one of the most important books of poetry written in the past 50 years and I think he is correct. Here is a book that even an unemployed poet like myself can read and feel filled with the creativity and the sense of vocation. While Howe in her book gives us the Dénouement of this epoch here is the epoch is full flower as if we are seeing Solomon in all his splendor.
Out of destruction comes new life. When the old Roman Empire rotted away we got Hagia Sophia, Gregorian Chants, Gothic Architecture, Averroes, the Alhambra, and Rumi. These products of the rot lead to a new world. It appears that is what is happening here in our current Roman Empire. I have found meaning in these books and they have helped me to understand what is happening to our world both poetically and spiritually.
I do not think that when Augustine, Boethius or Cassiodorus were writing they realized that they were setting the stage for what was to come next. But I think that these books do something of what these late Antique/early Medieval authors did. They realize that we are entering something new and perhaps more simple. I think that this simplicity and coldness is going to be part of our future and I will return to these four books often for guidance on the way forward.