Sunday, April 11, 2010

Anne Carson's Nox is a Manifesto of a Slow Poetics

I understand that at AWP in Denver that the Flarfists and Conceptualists have taken over and that is fine I just hope that they left some beer for the rest of us? Flarf and Conceptual poetry are about fast. The speed in which poetry can be created from the collage of the world and fused with the torrent that is our life today. You have to give those people credit because they are responding with art that is innovative and interesting.

In this age of iPads and Kindles many of us who are invested in the book as an object are feeling that our passion is becoming as passe as Dance Cards or Virginity. The idea that bookstores and printed books may no longer exist is chilling but we fear that it may also be true.

So Saturday, I went to Seminary Coop in Chicago's "elite" Hyde Park neighborhood the home area of our Socialist president Barack Obama (Irony and Scorn here) to buy some real printed paper books. Of course in Hyde Park their are elitists but most of those are not Socialists they are heart surgeons. I had a chance to talk to Jack Cella the boss of this subversive establishment who also has the virtue of being a White Sox fan and he pointed me to a book that is more of an art object Anne Carson's Nox.

I tend to shy away from Canadian writers. They tend to be intimidating like Lemon Hound Sina Queyra or Christian Bok but Anne Carson has always been loved by poets whom I love and so I took a look. Nox is quite a book. Unlike anything I consume on my i Phone Anne Carson's Nox requires time. Her book is like a fine meal in a provincial Italian city rather than a cheeseburger eaten in the car off the seat next to you.

"I wanted to fill my elegy with light of all kinds. But Death makes us stingy"

The book is in a fine box and it costs only $29.00 so someone at New Directions is not getting a bonus this year because this book must have cost allot to make. Nox is an elegy for Carson's brother and the whole book is filled with collage it is almost as if Ezra Pound and Joseph Cornell got together and made a book. The object makes one want to sit and peruse it and then your creative juices flow and you see that her elegy is meant to force us all to write.

"repent means the pain again"

This book is filled with collage shots, poetry of Catullus, Mary Magdalene, scripture and like a secular breviary it unfolds and her grief fills the room but also her artistry and slowness.
In many ways Carson's Nox is a manifesto of "Slow Poetry" like Slow Food it calls on us to stop and to listen, savor--- to actually touch the poetry and to ask ourselves if the poetry created by cut up or internet or Kindle or i Pad is really better or just different? Carson is doing something that has not been done recently, except by Eleni Sikeliano's California Poem she has created a poetic geography that makes one stop to listen to what she is saying.

I think that slowness is something Poets are yearning for just look at the fashion of Lorine Niedecker recently is there any poet who embodies slow poetics more?? I think that by losing slowness and downplaying opaqueness poetry has become more gimmick than art in Nox Carson avoids that trap. Now if we could just get the FlarfistConceptualists to do the same to slow down a little and force us to spend time with the work then maybe the next big thing in poetry could begin again?

So go out and buy Nox by Anne Carson, turn off your i Phone, shut down the computer and sit on the couch with a cup of coffee or a shot of grappa and read it... slowly

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