I think it’s too late
to make this poem
into a specific traffic (pall
of bright melancholy)
to know where I falls
on the inside or outside of time/space
too late — the marked
of the land has
submitted its own
dream & question
– Eleni Sikelianos
Language would be easier if we could remove the prepositions but then the objects and subjects would be difficult to discern. Like I said, in my career as a writer—I know it suspect for poets to speak of career—I find myself more attractive as an object. If I am the object then who is the subject? Unnecessary.
– Rachel Levitsky
This passage sounds like it comes from an essay or an interview or some kind of thinkpiece, but it’s in the middle of a poem from Neighbor. This straightforward Rachel Levitsky voice comes in from time to time, addressing the means and motives of the project, how she feels about it, etc. Like a note to herself that she forgot to take out. This book is managing a balance between rawness and purposeful construction that I’m really enjoying—maybe a mimic of the same balance between self and Neighbor/Other, that strange relationship wherein you are formal and polite with someone, yet share some degree of intimacy. I live in a duplex, and sometimes we hear the neighbors’ baby crying, which sounds a lot like our cat crying. I hear them most often when in the bathroom, which is the closest point between our two apartments, the thinnest wall, the most personal space to be in when you hear your neighbors talking. To share a house or a neighborhood is to share some kind of daily experience, putting your body near to another body. Under the circumstances / suburbia / this makes me more interested in parts of my thesis.
I read another book earlier in the day that I was not nearly as excited about. I read it, and it didn’t make me think about anything at all. I guess I thought That was a book but I’m not sure that counts. I’m interested, mostly, in books that enact the ideas they’re writing about.
Where is my dead one?
Shape makes life too small.
But I needed borders to do the remembering,
needed them to get the package out of there.
Who would get the package out
if I had no borders. I needed them
in order to be anything at all—
– Brenda Hillman
I, uh, finally finished reading My Life yesterday. That’s embarrassing. I’m a slow reader when it comes to poetry, but I’m usually not that slow. Winter break and driving to Missouri and coming back and my parents and sister visiting sort of slowed it up. I can see why my thesis advisor recommended it—personal, sentence-focused, image-based, anaphoric. My heart loves a book with a good heart beat.
It was hard to digest all at once, though, even considering all the things that got in my way. It’s not that long, page-wise, but very dense. I prefer to read poetry books all in one sitting, much like B likes to listen to whole albums. I’m interested in the whole of the thing. It bothers me when poets talk about reading other poets piecemeal, or out of order. I feel like there’s a certain respect you pay to the writer and the way they used sequencing, at least the very first time you’re reading the work. I’m also really big on following the rules, so.
My Life was like all the materials that make up a building, but not the building itself. Not a building as in a narrative, but as in a shape. I don’t know. I like architecture. I think I like it because it follows the rules of reality, but sometimes you can look at it and wonder how it possibly follows the rules of reality.
[groin vaulting at Saint Denis Cathedral]
While sitting on the couch, doing a practice read-through of the poems for this Friday’s reading, I realized I was tapping one foot along with the rhythm. Like my mom does when she’s playing the cello.