Literarisches Events (in and around Lawrence KS)

  • PATRICIA LOCKWOOD. Lawrence. Thursday, September 11, 7:00 p.m., Spooner Hall, KU Campus.
  • PATRICIA LOCKWOOD. Lawrence. Friday, September 19, 7:00 p.m. Lawrence Public Library. Sponsored by Raven Bookstore.
  • DENNIS ETZEL, JR. & RACHEL CROSS. Lawrence. Thursday, September 25, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.
  • TONY TRIGILIO. Lawrence. Thursday, Oct. 2, 4:00 p.m., English Room, Kansas Union, KU Campus. FREE.
  • CALEB PUCKETT & JUSTIN RUNGE. Lawrence. Thursday, October 16, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.
  • BEN LERNER. Kansas City, MO. Thursday, October 23, 7:00 p.m., Epperson Auditorium, Vanderslice Hall on the KCAI campus, 4415 Warwick Blvd.
  • KRISTIN LOCKRIDGE & ROBERT DAY. Lawrence. Thursday, December 4, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Then cam four grett wodyn/ with four grett clubes all in grene// & with skwybes/ borning -

It's not surprising, mind you, that I would dig Book of the Green Man. I'm a big fan of the Green Man, for one thing. For another, it's an archival poem, bringing together bits of various books, some famous, some obscure, some quoted in context, some not. "I lust after books with a . . . rich silt of bibliography, books which lead to other books," Johnson writes in the head-note. But it's also a Romantic poem, starting out at the Wordsworths' graves, and gradually getting more Blakean on us.

It's a cycle of the seasons, "something circular." It expresses a desire to "catch/ the labyrinthine wind,/ in words - " It is a circular shamanic journey. At the same time, it's very much a poem about gardens and a rather settled English countryside (it was written during a year he and his then-lover Jonathan Williams spent walking around England); the focus on topiary in "Winter" connects J's interest in the vegetative with his architectural design in ARK, "the interweavings/ of man with earth."

Lots of psychedelic muck.

As a leaf startles out
from an undifferentiated mass of foliage,
so the word did form a leaf
A Mirage Of the Delicate Polyglot
inventing itself as cipher.

Analogical, not totally organic, in other words - I sense that Johnson is the "delicate polyglot" here. Ways of seeing. He's really into the Goethean topos of the sun inventing the eye (cf. Allison Cobb in Green-Wood). The light "merges with the eye, with a wing of a sickle-shaped horn."

He uses the word "chryselephantine." To describe the sky (!).

Aside from wanting to read him b/c "I've heard so much about you, Mr. Johnson," and b/c of the geographic connection, I also thought it would be good for me to read a poet who wrote a long poem excluding history (or trying to, anyhow) - given that my own work is so taken up with and in the historical. Yet he manages to avoid the rampant Platonism of a Duncan - spirit really is immanent here - pre-Socratic, heraklitian.

The Oak of the Maze


Lion's shin, oak-limb, tomb:
all acquire
a hundred years'

a winter's pelt - bones

that 'being
striken one against

break out
like fire

& wax greene'.

Mistletoe. Its seeds
within birds -

out of the quickening gut,
it clings to oak.

An aerial


Ivy. Springs out
of earth,
to cover it

with dark, shining leaves.

It is the mythic coat
of an oak -

made of a shining
& dark-
leaved thunder,

& the owls

of its hollows.

There are connections in these

- between an earth, sentient with moles,
& the owl's
radiant eyes -

fine as a web drawn
by spiders,

close as the grain of oak

from earth to mistletoe, ivy & lichen, to owl's-
wing, to thunder to lightning, to earth - & back.

There are many ways

to look at an oak, & one, with its
own eyes:

the blunt, burning push

of acorns

in an earth full

of movements, slight rustlings, as a passage of night-birds,

& bones

that 'being striken one against another

break out like fire

& wax greene.'

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