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Animated Landscape by Robert Gibbons Reviewed

 

Robert Gibbons, Animated Landscape, BlazeVox, 2016, 146 pp, $16.

Speaking recently at the Gloucester Writers Center, poet and Olson scholar Don Byrd advised poets who are inspired by Charles Olson not to attempt to follow him because Olson was uniquely unfollowable. Rather, Byrd said, they should attempt to move beyond Olson with their own work, as the poet himself had done with respect to his own masters, Pound and Williams.  

Among poets who have learned from Olson while forging their own unique path, Robert Gibbons stands out. Though widely published and admired among poets, scholars of poetry, critics, and curators of contemporary art, Robert Gibbons has been less known to discerning readers of new American poetry. This is about to change with the publication by BlazeVox of Animated Landscape, Gibbon’s major new collection of poems. Those who care about the life of poetry in a time when there are many MFAs in verse but fewer poets who appeal directly to the human condition should attend to what Richard Deming calls Gibbons’ “universal and inclusive vision.”  

Gibbons’ poetry is informed not only by the crucial texts he’s read and internalized—Kristeva, Davenport, Olson himself— but also by the music and visual art that has animated his life and work—the jazz of Coltrane, the inventions of Bach, the paintings of Clyfford Still (about whom he has written incisively in Olson/Still: Crossroad)—along with the walks he has taken daily in the places he’s lived—Gloucester, MA, Salem, Washington, DC, Boston, Portland, ME, and now Denver—bringing them to life and into his pages through conversations with those he has encountered going about their daily business, as Gibbons has gone about his as both secret sharer and astute observer. His is a poetry that is as intensely lived as it is informed by a poised intelligence; a poetry of the heart and mind, where intellect and feeling do not conflict but, instead, fuse into incandescence, as Gibbons writes: “where senses reach an/intoxicated height, where air alone is/magic, silence music, touch between/us dispelling all dread.” 

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Kristina Marie Darling and John Gallaher: The TNB Self-Interview

 

kmd-jg

 

What are three things you want the reader to know about GHOST / LANDSCAPE?

KMD: In the poems, you’ll find a bank robbery, a lock on the door, and a freezer we keep forgetting we keep in the basement. One (and only one) of these things is real.

Now that you’ve entered the landscape, don’t follow the paths that seem most clearly marked. They’ll lead you further away from the guesthouse (and the truth about the ghost).

Lastly, and most importantly, the conference we keep referring to was really an elaborate cover-up. Even the panels were just for show.

JG: Things keep changing, you know? One moment the news is on, and it’s such very bad news from so many quarters (1). And then you’re shopping for new shoes (2). Both of these things are honest and true things about living in the world (3).

I was reading something the other day (you might’ve seen it; it was passed around facebook) arguing against the current conception of empathy, that it’s too easily swayed by individuals in crisis and not enough by long-term goals. And it reminded me of an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, where Riker gets turned into a god, and loses his capacity for empathy. Like most things, it’s a negotiation.

 

What does collaboration make possible in your work?

JG: Someone else! I get tired of myself and my way of thinking, and it’s great to get out of that house, go visiting. It’s why we have dinner parties? Something like that. A new context allows for new thinking.

KMD: Absolutely! Collaboration invites a degree of spontaneity into my practice that is just about impossible when I’m writing alone.  I tend to be a control freak, a compulsive planner.  But when you’re writing a book with John, you really never know what he’s going to do.  Which is a good thing.  Well, most of the time.

 

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Tony Trigilio interviewed on Best American Poetry Blog

 

"Eleven Questions for Eleven Poets" Part 1 of the Best American Poetry blog interview! 



Alan Michael Parker interviewed Tony Trigilio
 and 10 other poets (Elizabeth Colen, Carolina Ebeid, Dana Levin, Max Ritvo, David Rivard, Chris Santiago, Lee Sharkey, Clint Smith, Megan Snyder-Camp, and Monica Youn). Everyone talks about their new books coming out this fall.
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Those Godawful Streets of Man by Stephen Bett reviewed

 Today's book of poetry:
Those Godawful Streets of Man: A Book Of Raw Wire In The City.  Stephen Bett.  Blazevox[Books].  Buffalo, New York.  2015.

Stephen Bett is damned sure that none of us is going to get out of this city unscathed.  Those Godawful Streets of Man: A Book Of Raw Wire In The City is a little light when it comes to optimism, this book is a sneer from a mouth full of broken teeth.

Those Godawful Streets of Man (64th St.)

Then there was cousin
Billy (Edinburg)
down the shop
for smokes

Wife & baby daughter
at home for five
minutes

Twenty years later
detective tracked
him in NYC

Heavy-duty
abandonment,
huh

And it's all
about cities
(& borders)

And people really
fucking each
other up

It's cruel as
all get out,
& someone
ought to
die for it

Or lose
heart
(at the
least)

...

In Bett's city someone just played the joker against any chance of a winning hand.  People smear themselves like bloodstains all over their attempts to find love. 

Those that do find love discover just how flawed love can be.  Those Godawful Streets of Man... is an illustrated fall from grace, one gut punch at a time.



___________



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Extra Pages

Photos on flickr