Monday, June 20, 2016

Review of Joseph Zaccardi Book/4 Ed Coletti Poems/Delete Punctuation/Bill Murray On Poetry/


Review of Joseph Zaccardi’s A Wolf Stands Alone in Water

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Perhaps knowing that Joseph Zaccardi is a poet of great heart, I first searched out the heart poems in his new brilliant collection  A Wolf Stands Alone in Water: Word Tech CW Books (October 23, 2015) only to immediately also recall how taken I have been by the strength of his mind and his philosophical belief systems. These qualities work beautifully together as in the poem “Speaking in Tongues” where the poet beholds his stepfather dying of cancer, “I promise to be there when it happens,/to kneel in silence. The doctors have given him/a time, and my stepfather holds that time out/at arms length, feels it shrink and expand.”

This entire volume pulses with that intelligent beat of life both expanding and diminishing.  Such is the heart’s unalloyed truth.

Each of Zaccardi’s collections also embody a type of mindful spirituality more of the Eastern sort without in-your-face theology.  The book is divided into five sections preceded by this prologue,

A Kind of Surrender

This morning the last bloom
on the wisteria fell away.
Why is it I close my eyes to music
and open them when there’s a storm?

The section titles  Pain Outside The Body; The Scale That Measures Our Lives; A Map Of Questions; Pain About Damage; and The Wheat Field  present somewhat of an enigma calling out to me to find a common denominator.  Yielding to the challenge, I immediately go to “pain,” but this collection, while it explores pain exquisitely, also checks into the realm of the metaphysical better denoted by the words “measures” and “map.”  And “the wheat field,” at least those words, beckons to me as from a peaceful place of meditation.  This surmise at least in part is borne out in the thought-provoking poem  “Home Front” where “She tries to not think; tries the mind trick of writing/the problem on paper, then locking it away in a drawer.” 

However, she also must wrestle with her active brain, “Arrogant muscle, she says out loud.”  When a friend suggests that “…she make up a color/that doesn’t exist,” metaphysical notions  come to bear with, “…What doesn’t exist? Who can avoid/hearing the news about those killed in action?”  Suddenly, we’ve found ourselves watching warfare on PBS.  She turns off the sound, but  “…She can’t help thinking. Turning back/is a defeat, she’s told. That could be said of friendly fire./What does exist? A question.”

The poem “The Hand” is a most wise one.  It goes far in understanding that earlier jarring section of the book, A Map Of Questions which seems to delve deeply into the issues of great violence.

The Hand

The hand can embrace and crush,
can mold and caress, can be held
or be like the clouds.  The hand is vain
and corrupt, is kind and forgiving,
can draw on a canvas
something vast and beautiful,
can clear-cut a forest, strip a mountain.
Can hold a lie as stiffly as a rod
or truth as loosely as a string.

The aforementioned themes of pain, love (heart),  and metaphysical mystery come together most tellingly in “Infantryman (No Dog Tags).”  This poem, originally published in Spillway, was my introduction to Joseph Zaccardi’s work.  Later, I learned that he had served in Vietnam as a naval air rescue corpsman attempting to save wounded marines in battle.  The poem begins with the graphic lines “I once put my mouth to another man’s mouth/because he could not breathe on his own.”  After failing in his resuscitation attempt, the speaker concludes with the wondrously ambiguous lines, “…I turned onto my back, lying/exhausted next to him. And held his hand/as his body cooled.  The heat from the sun felt good,/but not the hunger not the shame.”  Joseph Zaccardi is also a very brave poet.

Towards the end of the book and in the midst of The Wheat Field,  the poem “Tourniquet” couples another sanguinary image with the metaphysical ocean,  “There is immensity. The sea with its own language/held together and not held together. And the heart/inside the body. Each keeps saying don’t stop.  Again that great Zaccardi heart that keeps beating along with his language of the tides.

On this theme, I will conclude with several lines from “Loss.”

“…The flower obeys the laws/of nature, whether opening in full season/or the wilting in abandonment.”

All is there for the poet.  Beauty, love, loss, pain, and wonder.  A meditation.  Wonderful achievement from a great poet.

Joseph Zaccardi - Born in Newark, New Jersey, poetry came late to Joseph Zaccardi at the age of thirteen. His publications include Vents (Pancake Press 2005), Render (Poetic Matrix Press 2009), and The Nine Gradations of Light (Bark for Me Publications 2013). In 2003 he received an Individual Artist Grant from the Marin Arts Council. He was editor of the Marin Poetry Center Anthology from 2010 thru 2012, has participated in the ROAR program, started by outgoing poet laureate CB Follett, reading poetry to residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. He was appointed Poet Laureate of Marin County, CA in 2013 for a two-year term

Ed Coletti is a poet, painter, fiction writer, and chess player who studied under Robert Creeley in  San Francisco (1970-71).  Ed recently has had work in The Brooklyn Rail, North American Review, Big Bridge, Hawai’i Pacific ReviewSpillway, Lilliput Review, and So It Goes – The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial  Library.   Internet presence includes  his popular blog “No Money In Poetry.”  Coletti’s  book, When Hearts Outlive Minds, was released June 2011. Germs, Viruses, and Catechisms was published by Civil Defense Publications  (San Francisco) during Winter 2013.  The Problem With Breathing from Edwin E. Smith Publications (Little Rock) was published during June 2015.  Apollo Blue’s Harp (and the gods of song) also will be published by Edwin E. Smith in 2016

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4 Ed Coletti Poems

In Meat For Tea: The Valley Review

tea leaf mountain

high up over
rain river gorge
tea women
floating fingers 
pluck fragrant
baby loden
tea leaves before
the sun leaves
another work day
in arrears in
the tea-darkness.

Two Words

These two had arrived vaguely
from within a nap
on a couch in New York
where winter wind blustered
outside in late December

But the two distinct words
“Swedish Acorn” themselves
having nothing to do with the wind
emerged from that doze as though
from a stillness in the womb

“Swedish Acorn”
seed of Scandinavian oak
sense of a future progeny
shifting in Sweden’s soil
waiting for proper conditions

Amour and the Bushman

Hans Taiibosch the Bushman
died-to-life in A Mantis Carol,
by Laurens van der Post,
the very day we lived and died
the film “Amour” and learned
why the word and the principle
dancing inhabits present spirit
as well as absent if ever
absence has anything to do with
dying, the pavanne of it, the dignity
extant in earth’s least dignified moldering
moment from which we sense he, —
with only his ubiquitous arrows,
his painting sticks, his dancing life,
dances as death must be
danced, in his “Dance of the Great Hunger,”
dances, palms up, neck extended,
eyes upward — Hans, seeks  beginning.

His Motivation

Tolstoy’s embrace of peasant life

Where bread tastes sweet as
honey making to the bees

Where indefinable love lives poetic
Where music dances and where dances muse
Where sounds are chimes and birds signify

When he enters such a pregnant glade
the poet Tolstoy in reverie is
blessed enough to freely share his surplus.

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Surprising Interest In and Taste For Poetry By Comedian Bill Murray For 

Read more here:
 Delete Punctuation

This From Pat Nolan at Parole



Delete Punctuation

To: The Membership and Interested Parties
From: Chinee, Grand Poobah, NBBPS
Subject: The Birth Of Modern Poetry
APOLLINAIREstmpOne hundred years ago poetry got modern, and all because of the laziness of one poet. Alcools, a title that is usually translated as Alcohol, but with a meaning closer to “distillation” or “essence.”  And lazy may not be an accurate description of one of the greatest French poets of the early 20th Century.  Looking over the proof pages provided by the printer, Apollinaire realized that the typesetter had got the punctuation horribly balled up (to put it mildly). To extricate his poems from this mélange of arbitrarily arranged graphical signposts was going to be time consuming and costly.  His only other choice was the nuclear option. Handing the proofs back to the printer, he scrawled “delete punctuation” on the fly leaf.  And thus modern poetry was born.
t modern, and all because of the laziness of one poet. That happened when Guillaume Apollinaire picked up the proofs for his book of poems,
This familiar anecdote may be apocryphal, but it is also instructive: innovations can come from seemingly inconsequential decisions. And soon enough there was an orgy of unpunctuated poetry. Likely this could be one of the origins of the term “free verse”. Certainly it encouraged a poetry free from the constraints of periods, semicolons, colons, commas, dashes, and exclamation points, and captured the imagination of young poets bent on overthrowing the established order.
(Read the entire fascinating article here)


Pat Nolan said...

Ed, nice of you to repost that essay. I think the beginning of the text got a little scrambled when you dropped into your blog.

Ed Coletti said...

Thank you, Pat! I've made the correction.

Joe Zaccardi said...

Thanks Ed,

Yours is a beautifully wrought review of my book. I know what you did is not a small thing to do.

Neeli Cherkovski said...

Hey bro!!!

BJ Favoaro said...

Keeping yourself busy after that devastating loss last night? Ugh...

The piece on Bill Murray is fascinating!

Hope all is well with you, Joyce and everyone else...


David Beckman said...

Great Ed. Love it!


Dennis Formento said...

thanks for keeping me on your list, Ed. I crossposted your blog to my FaceBook site. Attaching one of mine.

Katherine Hastings said...

Thanks so much, Ed. It's always good to see Zaccardi's work recognized. I would like to add that some of the stronger poems in A WOLF STAND ALONE IN WATER focus on the complexity of childhood sexual abuse. There is tremendous vulnerability in these poems — a peeling back of the skin that should not be ignored. Zaccardi doesn't just throw these experiences on the page but, while holding on to the difficult subjects at hand, remains focused on poetic craft. Here are the opening lines from "The End of Love":

Daddy says it will not hurt. He says
to tell him if it does and he will stop.
He smells so good, the way cinnamon
bread smells when it is in the oven baking.

After a bit more telling in the poem, a bit more revealing, Zaccardi says

"It was though a feather
has touched me and left a scar..."

This is the kind of imagery that knocks me out in A WOLF STANDS ALONE IN WATER. It's impossible to speak to all of the poems in a collection when you write a review like this. Thanks for letting me add a smidgen!


Ed Coletti said...

Yes, Katherine, I certainly am aware of the poems of childhood sexual abuse. This knowledge was especially apparent and painful during the reading in which the three of us participated at the Larkspur Library. I had written this review long before that. For some reason (perhaps due to the nature of the journal for which I was writing it), I left out many or most of those poems. However, that did not stop me from writing the following poem which I hope reproduces well here.

Flower Ache
for Joseph

The poet who I know as a friend
consistently heartens me
on each written page
sweet courage
courageous sweetness
unique to the boy
at very least the one
of whom he writes
how the lotus remains
to always counsel
strength in joy
enduring drowning
never drowned

Joseph Zaccardi said...

Dear Ed,

Thank you so much for reviewing "A Wolf Stands Alone in Water." As hard as it was for me to pull this book together, I'm amazed at the way you found a way to express what it contains. And Katherine, thank you also for your comments: spot on.

I'd like to say a bit about my goal when I started in on the many hard subjects in the MS. The first thing I promised myself is that I would not flinch or try to soften the truth, this as one can imagine can be daunting. But the one real surprise to me was how two poems specifically "Grand Theatre, " and "It is Getting Dark," made me face a morality issue that I didn't know was in me. Hate is something that I try to avoid on a daily basis; it's so easy to hate someone you disagree with or who is just darn ugly in there words and deeds. But hate came out of me in these two poems.

Here's "Grand Theatre" in its entirety: "A man was punched in the face / knocked to the ground, hit his head / on the concrete and dies a few days later. / The accused said he looked him in the eye / in a disrespectful way. / There should be no exception to mercy. // Forgive me, I sometime lack compassion / for the guilty; sometimes I am not myself." I almost left that poem out because it showed a weakness in my heart and character.

The other poem "It is Getting Dark," is about Jeffrey Dahmer, He killed men and boys, tortured them, then ate their flesh. I almost didn't write this poem because the subject is so horrific. When I heard on the new that Dahmer was murdered in prison, I said aloud, "Good, I glad he's dead," I felt bad saying and thinking that but it just was visceral. Anyway that line is in the poem; again I didn't want to turn away from the truth of my feelings.

One enters each poem from day to day and leaves the burden on the plate of poetry.

Joe Zaccardi

Joseph Zaccardi said...

Oh Ed, your poem "Flower Ache" is vey powerful. Joe

sfheart said...

Hi Ed,

Your blog is very attractive and I enjoyed my visit here this morning.
Wonderful poetry! My favorite - 'His Motivation'.
I especially thank you for the information and link you shared on PUNCTUATION & Apollinaire. I love that sort of thing!

Good Work!


koi singh said...

Thanks so much, Ed. It's always good to see Zaccardi's work recognized