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body haul_sampler

body haul_sampler

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Published by Carl Javier

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Published by: Carl Javier on Feb 21, 2011
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02/21/2011

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UNIVERSITY OF SANTO TOMAS PUBLISHING HOUSE
 
 xi
Breaking the Structure, Handling the Body
PoetryissuchaKaa-esque,ever-morphingcreature,alwaysbuzz-ingaroundhereandthereunderthecanopyoitsever-fuctuatingstruc-ture,someelusivethingreusingtobepinneddown.Inmorewaysthanone—andtoreerenceabookbyJorieGraham—theuniedeldisand willalwaysbejustadreaminpoetry.Isaythistostartotheintroduc-tiontothisbook,AllanPastrana’srstcollectionopoems,becausePas-trana’spoetryremindsusotheinnatewanderlustothepoeticorm,andstartlesassuch.Tesearenotnecessarilypoemsoaccess;theuntrainedreadermayndhimsel/herselwrestlingwithPastranasdiction,technicalconceits(enjambments,italics,indentions),andsyntax:possiblegridlocksthat wouldurtherdelaythearrivalatthepoems’intentionsandinsights.Yet whilethesemaybeperceivedascruelnegotiationsonthepartothereader,theyare
not 
intendedtobedeliberatelypunitive(dicult?)onthewriter’s.Teproblemonlyariseswhentheoneholdingthisbookrelishesinimpatience,treatingseemingviolationsinlanguageashumps blockingthepathtowardthatthingcalledmeaning.Lestweorget,poetry
is
language—andmayevenbesoviceversa,iyoubothertoreadontotheendothisintro.GeminoAbadoncesaid“thepoemiswroughtromit(language)”.Meaningis,atitsbest,relative.Poetsaspireingeneralorthehumanturn,thatglimpseosomefeetingtruth.Wedonotwritepoetrytotellthetruth,buttoaspireorthepos-sible.Inaword,verisimilitude.Iamnotsayingherethatpoemsintendtolieandtouselanguageasitsconvenientalibi.Onlythatoenourtoler-anceolanguageisbluntedbyoursharpneedortheproound,ourzealorquickepiphanies.ButImspeakingtoomuchaboutreaderconcerns.Languageisoconstantprimacyinpoetry,ocourse.Itisitsvessel,itsbeginningplace,itswomb.Anditevolves,graduatesromthecommonplace,gushesorthinebbsandfowsinitscravingornaming.
 
 xii
 Body Haul
iscradledbythisschema.Whilethere’saseemingintel-lectualandacademicstraininthepoemsherethatbreaksawayromac-cessibility,itisnotthewriter’sconcern.Pastranaisnotposingorpostur-inginhisexperimentations,norishedeliberatelyexcluding.Insteadheindulges
Craing 
—theendlesspossibilitiesothelyric,andthemusicitemanates.Tepoemsherearethereorenotpoemsoperormance,butotheparadoxosilenceandsoundonthepage.Ihadearlierstatedthatthesepoemsstartle,andthisismainlybe-causeoPastrana’smostlysyncopatedapproachtodictionandsyntax.It wouldbeconvenient,ocourse,tocreditthistohisbackgroundasaMu-sicmajor.Butmostothepoemsheredomimicmusic—notsong—anddelightinthelilts,crescendos,anddiminuendosotheinstrumental,thevoice-devoid.Hendssoundmostimmediate,mosttactile,andhescramblestohavelanguagecapturethisurgency.Still,theseeminghumpsdownthislanguageroaddodisappearandopenuptoamiliarterrainsandvistaswhenonereallysitsdownontheindividualpoemsin
 Body Haul
.Tisisbecause,whilethepoemsplayaroundatwillwiththemyriadlanguagesospaceandsound,thepoetconsidersthisasrequiredtransactionsthatwillpayoandunravel(eventually,tothekeenreader)verypersonalandquasi-conessionalconcerns.Itwon’tbeeasy;theserevelationsaredelycamoufagedbypervadingsyntacticalbreaksincadenceandsyncopations.Butthecon-cernsaresurelydiscoverable,waitingorthewillingtowalkwiththepoetdownthatroad’send.Pastranasis,andultimately,acollectionrootedinthepoet’saspira-tionstomanagedesire,tounderplaydirectness.ItjustmaybelabeledLanguagePoetrybysome,butthepoethimseldoesnotbelieveinsuch boxes.Insteadheinsistsonthesmallmelodies,themanymercieslan-guageultimatelyaordtothewillinglistener/reader.Hedoesthiscon- versely(non-traditionally?)—romtheabstracttothephysical.Temusicrst,
before
thesong.Tis,nally,is
 Body Haul
’sbodyelectric:tocarryourmortality(“ourmostrailgestures,”ase.e.cummingsputit)bywillinglysurren-deringandheavingitintothisonebox:thisstructure,thiscage,thisBody—thepoetandthelanguagebothwide-eyedandkeenontheirgloriouspossibilitiesandgiventransience.
 Joel M. Toledo

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