I couldn’t take another day of it poemless and theoretical deluged by the theory of practice so this mornging I emptied my bag of Capra’s The Web of Life , Creeley’s Windows, and even the copy of Sawako’s Hockey Love Letters (That’s where I put it!) and put in the great tome Messerli’s From the Other Side of the Century. I even went to the effort to take along an aging Nono tape and earphones to prevent myself from listening in on other people’s conversations and sounds. Once I got a seat on the unusually busy post-Obon Yamanote-line, there was no question, open to John Taggart. I ‘discovered’ Taggart a few months ago when in a similar mood I pulled out Poems for the Millennium 2 before bed. I was so enthralled – the poem in PotM 2 read like the poets rendition of In C – I even read it to my wife, who, as usual was uncaptivated but flattered that I thought she might like to hear it. Taggart is an extraordinary poet. One of the few modern poets who has really attempted to reach music but hasn’t shied away from actual feeling as well. In fact, he is able to use these generalisable abstract words, like “pain”, without bathos. Ah, great, some of his poetry is available on the web! Here is an excerpt from the Slow Song for Mark Rothko (the poem anthologized in PotM2):
To breathe and stretch one's arms again to breathe through the mouth to breathe to breathe through the mouth to utter in the most quiet way not to whisper not to whisper to breathe through the mouth in the most quiet way to breathe to sing to breathe to sing to breathe to sing the most quiet way. To sing to light the most quiet light in darkness radiantia radiantia singing light in darkness. To sing as the host sings in his house.
The repitition recalls Stein somewhat, though it is more deliberately musical. I read that Terry Riley was very much influenced by Stein, thus the connection is hardly surprising. Still, as I was saying, a poem in which the wonderfully sensitive line “to light the most quiet light in darkness” can become part of this musically minimalist framework bespeaks the strength of writing. Damn out of time..

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