Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Aimless Reading: The C's, Part 23 (John Clarke)

Clarke, John
From Feathers to Iron

Purchased at Talking Leaves...Books about a decade ago. John Clarke was a poet, jazz musician, and professor at SUNY Buffalo. He died about 5 years before I arrived here. He was a faculty member from the mid-sixties onward and started around the same time as Olson was here. Along with George Butterick, Fred Wah, and several others, he was part of the Olson inner circle. These lectures, though grounded heavily in his interest in Blake, reflect a world view that is very in tune with Olson's--there's an abiding interest in a kind of deep mythopoetic excavation.

Here's a snippet from one of the five talks collected here, titled "The Disappearance of Ordering Intervention: Crete and the Regulation of Perfective Action":

"...labrys is the "lightning axe," perhaps an ancient Libyan emblem for for what Blake called "winged life"...,as opposed to the "endless labyrinth of woe"...inaugurated at the loss of the Cretan "gesture of epiphany." With the "Triple Goddess," the imagination gets the moon and thinks it has got Hecate. Graves has done so much great work, but where are the great poems? The Island is not in the moon, but "behind the Western sun." Still there are only three steps from feathers to iron, but the steps one takes can be made more efficiently by not taking the politics of what you want so badly and leaving it at that.

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