Friday, July 10, 2009

Aimless Reading: The C's, Part 44 (Brent Cunningham)

Bird & Forest
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Cunningham, Brent
Bird & Forest

Received as a review copy from Ugly Duckling Presse upon its release a few years ago. Unlike with most review copies I receive, I actually wrote a review of this book. However, it is not online, so no link.

Brent, who many folks know from his work at SPD, arrived in Buffalo in 1997, the same year I did. A whole bunch of interesting people arrived in Buffalo that year and in the following few years, including: Joel Bettridge and Jonathan Skinner and Linda Russo and Roberto Tejada and Chris Alexander and Kristen Gallagher and Barbara Cole and Graham Foust and Anya Lewin and Thom Donovan and Kyle Schlesinger and Rosa Alcalá and Sarah Campbell and Patrick Durgin and Sasha Steensen and Gordon Hadfield and Doug Manson, not to mention those that were already here before we arrived like Alicia Cohen and Yunte Huang and Tom Fisher and Ben Friedlander and Nick Lawrence and Eleni Stecopoulos and Joel Kuszai and Taylor Brady and Scott Pound and Bill Howe and so on and so forth. It was a pretty exciting few years to be around here.

Brent and his then-wife Cree Lea (named, as I recall, after the poet) lived in the second floor apartment of a small, brick, workman's cottage, which stood in neat little row among two or three other small, brick workman's cottages on Allen Street in Buffalo. They had arrived from, I think, San Luis Obispo, where he'd been reading books of langpo while working in the kitchen of a restaurant. He said he'd tried to interest his co-workers in the poetry of Ron Silliman and Charles Bernstein and Lyn Hejinian -- alas, to no avail.

My most vivid memory of Brent in Buffalo is of going with him to Parkside Candy, a 1920's soda fountain, perfectly preserved, with all of its period furniture, decor and lighting still intact. I remember his amazement that such a place existed. He seemed quite moved. You don't understand, he told me when I asked him what it was that so touched him, nothing is this old in California!

The Room
a prelude for Patrick Durgin

the accessories speak of impressions and vanity

satellites of a warm and & human ness

cut in the wood, the boards

everything has something to say while I, of I, have nothing

no exits in the room, no entrances

am I handsome? ugly?

raised to unburden myself

of pictures

plywood over the mud, a raft

filament, vibrating;the night retreats

tonight the room is cold

account for the one single place

a courtyard down a corridor

why preserve life, why ennoble it

when did I first know?

tricks, cleverness, the brass bolt

they can't see

for we are constructing them

vines, rim of a fountain

he wakes; it's night; the room is with him

calculating parts, desiring parts

every word had its meaning

what's my advantage?

yelling, screeching

the cause of quietness

a plywood table, skull candle, case for books

going to his punishment

longing to do good

5 senses assailed for ideas (poor senses)

what is outside? the non-room

poetry imitated sky & earth, also caves

bowls of porridge, slowing

approaching the court yard

bears in nightgowns, hungry

a fountain, vines

must I ask until I die why I live

poetry was writ in blood,

cherished, immortalized

now it's just us, dear room

my lady's charmed opening

I rubbed my eyes; they were tapestries

fucking urchins are imitating us

I have no core, no cord

one room was forbidden her

streets, courtyard, a rehearsing public

love isn't a seminar

he wakes; it's night' the theater

newly discovered fields

of psychology and sociology

Mama in her bed

Papa out walking

the doors retreat

like us they eat, like us they wear clothes, like us they sleep

at eighteen we reveal it

the girl-animal lifts her spoon

poetry spoke its sublimest voice

their ethos a a fragment

to disgorge an image, plead it

my room, my room, I am no replicate

a number 3, a begonia, a raft

only those he loved could enter

only those who left were loved

And that's it for the C's!

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