Sunday, February 6, 2011
The Formal Field of Kissing
Purchased at Talking Leaves...Books.
I am trying to remember Bernadette Mayer's trip to Buffalo in 1999. I remember had just quit smoking and ended a year-long relationship and was in a pretty foul mood the whole time she was here.
She read with Peter Gizzi. Peter took us all to the mall to see "Rushmore," which had just come out. We ate dinner at the Anchor Bar with my two vegan friends, Aaron and Michelle, who were given a choice between regular fries and curly fries for dinner, as everything else was chicken wings and burgers.
The second night we all ate dinner at Le Metro with Ben Friedlander and Nick Lawrence. I think Carla Billiteri may have also been there.
Bernadette gave a workshop at which she handed out the "Idiosyncratic Poetry Pyramid Guide," a chart, based on the food pyramid, in which she replaced food items with poetic terms, names of poets, poetry movements, forms, etc. The original still hangs on the wall in my office.
During the workshop two local poets objected to her positioning of "metaphor" at the top of the pyramid under, "Fats, Sweets and Oils, Use Sparingly." They objected to what they perceived as the implication that one should be judicious in their deployment of metaphor in their poems. One of them declared, "When I use metaphors, I create worlds."
At some point, we may have been driving, Bernadette turned and asked me, "How can you enjoy Creeley's poetry knowing how badly he'd treated women?" I recall saying something about separating the art from the artist, which is about all one can say to a question like that. I wasn't sure if she expected a reply or not. It felt more like a statement, somehow. Or possibly a question she was asking of herself.
from The Formal Field of Kissing
Catullus 6 #48
I'd kiss your eyes three hundred thousand times
If you would let me, Juventius, kiss them
All the time, your darling eyes, eyes of honey
And even if the formal field of kissing
Had more kisses than there's corn in August's fields
I still wouldn't have had enough of you