Friday, January 13, 2012

Aimless Reading: The R's, Part 2 (Tom Raworth)

Collected Poems
Raworth, Tom
Collected Poems

Purchased at Talking Leaves...Books, I think. I am not one hundred percent certain.

I think I first met Tom Raworth at the Creeley's firehouse in Buffalo. My memory is of him giving a reading in the living room.  He's been to Buffalo many times since I've been here. Once he read in the Steel Bar series. Another time he read for the Creeley celebration at Babeville. He may even have come back the following fall for the second of the Creeley celebrations. I saw him again last spring when he read for an Olson celebration put on by the University.

During one of his readings, which took place towards the beginning of the Afghan war, I remember he used a hand-cranked music box through which could be threaded sheets of paper with little "chads" poked through them, and that, when cranked through the box, would pluck musical notes, much like a player piano scroll.

He'd written out the names of U.S. military operations like "Enduring Freedom" on long, thin sheets of white paper, through which he'd punched holes along the lines and contours of the letters in each phrase. He then read the phrase aloud before running it through the music box, making actual music out of military double-speak.

from Collected Poems

No Music


to rise steadily with reduction
was the theme revealed
outside a circle of suburbs

incapable of different history
to produce a backfire

when small and tender

passed by, paused, into top gear

from a position far too close
to tolerate the fury of opulence

bones lie across the country
covered in rare mixed leaves
unable to keep them

to choose the surest gain

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