Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Aimless Reading: The R's, Part 17 (Lisa Robertson)

The Weather
Robertson, Lisa,
The Weather

Purchased at Talking Leaves...Books. Interesting that The Weather follows Atmosphere Conditions alphabetically on my bookcase, no?

I collaborated with Charles Bernstein to bring Lisa Robertson to Buffalo around the time she was writing this book -- so, 1999 or thereabouts. She read for Just Buffalo at Hallwalls' old space in the Tri-Main building and then gave a talk in Charles' seminar the next day.

She'd just returned from a semester in Cambridge, England, where she'd been on some kind of fellowship. I remember she talked about being amped up to converse at lunch with the likes of Jeremy Prynne about all kinds of theoretical issues surrounding poetry, but to her surprise discovered that the primary topic of conversation in the Cambridge lunch room was, in fact, the weather.

So, being Lisa Robertson, she delved deeply into a study of the discourse on weather. During the reading she described doing research into the meteorological journals of an 18th century English parson and borrowing liberally from it for this book.

The next day she came to Charles' seminar and played a recording of a BBC news program, whose name I can't recall (the Shipping Report?), that ends the broadcast day by providing a port by port, highly technical and detailed, weather report geared toward ships at sea. She described going to bed each night listening to these broadcasts until she'd completely, almost involuntarily, assimilated their rhythmic structures. After playing a recording that lasted about ten minutes, she read several of the poems from The Weather which, indeed, did mimic these rhythms with a a remarkable exactitude.

It was for sure one of the more memorable of many memorable visits to Charles' seminar.

from The Weather

from Wednesday

A beautiful morning; we go down to the arena. A cold wintry day; we open some purse. A day is lapsing; some of us light a cigarette. A deep mist on the surface; the land pulls out. A dull mist comes rolling from the west; this is our imaginary adulthood. A glaze has lifted; it is a delusional space. A great dew; we spread ourselves sheet-like. A keen wind; we’re paper blown against the fence. A little checkered at 4 pm; we dribble estrangement’s sex. A long, soaking rain; we lift the description. A ripple ruffles the disk of a star; contact thinks.

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