Gustave Dore, “Daniel in the Lion’s Den”
Back now from my third and final trip of the last 4 months, this time to Denton and Galveston to help my son Eric move. I picked up some kind of bug at the tail end of the trip (perhaps from the polluted brown Gulf of Mexico water I swam in?), and after returning to San Antonio on Monday to a tedious eleven-hour day of jury duty, I’m now resting at home and nursing this cough/cold, which is giving me a much-needed break from my job, my writing and KSE editing/publishing, etc.
Just yesterday Zachary C. Bush sent me the final edit of his new SPIN chapbook, which is actually part one of a two-book sequence. ZCB read me these poems aloud when I visited him and Krista in Jersey City in May, and I was blown away by them. I don’t feel that articulate today, so I won’t attempt to describe them…wait for the blurb when the book is released in a week or two. All I can say is that these poems represent a new level in Zachary’s writing which is, paradoxically, both more complex and more accessible than some of his earlier work. It’s deeply rooted in his Southern background, which he seems to have adequate distance from (now that he’s in NY/NJ) to write about in a detached yet rich manner. I love these poems, and I will be proud to share them—-and the second volume, which will follow in a few months—-with the KSE readers.
Working with A. J. Kaufmann is always a joy, and I have three things to discuss about that. First, A. J. and I have just issued our two chapbooks dedicated to the late Sky Sunlight Saxon: A. J.’s SYMBOLISME PSYCHEDELIQUE (KSE #143), and my own PLINK, PLONK & SCRATCH (KSE #142). I’ll have a post about each one soon. Here they are:
Second, I’m in the middle of our collaboration BLUES FOR DUFFY POWER, which you can expect in September, I hope.
One of the images I’m using throughout is that of bluesman as prophet, as the shaman-Jeremiah in the wilderness truth-telling to a people who aren’t listening. With that in mind, I’ve been re-visiting a number of Old Testament prophets, starting with the 12 “minor” prophets (I got an excellent book on that subject while in Ruidoso, NM), and also Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Daniel, which I’ve been working my way through recently (thus the Dore artwork above). Page five of DUFFY POWER, the mid-point or “pivot” in the piece, will echo the dreams/visions found in Daniel. Like yours truly, A. J. Kaufmann is interested in the formalistic aspects of poetry, and I must say we have devised a unique structure for this chapbook, which will probably be a nine-page work. I won’t give the structure away at this point.
Thirdly, A. J. and I have another long-term collaborative project that we’ve begun work on, a chapbook inspired by the painting of CY TWOMBLY, and which attempts to mirror in poetic form the structural and thematic aspects of Twombly’s artwork. When I visited the Cy Twombly Gallery in Houston earlier this year, I just knew I had to attempt something like this, as Twombly’s work—-collected in a beautiful museum devoted ENTIRELY to this one artist and organized into thematic rooms each of which presents multiple related artworks—-took my breath away. A. J. was familiar with CT’s work and was excited to join me on this project. This is a long-term project and I doubt you’ll be seeing it until late 2009 or early 2010, but projects of this type require a lot of preparation and background study. I hope the end result will be worth it.
In other KSE news, I have the completed manuscript now for MK Chavez and Mira Horvich’s PINNACLE chap
which will be out in September, and also Misti Rainwater-Lites’ new VEGAS THE HARD WAY chap that will be out in October. Both of these are newly written multi-poem suites, composed especially for the KSE format. They are important new works from two of the nation’s finest working poets. And only $4 each in the US ($5 elsewhere). How can you go wrong with that?
Well, in honor of the late, great, one-time El Paso resident Raymond Carver (who was a friend of my first wife Kathleen when he lived in EP…read her excellent article about him in an old issue of the Hollins Critic), I think I’ll take a swig of Ny-Quil, and then get back to Daniel, who just survived that night in the lion’s den and is back having dreams and visions again. Maybe if I take a second swig of the Ny-Quil I’ll have some of my own…
ps, there’s a new review of my FACE TO FACE (KSE #101) chapbook over at Michael Aaron Casares’ “Over Your Radar” blog. You can read it here: http://overyourradar.blogspot.com/2009/08/bill-shute-face-to-face.html