A.J. KAUFMANN & BILL SHUTE
“TWOMBLY’S SIRACUSA” (KSE #151)
The third Kaufmann-Shute collaboration, Twombly’s Siracusa is our attempt to capture in verse the essence of the work of the visionary, revolutionary American painter Cy Twombly. Twombly is someone who simultaneously brought painting back to its origins on cave walls and on animal hides while extending painting beyond the action painters and abstract expressionists into an artistic world like no one else’s. He is truly a genre unto himself, as might also be said about Tapies, O’Keeffe, or Warhol. There is also a classical base to much of Twombly’s work, a core—-often submerged, and often halfway erased visibly on the canvas—-rooted in Roman history-mythology or classical literature. And often Twombly’s work integrates the process of creation INTO the work itself. There’s no one remotely like him, and his work is endlessly fascinating and inspirational.
A.J. and I, being both fascinated and inspired by his work, decided to take on this ambitious project in the Spring of 2009, and we spent six months coming up with the concept, structure, stanza form, pattern of images, historical base, etc. and then doing the actual composing of the stanzas, with countless e-mails and attachments and Instant Messaging between Poznan, Poland, and San Antonio, Texas. Our classical base for this piece is the Siege of Syracuse from 214-212 BC, where the Sicilian city of Siracusa was overrun and conquered by the Romans, and the Sicilians used in the defense of the city a number of odd armaments created by the great inventor-scientist-mathematician Archimedes, who is a strong presence in our piece. But Twombly’s Siracusa also resonates beyond that period in Sicily, all the way up through the present, and as in Twombly’s work, the creation of this piece is integrated into the piece itself.
Twombly’s Siracusa is our most ambitious collaboration so far (and it’s not without humor—-after all, who can use the phrase “cunning stunts” with a straight face!), and it is constructed with as much mirroring and symmetry and balance as a Persian carpet. After all, as Hart Crane once wrote, “Poetry is an architectural art.” We feel that it will reward multiple readings and that it will remain fresh whenever one turns to it. Try it for yourself and see!
And when visiting Houston, Texas, please stop by the Twombly Gallery at 1501 Branard, near the Menil Collection and the Rothko Chapel. I visit it two or three times a year when travelling through Houston, and it was a visit in early May 2009 that convinced me that A.J. and I just had to do this project now. And we did!
A.J. and I are presently developing a fourth collaborative chapbook, although that one will be more of a “joint exhibition” than a true collab as the first three were. More on that in early 2010.
TWOMBLY’S SIRACUSA (KSE #151) is now available.
In the US, books are $4 each postpaid, or you can get any three KSE chaps for $10 postpaid. Send a check (or well-concealed cash) made payable to Bill Shute, 14080 Nacogdoches Rd. #350, San Antonio, Texas, 78247. Outside the US, you can get any book for $5 postpaid, payable via paypal. Just write to django5722 (at) yahoo (dot) com and request a paypal invoice. For your 3-for-$10 deal, along with TWOMBLY’S SIRACUSA, you can choose from any of these other in-print chapbooks:
#150, MICHAEL LAYNE HEATH, “Loons of a Dogman” (sound library series, volume 48) ;
#149, A. J. KAUFMANN, “via alighieri” (cinema poetry series, volume 3) ;
#148, MISTI RAINWATER-LITES, “vegas the hard way” ;
#147, BILL SHUTE, “nobody knows, nobody sees” (cinema poetry series, volume 2) ;
#146, MK CHAVEZ & MIRA HORVICH, “pinnacle” ;
#145, A. J. KAUFMANN & BILL SHUTE, “blues for duffy power” ;
#144, ZACHARY C. BUSH, “spin” ;
#143, A. J. KAUFMANN, “symbolisme psychédélique” (sound library series, volume 47). In memory of Sky Sunlight Saxon, issued simultaneously with KSE #142 ;
#142, BILL SHUTE, “plink, plonk & scratch” (sound library series, volume 46). In memory of Sky Sunlight Saxon, issued simultaneously with KSE #143.
#141, LUIS CUAUHTEMOC BERRIOZABAL & CYNTHIA ETHERIDGE, overcome ;
#140, BILL SHUTE, subtraction ;
#139, A. J. KAUFMANN, antiquewhite rain (sound library series, volume 45) ;
#138, BILL SHUTE, the stumble (sound library series, volume 44) ;
#134, RONALD BAATZ, headlights from the otherside of the world ;
#132, DOUG DRAIME, knox county (photographs by Lena Ozuna) ;
#130, MISTI RAINWATER-LITES, odd years .