Wednesday, December 20, 2017


I had forgotten about the references to the Vietnam War in "A" - 18. I really enjoyed watching the Ken Burns The Vietnam War this year, so I read these references in a new light. My readingtt's book on Zukofsky's 80 Flowers, but I don't think I'll finish it by Sunday. Then I plan to reread 80 Flowers itself and then leave Zukofsky for until the end of November 2018 after the midterm elections. I like the Leggott book, but I don't know if I understand what Zukofsky had in mind when he wrote 80 Flowers.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

"A" - The Fonz

Well, I just read "A" - 2 this morning as I continue my annual tradition of reading "A" every December. I just started reading Michele Leggott's Reading Zukofsky's 80 Flowers, and I hope to finish that as well as 80 Flowers itself and Zukofsky's book on Appolinaire. Perhaps next year I will return to Zukofsky's Catullus.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Mr. Smolin, The Mookse and the Gripes

Well, Mr. Smolin has become more and more important to me. I love the first two novels in his The Miranda Complex (volume three comes out next January!), and I have loved his music for years. Once again he has participated in the Waywards and Meansigns musical Finnegans Wake project, setting "The Mookse and the Gripes" section of the Wake to music with some Webern/Cecil Taylor-ish piano. I suspect volume three of his novel will have a large Joyce component, and this music seems a dreamscape preview. The Wake has many male dyads: the Mookse and the Gripes, Shaun and Shem, Cain and Abel, Punch (Pontius Pilate) and Judy (Judas) [one might see this dyad as male/female], etc. One might see Barak Obama and Donald Trump as two characters from the Wake. That actually makes more sense than the last four months of US history.

I recommend checking it out.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Hello. I hope all goes well. I plan to reread "A" again this December, and I invite you to join me. Last December I enjoyed my annual reading of the poem, but I felt like I would have gotten more out of it if I had read more supplemental material on it and Zukofsky, so I had planned to do that this December. I may do that, but I have other reading plans this year (like finishing rereading Proust). We will see. In any event, I look forward to reading some Zukofsky after a dry spell. I just finished reading William Carlos Williams' Collected Poems this weekend. I also will teach Pound's anthology Confucius to Cummings at the end of this semester, so I look forward to some Zukofsky/Proust/Pound/Williams synergy to go along with the new Star Wars film.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Catullus 22, etc.

Happy New Year - the Year of the Drum!

I had thought about discontinuing this blog, but here it goes. I enjoyed this Youtube video on Catullus 22: . It begins and ends with the poem in Latin, with a detailed analysis in between. The Zukosfkys' version made more sense when I read it again after watching the video.

For '15 I've started reading another book of poetry,  Fitzgerald's translation of The Odyssey. Embarrassingly, I've never read the whole Odyssey. I used a line of Pound's as an excuse: he said no decent translation existed in English. Well, since I hope to finish my book on Wilson and Joyce by the end of 2016, it seemed like a good time to read some Homer to help me understand Ulysses.

I now have bookmarks in fifteen books of poetry: The Collected Poems of Ray Bradbury, which I may finish this year during a "science fiction week" I have planned this summer; a book of Chaucer; a bilingual Inferno which I hope to finish in May as the Dante Society at my high school finishes the Inferno; The Portable DanteThe Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson; The Collected Poems of Robert Frost; an iBook by Robert Herrick; The Odyssey; a volume of Irish poetry; The Collected Poems of Patrick Kavanagh (the poet Desmond Egan told me "to do myself a favor" and buy this book thirty years ago); From Totems to Hip-Hop edited by Ishmael Reed; The Faerie Queen by Spenser; The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams (as I make my chronological trek through film history, I read his poems for each year - I plan to read his 1954 poems this month, and I plan to finish the book when I reach 1962 later this year); "A" (I just finished my annual read through - I may work on "A"-24 and/or the index Zukofsky compiled between now and December); and the Complete Short Poetry by Zukofsky, which includes Louis and Celia's versions of Catullus.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Vain Repetitions

I started reading "A"-10 this morning, which deals with the Nazi occupation of Paris. So far I have completed each section on the corresponding day. Friday looks like a challenge, with the long section 12. I remember the first time I tried to read the "A" 1 - 23 during Advent two years ago. I didn't finish section 12 on 12/12/12/ as I recall. I do remember that I had a cold.

Two years ago I read Barry Ahearn's book on "A" while reading the poem, and that helped me understand it. Last year the memory of the Ahearn book still seemed fresh. This year the poem makes less sense to me. You might say, why not reread the Ahearn? Well, I don't want to rely on his interpretations too much. I want to confront the poem on its own terms. I remember that Roland McHugh devoted a few years to Finnegans Wake before reading any of the secondary materials. Hugh Kenner said of Peter Makin's wonderful book Pound's Cantos that Makin never lost sight of the Cantos' difficulties.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Catullus 21

Well, I don't get much sense from the Zukofskys' translation. They chose against frankness in their translation, although they capture much of the music of the Latin.  I just finished reading a book called How to Read a Latin Poem - If You Can't Read Latin Yet, from which I learned that classical Latin authors tended to avoid explicit sexual language in love poems, but they used if profusely in poems of invective such as Catullus 21.

I've begun my annual Advent reading of "A". It has put me in the mood to listen to Bach. Some people, like Pound, Zukofsky, and Michael Johnson, see Bach as the greatest composer in the European tradition. Others, like Robert Anton Wilson and myself, tend to see Beethoven in that position. I thought about this driving into work this morning. I think the composers I first fell in love with prepared me to prefer Beethoven to Bach (much as I love Bach's music). A teacher in first grade played Haydn's Surprise Symphony for us, and I thought it the greatest thing I'd ever heard. I grudgingly approved of Beethoven at the time because he studied with my man Haydn. I studiously avoided the fact that Beethoven didn't like Haydn as a teacher and had few kind word for Haydn until the end of Beethoven's life.  A few years later I glanced at a collection of light classical music from my parents' collection and noticed a composer who shared my last name. Wagner and Haydn lay the groundwork, and I started listening to Beethoven around seventh grade, an eight track of Van Cliburn playing some famous sonatas.  I really fell for Beethoven at eighteen. I had a cold and stayed home from my summer job at IBM. I put on Toscanini's recording of the Seventh Symphony and entered a whole new world.