Written IN Weymouth & environs - ON buses or ON coffee-house tables - ON my laptop, IN a notebook, or ON my lap - here, there & in various PREMISES - but essentially @ home @ Golden GOJI Hermitage, drinking IN & out of poetry - ingesting this or that - and THAT is what drew me to Paul Blackburn many moons ago = ALE HOUSE POEMS, BAKERY POEMS, THE PROVENCAL TROUBADOUR POETS.....earthiness & classicism. BUT what does this Great Fool, w/out a passport to his name, know of such a wor(l)d ? Albeit that his mother came from Alexandria, and gestated sons who loved books and great libraries !
#1) My brother in Oz, prodded me to write about P.B., following my quirky, previous blog-post on here, which referred to Paul Blackburn. i dismissed the idea w/out even considering that i write anything = just not up to such things (?)....less than 24 hours later, i found myself working, as if on benzadrine, on this essay/blog-post. And it is work. And it is a practice...s'thing i had never accepted 100%, as i had the practice of zazen. Just sitting, was all that mattered = SHIKANTAZA = the practice of DOGEN. Katagiri Roshi's remark to Nathalie Goldberg, that WRITING should be her LIFE-PRACTICE, never quite accorded. After-all, for Dogen, ZAZEN WAS BUDDHISM. Likewise, when Franco Beltrametti told me in the 80's, that he practiced WALKING MEDITATION, i thought - not the real thing. i had not matured by a mile. Slowly, more teachings percolated into the mind of this great fool. THICH NHAT HANH talked of WASHING-UP MEDITATION.....life itself is the great practice, life and death, THE GREAT MATTER.
#2) Could not, for the life-of-me, find Paul Blackburn's books when i wanted'em. Searched the library in vain. Then, sidetracked by rearranging some BLACK SPARROW'S in studio/conservatory, i find "THE JOURNALS" under my hand & gaze. i flick thru, happy to have found s'thing. i knew Blackburn had died "young" - but OH! - only 45! (1926-1971) and realised, in that moment ,that when i first read him, he was already dead. Robert Kelly writes, as editor of this book - "The last writing in it comes up to six weeks of his death in September, 1971."
What i "liked" about Paul Blackburn was the "open form" and his ease with contemporary NEW YORK city & translating from the Spanish eg. LORCA. He won a Guggenheim Fellowship...etc...To quote Robert Kelly, once more - "In New York which was most his home and center, he could find the sunlight on a wall not different from Barcelona."
#3) It has been so long now, since my readings of the 70's that, as i sit in "COSTA COFFEE",(decaff.espresso & soya milk), with "THE CITIES" before me & to hand, it strikes me, that these poems are "new"/still fresh. @ 45, Blackburn was still "young enough" to have gone on and worked & practiced, for many, many years. i think of Bob Dylan's refrain = "may we be forever young"...but not in this way, to not have gone on...And there are many...THE POETS OF THE GREAT WAR, JIM MORRISON, HEATH LEDGER...and in "our" family, TIM HEMENSLEY (of the POWDER MONKEYS) - i blub into my coffee. No one notices.
#4) "THE CITIES", (Blackburn's "first, extensive collection of verse" -(Grove Press - 1967)) the Auth or's Note reads - "Every man's stand be his own. Finally, it is a construct, out of my own isolations, eyes, ears, nose and breath.." ....i hear an echo of CHARLES OLSON in that ="No such thing as mass, as much as, many people, each with eyes in their heads, to be looked out of." Do i misquote ? That is what i have as my memory of it. i do not want to rise from my place and search it out...do not even really know where to look...Human Universe essay ? Do not wish to interrupt this flowing of "mountains walking"...?....? BUT, maybe i will...SUDDENLY, i feel i have written enough in this first draft/ this blog-post.. appropriately, it is young/ still fresh...ready to be played with in this warm and early spring of ours in Weymouth, where the cherry blossom, out front, has passed full-bloom,and is falling to the ground, even as i write.....i will wait, stay my hand, and WAIT and see if it PROVES, like the bread-dough in tins, waiting for the heat of the oven.....i will soon make my way into the world - to find some fresh, young heirs (pun intended)...."The air sweeps out the odor of love from rooms / the air we love, we weep, we read, sing.."(from "The First Round", Paul Blackburn - AGAINST THE SILENCES - Permanent Press - 1980).
#5) I'm going to THE KING'S ARMS on the harbour. Not a drinker as such - i like a good taste - a good taste of real ale, home-baked bread and poetry....a half-pint will do me. & a packet of s'thing salty....just a half-pint to keep me hand in!!....How else to encounter the world ?/ this world. It is the friction / our continually rubbing-up against / this buffering away, that will reveal the new in which we are moment by moment, breath by breath, being reborn...and it is in this ,that those who are no longer visible are held in our hearts. This is all we have and it is the whole created world. It is enough....