where the lush
sounds of syllables
add shades and
|Poems are made of words. Theirs is a fragile architecture. Is "the apple" green? or red or yellow? Hanging on the tree or baked in the pie? Is it knowledge, the darling of your eye, or New York City? Of course, it is all the above, and more. "In the Beginning was the Word" says one book, as if the dawning of the intellect were the beginning of the universe. In other words -- it's all words. There is an underlying playfulness in our current literary theorists, with their concepts of deconstruction (stripping old meanings away to find new, even including the way rappers mine old riffs for new meanings as "samples"), and semiotics, where|
|words are but the signs and symbols of things.
Our poets are not theorists but artists, whose lush sounds of syllables add shades and deep resonance, and as they tickle our ears with meaningswithin meanings the possibilities of poetry add dimension to the act of being. May we be inspired. This is not the end. Word.|
BESMILR BRIGHAM was born in some eighty years ago in Pace, Mississippi and until recently lived in Horatio, Arkansas with her husband and fifty or so cats. Winner of an NEA Fellowship, a student of Robert Duncan, New Directions published her only book, Heaved from the Earth, in 1971. A well-traveled bohemian, a hard-edged poet of death and life, she appeared in numerous anthologies in the 60s and 70s but is at this point she has become a forgotten voice. She currently lives in New Mexico with her daughter Heloise and her son-in-law, the poet Keith Wilson.
Located in the high peaks of the Rocky Mountains, Salmon, Idaho has for several years built a literacy program for kids around the work of Montana poet Sheryl Noethe. SAWYER SHEFTS is in the third grade. He wants to be a poet when he grows up.
PETER COOK is the most astonishing poet "writing" in American Sign Language today. Of course, for Peter the poem is composed "on" (in? through?) his body, where prepositions fail. For those who cannot speak (read?) sign, his language appears as an amalgam of gesture, dance, and almost-mimed theatrics. With the overlay of the (unspoken) language of the deaf, Peter's performance becomes a metaphor for "The United States of Poetry": giving voice to those who have not been heard. A native of Rochester, New York, Peter now lives in Chicago, where he teaches ASL Literature in high schools and acts in Deaf Theater.
Ahero of the New York performance and poetry scene, EMILY XYZ's poems often go so far as to demand a second voice to carry their multilayered punch -- she most often performs with actress Myers Bartlett, who appears with her in "The United States of Poetry." Hailing from upstate New York, Ms. XYZ has recently released her first record Electric Magistrate (Mouth Almighty Records), with music by Virgil Moorefield.
The poet AI lives a reclusive life with her five cats in Tempe, Arizona. Of distinctly mixed ancestry -- African, Japanese, German and Native American -- she has published five books of poetry and has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEA, and Radcliffe, among others.
RUSSELL LEONG, a Professor at UCLA where he edits "Amerasia Journal," is the author of two books of poetry. A scholar as well as a poet, he is known for a subtlety and depth that stretch the mind to the inner forces of a poem, where life lives.
Right there in the bisexual deep fry, where language meets music for a quick cocktail before hightailing it over the border to some Utopic greensward or other (useta be a city!), this is the habitat of one MICHELLE CLINTON, the fierce sister from LA, now Berkeley, who lets you off the hook only when you say "I do" and go ahead and marry her poetry. Voted "One of the Best" performing poets by High Performance Magazine, she is the author of three books.
LARRY EIGNER was born in Swampscott, MA., in 1927, and died in Berkeley, CA, on February 3, 1996. An exceptional man, he had been confined to a wheelchair by cerebral palsy since childhood. During his life he was a model of creativity, publishing over thirty books since his first in 1953.
Sitting in the control room of a radio station and smoking a cigarette is a long-haired, quiet, intense young man. The lights blink ON AIR ON AIR, and then switch to KEROUAC KEROUAC. And indeed the words are from the author of On the Road, and here the voice breaks into the jazz poems of Kerouac's Mexico City Blues, perhaps the greatest volume of straight-out jazz poetry ever written. And the man who's reading them, in a gently-inflected smoke-tinged voice, is JOHNNY DEPP, who, when not starring in movies, is an avid Kerouac fan and scholar.