:: Maintenant

Maintenant #93 – Charles Simic published 13/05/2012

When I’m writing, I’m as oblivious as a dog digging a hole in the ground with his paws. There may be a bone there or nothing at all, but while I’m doing it… that is all I know. After decades of reading and listening to debates about tradition versus avant-garde, I’m frankly bored. Good poetry has been written in all sorts of ways since the days of Rimbaud as everyone ought to admit. If someone can get away today by writing poems that sound like Byron or Emily Dickinson, poems that one can’t stop reading, let’s not worry about what the disciples of Gertrude Stein will say.

In the 93rd of the Maintenant series, SJ Fowler interviews the Serbian / American poet Charles Simic.

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Ghost Cinema published

And act like sweethearts
On a bare mattress laid out for their use
On a warehouse floor
Under the bright spotlights.

Standing afterwards
With their foreheads touching
As if about to be hung
By a single rope
From the high ceiling,

By Charles Simic.

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Maintenant Croatia published 06/05/2012

Truly revolutionising Croatian poetics since the turn of the century this group of poets represent a generation that has refused the staid political atmosphere of post communist poetry circles, and has forced their nation to expand its scope and poetic vernacular. They have achieved unprecedented success, making Croatia a world recognised powerhouse of contemporary European poetry. Centred around the iconoclastic Poezija magazine Damir Sodan, Sonja Manojlovic, Ivan Herceg, Dorta Jagic and Tomica Bajsic constituted the core of another wonderful night of readings.

Videos from a poetry reading in London that showcased the best of 21st Croatian poetry by SJ Fowler .

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Maintenant #92 – Jeff Hilson published 22/04/2012

I also wonder whether the old-school mainstream hasn’t eventually realised how boring its work has been for the last 40 years and has decided to poach terminologies traditionally associated with the avant-garde. A soon-to-be-published critical work by a well-known mainstream poet and editor claims to be “a radical map of living British poets” (you can google that phrase and find out who it is). It’s a joke! None of the poets examined could be called ‘radical’ in any sense – politically, formally, historically – nor would they, I imagine, think of themselves in this way – but using a word associated with the avant-garde will give this miserable text some much-needed credibility. It’s a small sign of how bad things have got in the mainstream and how desperate they are to be taken seriously.

In the 92nd of the Maintenant series, SJ Fowler interviews the English poet Jeff Hilson.

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rinker published

mike dress as a
love-pup :––––––
woo ––––––––––
woo ––––––––––

doug in a taterb
bag walkin’ ‘n’
eatin’ : ‘m’ eatin
‘n’ walkin see

& they danced
on the friday de
december for th’
buildings of eng

land (smal early
wals of tin (dogs
who settle giant
youths clubs of

kent here is the
sheriff – of – the –
stair (dogs insted
a buried twins

By Jeff Hilson.

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a joyful summit of old savages published 20/04/2012

If it was true, as was said and probably is the case, that these four men will never again share a stage, then all the more do we benefit from taking a moment in their collective presence to consider what it is all for – the practise of being a poet, reading poetry, attending readings, living with a pen in our hands. It is just about the poem, and being honest to that poem, amidst the same responsibility as everybody else, to be a decent person, one who will help those coming after them with a selflessness and a generosity that belies any notion of the poet as some pretentious conduit for some pseudo-muse in a lofty tower of god given talent.

A report on a poetry reading in London that brought together four legends by SJ Fowler .

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Maintenant #91 – Gunnar Harding published 15/04/2012

I started to write poetry during my military service in the then still mounted Swedish cavalry – The Royal Northern Dragoons. The cavalry gave you few opportunities to paint, bur very generously gave you time for meditation as a stable-post, guarding the horses at night. The poems I wrote there contained very little of the manure-stinking surroundings though. It took me some years to find my own voice. The visual quality in poetry has always been important to me. And that led me to Apollinaire, who tried to transform the Cubist painters’ methods, like the collage, into poetry.

In the 91st of the Maintenant series, SJ Fowler interviews the Swedish poet Gunnar Harding.

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Three Poems published

It isn’t everyone who grew up in a psychiatric house
with a green sofa that reeked of neuroses
though the place was forever being aired out
even on cold winter days when the bullfinches
sat bleeding in the bare apple trees.
It isn’t everyone who knows what it means
to sit on a parapet
high up and without a flyboard
although you can see others flying by,
some of them even sitting up in their beds.

By Gunnar Harding.

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Maintenant #90 – Andrei Codrescu published 08/04/2012

I had the good luck to come on the scene in New York in the middle of a youth revolution. I was nineteen, America was nineteen… There was electricity, trains left for heaven every ten minutes. Allen was a big, generous, loving uncle full of wise advice for the foolish young. Others, like my father-brother figure, Ted Berrigan, were teaching the pop delight of the common objects to idiots like myself who carried the virus of metaphysics from Europe or Yale University. My contemporaries had halos of light and were pierced by Cupid every time they turned the corner at 2nd Avenue and St. Marks’ Place. Poetry was worshipped for its close connection to the gods, who were extremely numerous in those days, and also for its fearlessness.

In the 90th of the Maintenant series, SJ Fowler interviews the Romanian poet Andrei Codrescu.

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Three poems published

you walk three frustrated miles
meeting no one you know no one who knows you
you could swear it’s the same place where you had
hundreds of friends and acquintances
the buildings haven’t moved
you never find out where the party is

The gaze doesn’t reveal anything
it places us instantly in a different situation

(Victor Brauner)

no point in looking for it
it’s not the past or the wrong city
it’s your transparent body

Sola la muerte es fuerte

By Andrei Codrescu.

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