Saturday, August 01, 2009

leavetaking: Godfrey, Grossman

Off at the crack of dawn for Tennessee, for six days. Probably no blogging.
The big Francis Bacon retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum, which I’d postponed going to for weeks & weeks, was overwhelming, as I feared it might be. I think what I came out of it with was two things: 1) a sense of how carefully worked Bacon’s canvases are; no matter what bits of aleatory or gestures towards abstract expressionism he might incorporate, they’re really very comprehensively planned & carefully executed; 2) a sense of Bacon’s incredible anatomical mastery, which seems to rival that of Michelangelo.

Looking at the large-than-life backdrop of Bacon’s infernal pigsty of a studio, along with his incredibly messy notebooks & reference photos, makes me feel somewhat better about the state of my own study.
City of Corners, John Godfrey (Wave Books, 2008)

I need to read more of Godfrey, I think. This collection & Midnight on Your Left, from 2 decades ago, are all I know of his work, but I like both of them very much. Very much – overwhelmingly – an urban poet, a poet of the subway & the city streets & the city nightclubs. An alert, almost aching sensuality, scented with taxi & bus exhaust & the New York summer perfume of rotting garbage – which doesn’t one bit subtract from the poems’ fundamental sexiness, or disguise the thread of longing & affection that runs thruout the volume.

Descartes’ Loneliness, Allen Grossman (New Directions, 2007)

As befitting the title, a book of meditative poems, on first things & (often) last things, death conclusion. Scenes of instruction (“the long schoolroom” AG’s figure for the poet’s vocation), not untouched by the erotics of learning on which Anne Carson & Guy Davenport have written so eloquently. One is reminded of the late Yeats, & occasionally of William Bronk, tho Grossman, for me at least, is a far more genial poet than Bronk. Bronk stares unblinkingly into the abyss & issues dour reports; Grossman dances on the edge, aware of his solitude but continually reaching out & blowing kisses to his companions.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love the blown kisses Mark, Thanks, I'll look into this one, Tom