Review of Alan Gilbert, Late in the Antenna Fields
The writing in Alan Gilbert’s volume of poetry, Late in the Antenna Fields (Futurepoem Books, 2011), feasts on sarcasm and dispirited bitterness, not to mention a certain snagging anomie. Putting it better or worse, the reader might think to assimilate it to some kind of art adhesion. One is led, or profited, to hear, and to sense and to pick at, a general vaguely petulant and vaguely disinterested and yet persistent patter of ambient petrified displeasure. There is thus less of a danger than a foregone captation in this approach, inherently. So far so good if it sticks; so far so good so long as it educates even, guides, charts and winnows. But when notes of whining and griping swirl in, as they sometimes do, the reader may well wish to give pause.
Because of these under-currencies, however, Gilbert’s book can provide another benefit, even as it provides pleasure often … Click to continue . . .
New poetry from Joseph Milford graces our front page now, along with an essay by Robert Mueller on the poetry of Alan Gilbert. Both bring in a touch of the surreal, which is always welcome here. Because, poetry is like . . . a simile. Or, as Ernest Hemingway would say, “Do you want to box?”
Which reminds me of the film I saw last night, Woody Allen’s wonderful Midnight in Paris. An ode to the city of light, an ode to love, and a trip through time with Scott, Zelda, Stein, Picasso, Dali, Bunuel and a host of great artists, writers and composers. Why? Why do we go with them, through the streets of Paris, into the cafes and nightclubs? Ultimately, perhaps, to learn that there is no place like the present for love, and that without it time and place matter not at all. Without it, we have no Tree of Life, as Malick might say, stuck … Click to continue . . .
It’s that time of the year again. Toast one or two or three for old Jimmy and Nora. Toast one or two or three for the streets of Dublin he saw with uncanny focus from Trieste. And toast one or two or three for Blind Homer, who inspired him and gave the world of fiction its great and everlasting journey.
“As we, or mother Dana, weave and unweave our bodies, Stephen said, from day to day, their molecules shuttled to and fro, so does the artist weave and unweave his image.”
— Ch. 9: Scylla and Charybdis
Molly’s soliloquy, as read by Marcella Riordan.
“I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask … Click to continue . . .
This one had me rockin’ in the car, keeping time with her phrasing, the rise and fall of her emotions, just about bustin’ out of myself, which can be a little dangerous while driving.
Makes me think of Etta James. Few singers ever could match her for diving for her own depths. Few could match her for drilling down into the worst of the self and pulling up the greatest heartbreak, channeling it, bringing it back up to the surface to purge and shout out to the world:
“You need me!! No one can love you like I do!! Don’t forget me!! Don’t forget me!!”
Not just expressing the self, or even transforming it. Etta James and all the great soul singers destroy themselves again and again and recreate the body miraculously, impossibly. They rise from the dead, bring us fire, bring us the light.
This is a singer. She melts like Billie. She coos and riffs like Ella. She falls apart and gets right back up like Petula.
The music, the chords, the piano and her veracity break us down. She is not just part of the third British Wave — as if the wave sweeps over the notes and crushes their singularity. Adele, daughter of a teenage mother, has an old soul, an all-soul, and it breaks across the scat, the phrasing, and the nostalgia.
Adele is too young to be nostalgic, but she is, and she lets us be for her, with her, and for our own past. But she’s not too young to feel solidarity, to feel the heat of oppression in the city, and she brings us to that place, that time, where we have our backs up against the wall with her, where we can be as one with the working class and their plight, our plight, our … Click to continue . . .