EW: Hi Chris! This is Emily and page 1 of a Peter Gizzi poem.
EW: Hi again! Page 2 of "Blue Peter".
EW: I really wanted to send this poem to you because it's the poem that started me off in this review. I was trying to write about endings and how great Gizzi is at ending a poem. Giorgio Agamben has that book The End of the Poem in which he argues the essential problem in ending a poem is that a poem is defined as a marriage between sound and sense (Valery I think?) but the end of a poem disrupts the dynamic between the sound established by meter and the semantic power in the line. Gizzi however manages to write an ending that blends sound and sense. There's a lift in the voice ending on a question--a sound that expresses the action of the final word "wave". On top of that, I think the larger "sense" of the poem is only revealed as we approach and end the poem. We need the end to make sense of it. So, I'm willing to talk about whatever you fancy in this poem, but I am blown away by that end. And not because of the wind power in his final wave. Talk soon! Emily
CK: What's brilliant about "Blue Peter" (one of the many brilliant aspects) is that sound and sense collide and toss up chalk dust of a sort, the dust of something brutally simple but off upon closer inspection - sight, rhetoric, interpersonal correspondence - like the flags and targets that populate the paintings of Jasper Johns. And, like those paintings, we get the mirage of something official and presidential, especially when we encounter "will not parry from this / dearth." He's screwing with us in the most sincere and serious way that Johns does. I'm probably reducing the work of both artists, but it has me thinking about the necessary surfaces things must wear for us to see them, the 'you' that the speaker wears about his mouth, about the end of the poem which seems to be wearing the cloak of 'the end of a poem'.
EW: I haven't looked at your text until just now, days after you sent it. Not how texts are supposed to work, I know. But I'm glad I waited. I'm blown away with how you've put it: "something official and presidential" paired with Gizzi's light touch. And that idea of the ending being layered, the ending itself being worn "about my / mouth, as a crease, deepening". Looking back at the poem after your response and a week away from it, I'm struck by how differently I read it every time. And I think that speaks to your observation that there's a collision of sorts, several collisions, in the poem that tack and bend to various understandings. How the abstractions of the axis and "multiple / perspective" gives way to "the garden of vestiges, next to // the sweet water cistern". I read love, death, perception, philosophy here--differently each time. The speaker moves away from what does not interest him "as I take / seriously your claim to provoke you." What do you think about the "you" here? There is so much affection, I think, but I'm not sure I'd be able to say what sort of beloved that "you" might be.
CK: It's an interesting instance in those lines you mention in which I feel like I can't insert myself in some sort of emotionally driven pronoun overlap like I can with, say, "Modern Adventures at Sea," a favorite of mine. I can live in the pronouns of that poem and engage with my own life vis-a-vis Gizzi's. But in this one the 'I' seems like a faculty, like the middle section of a see-saw (an unintentionally related image) that enables the back-and-forth of perception. That would make Gizzi the beloved, which seems appropriate for a poem about consciousness.
CK: I love this poem, and I loved talking about it. I'd like to live in a landscape populated by texts about Gizzi. Or, as Frank Black once sang, I want to live on an abstract plain.
EW: I like this idea of the self-beloved, a dialogue between self and soul. It makes me want to enter the next poem I write completely rethinking pronouns, my relationship to them, the reader's and theirs to each other.
I can honestly say I better understand this poem after chatting with you about it. Catch you in the plane I fly over the abstract plain. Later!