EW: Do I send this poem to you because I'm struck how suspended in thought I feel reading your own work? I had to look up "bardo", a liminal moment of thought/transcendence in Tibetan Buddhist meditation, but was drawn initially to the poem because of the action of thought, the Oppen-esque "to crow, to crown, to cry, to crumble." I am astounded by the shift from "if I say the words" to "Is there world?" As I said, your work strikes me as bound in thinking. How do you get there? How do you get out?
RW: I got a new phone, which usually means I never know who is texting. But I'm pretty sure this is Andrew?
EW: Sorry! It's Emily! I love that I could be Andrew. But I'm not as smart.
RW: I was close!!!
EW: Let's talk Gizzi for my "texting" review.
RW: You are that smart. Let's do the thing.
RW: I just printed out the poem and read it a lot with my office door closed and scribbled on it a bunch. So I think I'm ready.
RW: What I love about Gizzi is his faith in the imagination. And how he knows that believing so deeply in the imagination constitutes an act of transgression.
"I come with my asymmetries,/ my untutored imagination.//
RW: There's thinking, yes, the "lone mechanical whine", but what does thinking get us? What are we asking to arrive at through thought?
Meaning, right? That's the romantic philosophical product of thought. A sense of what it all means.
RW: That's what Novalis maybe represents, the thinker poet. Or Juan de la Cruz. They are two writers who sought meaning, and particularly meaning through some religious approach.
RW: But Gizzi-- "I am not sure about meaning/ but I understand the wave."
EW: Yes, meaning and it can be tempting to attach a moral rightness. Searching for meaning somehow raises the mind. I think Gizzi resists that. Just as you're pointing out.
EW: Juan de la Cruz dies for dying for his God. Gizzi 's belief in the imagination, I want to believe, is rooted in something else.
RW: Yeah yeah yeah. Rooted in rootlessness? In the wave, the flux, the motion of living? Not searching for an ethereal paradise, but attempting to feel most acutely the present, the chaos of the here and now:
RW: "The trees the air warms into/ a bright something// a bluish nothing into// clicks and pops/ bursts and percussive runs."
EW: The motion of living.
RW: Here he meditates on the metamorphosis inherent in living. Things change "into", insistently, other things.
EW: That can seem overwhelming. That's the motion we all try to stay in and come out of.
RW: And also he's meditating on the contradictions of living. First the trees are "something" then "nothing"
EW: Metamorphosis makes me think of you Virtue poems...
RW: Yeah it's super overwhelming, especially because it's so isolating, so private. He can't even feel sure that we'd know the words if he said them.
RW: I freaking love metamorphosis.
RW: And I tend to deify it sometimes, which then shuffles me right back into the essentializing kind of thought, the simplifying kind of philosophy.
RW: Gizzi is so good at holding deification off.
RW: There are no gods in his world. Or if they are they're just as slovenly as anything.
EW: Yes. That skill I think is why I trust him so implicitly and I hadn't realized it until now. I am suspicious of trusting a poetic voice but Gizzi doesn't take on the male mantle of a godlike voice. He too is always resisting, turning, staying in motion. This has given me so much to think about.
RW: Me too!
EW: Now my day is interfering and I have to go the grocery store to shop for a weeks worth of food for children. This motion of life is the one I navigate and Gizzi, I think kind of helps me see where thinking happens within motion.
You rock mr. Whitehead.
RW: You rock ms. Wolahan! Get those kids some gummy bears.