Saturday, December 31, 2016

Paulette Spescha-Montibert writes


it's november again
and again
memories call me back
they don't disturb me
they just call me back
again and again back
where I cannot go

 Image result for memory painting
 It Is Devoted To Sacred Memory The Triptych Part 1 -- Meruzhan Khachatryan


chester giles responds

CG: I'm from Fish Town (Brixham) which is in the southwest of England and grew up in the boredom of that place surrounded by the sea and the hills and a lot of small minded people getting drunk and fighting themselves and each other. I went to the local comprehensive or state school 'til I was sixteen then vaguely attempted to attend college a few times doing various things like photography and film off and on 'til I was in my early twenties. I worked various jobs like in the factory with pa or helping friends on farms but ended up being a chef - Where I'm from it's kinda you either catch the fish or cook the fish. I moved away to different places at different times always scratching in my notebooks. No where seemed to stick 'til I ended up in Bristol where I understood it would become possible to write something worthy and for something to happen. The same year I moved was the same year I discovered the Tao and the two things coming together were something important for me, as was the sudden immersion in sound system culture. I stayed in that town for a while intermittently starving and working, always writing, losing my mind and going to the dance (sound systems), pushing for words. After that in an attempt to escape various psychoses I made an abortive attempt to move to Lisbon in Portugal but it never came off and I currently find myself back in the home town going soft trying to work out the next move, still waiting to find the immortal words for the immortal page. ha.

DV: What drove you to become a poet? A teacher, a book?

CG: I've always written things, when I was a kid I used to write lyrics all the time without songs for them. I don't think there's anything in particular that drove me to it, just the necessity to create and communicate individual experience and my belief in its importance. There are writers and artists I take particular inspiration from such as Saroyan, Bukowsky and Han Shan but they kinda just give me strength I guess from their examples. I just believe it's the most important and the only worthy thing to do with your life - create art, what ever it is. I don't want to achieve anything else with my life but put the words on the page and try to say something truly great because for me that's the most incredible thing humans can share and trying to do anything else lacks any real appeal.

DV: Charles Bukowsky is one of those writers that immediately attract or repel his readers (maybe both at the same time). I've always thought that he is wonderful in any given poem, but if you read enough of him he gets rather repetitive, stylistically and thematically. Still, he remains a guilty pleasure, in small doses. The occasional toot for a non-addict. William Saroyan (I guess you mean him, but it could be his son Aram Saroyan?) is a name that doesn't come up very often any more. I guess in particular I'm surprised that a young Brit would know who he is. Quite frankly, I don't see the connection between you as writers. Can you explain what you've learned from him, speaking as a writer rather than a mere human being?

CG: I like the way he (William) approaches the page fearlessly and puts everything in, all of himself and his experience. His work to me is about being humble and honest and has a clear understanding of the individual's place in history as part of something much larger than the self while still being caught up in a self which is subject to certain conditions and is constantly being torn to pieces and amazed by the world surrounding it. His tone is often conversational and direct. I am only a human being and writing is something I do, if you're coming real there is no distinction between your writing and the way you live. I see this in Saroyan's work and the other guys I mentioned and I guess this is what I've learned from him.

DV: Actually, quite a good lesson! Why do you think so many (usually not very good) poets seem so pretentious?

CG: Difficult question, man. I think a lot of writers seem so pretentious because they are. I feel like a lot of people use their writing as a way of telling you who they think they are and why they think they're great and why their perspective is so unique. It becomes an exercise in ego and it can seem to be a lot more about a display of intellect or how deep and sensitive they perceive themselves to be and so want you to perceive them as such. This is pretense. I think  that because your work becomes a document of yourself a lot of people lack the courage to be as real, or as mediocre, or ugly and shitty as everybody really is - or at least can be.

DV: If I hear you right, you reject the "Art for Art's Sake" mantra, which focuses on creativity and craftsmanship as the most important elements, and instead see art as an outer reflection of the artist's inner being. "Self expression" rather than "artistic expression." Is that a fair summary? Does that mean that, other than honesty, there are no criteria by which we can establish the value of any particular literary creation?

CG: I think there needs to be a level of skill and creativity involved, otherwise the work isn't stimulating and there is no reason to engage with it. But I would say that it is more important to develop an individual craft representative of yourself than to prescribe to external or already established ideas of what that means. I think that there needs to be a balance. For me honesty and integrity are how I value literature but that doesn't necessarily mean I reject all craft.

DV: To me, this is an interesting manifesto you are presenting. Certainly I can see how it works out in your own work. It relies heavily on imagery, irony, and tone (which are definitely sophisticated poetic techniques). Though it eschews traditional poetics (rhyme, meter, form) it is clearly arranged in a manner that rhetorically advances its point, which invariably turns out to be a (presumably candid) personal reaction to events and environments in your world. It is not journalistic, because it is not "objective," but it is also not insincere cant designed to appeal to popular sentimentality. Do you have any early work that could illustrate how you worked out these principles in practice?

CG: I've been keeping notebooks since I was in my teens so I guess the evidence is there somewhere but I don't really observe my own work in that manor. I don't set out with an idea of executing or demonstrating principles or ideas. I just keep on writing, hoping that eventually I'll hit upon the thing it is I want to get out (and the clouds will part and the heavens will crack like plate glass and everything will move forever into an incomprehensible abstract - hahaha). I have understood definite advances in my work at various points but I don't think I could tie them down, or even necessarily always understand them.

DV: Do you consult those notebooks? Are they continuous, or regular, sources for your poetry, or are they more like archives, for posterity?

CG: They're my work books, I keep the notebooks I'm using on me most of the time and work in them daily. I date all my work so that I have a reference and can put it in some kind of context and I'll look back through them every now and then but tend to only really be involved in the current one and the one preceding it. When I give readings I take a few to select from but I prefer to read my most current work because I think that is the most relevant. To archive my work I tend to type it up and send it to my friends, then a kind of final draft or finished piece exists.

DV: Do you give many readings? Do you think they have any value to you as a creator of poetry, or do they just give you an opportunity to perform?

CG: At the moment I'm involved in various musical projects and I'm part of a collective based in Bristol called Young Echo, I perform and release records with the groups Killing Sound and  ASDA  as well as other collaborations. I perform written work over improvised pieces of music with Killing Sound and the other things are a little more composed, this is the only way I perform my work at the moment but the writing is different for these projects. I haven't done a reading or open mic for a while but I believe poetry is supposed to be read out loud, even if it's just to yourself. The phonetic aspect of words contribute as much to their perceived meaning and for me poetry or any written language can't be successful if it only works on the page. But likewise poetry which only works if it is performed falls short. Part of the reason I stopped going to a lot of spoken word events or readings is because of a lot of poets' tendency to rely on their performance - to me this isn't poetry.
DV: For quite some time I was the non-singing vocalist with the Kimchee Cowboys, a "legendary" underground group in Seoul. (That's what they call cult groups that don't have any commercial appeal.) But mainly my experience at open mics, where I read a lot, was that most poets didn't put ENOUGH emphasis on their performance. Maybe because we rarely had any rappers? Oh, well. However, you do seem to embody the whole poetic experience, as a writer, as a performer, as a theorist.  What is your next ambition?

CG: Thank you. My next ambition is to publish a collection of my work probably off my own back if I ever get round to putting the money together to produce the book I want. But it would be nice if someone external saw merit in what I'm doing enough to want to publish it. I can never work out if that's a true test of how successful writing is or if just an indication of  commercial potential or popularity. But for me an actual book like the ones I buy and sit on my shelves - that would be pretty big. You can consider yourself fairly legit then I think.

DV: Artistic legitimacy is a matter of self regard AND acceptance by others, but the balance is determined by circumstance. Emily Dickinson wrote well over 1,500 poems in the 1860s but only published a half dozen or so of them. Henry David Thoreau wryly remarked how he had several shelves of  his own books -- the ones he had paid to publish but was unable to sell. Myself, I've alternated between publishing indifference and enthusiasm (and have had modest success despite my inconstancy; I admit that I sometimes treasured acceptance notices and reveled in holding the trophy volume in my hands; but, ultimately, these pleasures did not matter or last). But you are young and fame (and fortune) seeking; that can be, I know, a strong spur to the hard task of creation. So, I wish you well and hope you persist in your craft, which is already "fairly legit," in your words, and I thank you for your insights into these quite heady matters.

Alex Krivtsov shoots

Heather Jephcott draws and writes

Traces Of The Past

Traces of the past become lost
as the world becomes
one sophisticated mess.

Trying to find the past's beautiful footprints
when the days were lighter, kinder, slower,
where one could sit watching
butterflies dancing around noon.

The evidence for the past
is not near complex developments
covering every inch of old green,
colours turned into grey.

There is not a hint of this past
in the cultivated inelegant speed,
the intricately set traps,
the bumps along the way,
places to fall splat, flat.

Traces of the past are dissolving
as the city spreads becoming
an ever widening sophisticated mess.