05 June 2006

Devouring each other


Andy Gricevich wonders “what Curtis, Joe, Arlee, Ian look like”…

“(Michaux) sat with his back to the light so that it was difficult to see him; he shielded his face with hand and contemplated me warily out of the corner of his eye. Michaux will not be photographed, and refuses to allow even a drawing of himself to be reproduced. Faces have a horrible fascination for him. He has written: “a man and his face, it’s a little as if they were constantly devouring each other.” To an editor who once wrote asking him for a photograph to publish in a catalogue with others, he replied: “I write in order to reveal a person whose existence no one would ever have suspected from looking at me” -- this statement was published in the space that had been intended for his portrait.” (Ashbery, Reported Sightings, 397)

6 comments:

andy gricevich said...

I have been duly chastised by the avant-garde for my presumptuous curiosity.

I remember seeing Michael Palmer's author photo on the back of Sun and remaining utterly unconvinced that an actual human wrote those poems (he looks like a suave soap opera actor in that picture). I've seen him, or one of his stand-ins, read since then, and it hasn't made the poems any less weird, really.

And there's still the often stark difference between a person's poetry and their "blog personality;" the latter might be just as false to the poetry as a photo would.

Ian Keenan said...

The Palmer/Sun pic is funny. It's all about the chest hair.

david raphael israel said...

I think I saw Palmer live before I saw his books. Well no: I heard his voice before I saw the written texts. This is because in San Francisco, I learned of him via his collaborations with choreographer Margie Jenkins. But that was prior to publication of SUN. Even though I have had the latter book, I don't recall the photo. But photos in the 2 earlier North Point books looked just like the guy, and I think he even sports a hint of a smile (this from long memory).

Ian Keenan said...

If you've owned Sun and you don't recall the photo, then perhaps your mind is performing a necessary function. But it's always worth looking out for a new copy.

Ian Keenan said...

btw the Michael Palmer pic in question is on his poets.org page..

www.poets.org/viewmedia. php/prmMID/15949

david raphael israel said...

oh okay; duly noted. The title of his book Notes from Echo Lake returns to mind -- that was probably the first work of Palmer's I saw interpreted by Margaret Jenkins (or anyway incorporated into her dance company's performance), something like 21 years ago. Which seems a nice swatch of time. I read Palmer and Scalapino's North Point books, and later learned there was something known as a language poetry movement. I think it found mention in a footnote in Palmer's book in fact -- where he hat-tips it and claims not to be part of it. But the detail, and phrasing, are vague in memory.

Ah but no, it was a passage (some passages) from his book First Figure, that figured in the (rather apocolyptic) dance work. "These are the first figures" is a sentence that lingers in mind.