Monday, March 11, 2013


I've been and am interested in The Grand Piano because of its described structure as a "collective autobiography." Ten different authors. Ten volumes. I had anticipated reading each volume as it was released but, after the first volume, failed to kept up. Now, I have all ten volumes at once.

I had no intention to do so, but this evening, I read through all of Lyn Hejinian's contributions in Volumes 1-10. No intention, I say, because I ended up caught in her contribution -- for me, they were page-turners and suddenly I was going through Volumes 2, 3, 4, 5 .... thought to pause after Vol. 5 coz it was late, then thought, what the heck, and continued on through to Volume 10. A very satisfactory read with an (to me) unexpected "ending" (Vol. 10) in what narrative thread I was threading through Volumes 1-9. I really need to re-read her contributions again. But on first read, my most powerful engagement was probably with Vol. 3 when she pissed me off -- well, not she; perhaps it's more accurate to say, I got pissed off (rather than she pissed me off) -- because something she wrote triggered several extremely uncomfortable memories I have as regards my mother. This is all just a testament, of course, to the power of her writing.

Oh, and there was another incident noted in Vol. 3 where two of the male poets asked her if she'd read this other author and she'd felt the question to be a "test" .... I get this. I know this. While not proposing acrimony, I am reminded of several conversations with males and male poets, including one with an older, male poet wherein, at one point, I told him, "You do not know more than I do. I simply know different things from what you know."

Anyway, I think I'm going to continue to read The Grand Piano this way -- i.e., each poet indivually. Then, depending on how I respond to what I've read, I might read the books the way the authors (I assume) intended, a volume at a time so as to get that "collective autobiography" point of view. Because the structure interests me and I want to see what's in that comparison of reading them individually vs collectively.

Huh. As it turns out, I think it's just as well (for me) that I ended up waiting to read The Grand Piano until all volumes were released.

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