Monday, March 18, 2013


I'm reading -- and misreading -- THE GRAND PIANO by reading one poet through his/her contributions in the series' ten volumes. The second poet I'm reading (after Lyn Hejinian) is Ron Silliman. I don't know if I'll post reading notes on all the poets but when I do, please note these are notes just for moi own porpoises versus for some sort of critique, review or what-not. Or, I should say, my critical attention is not the same as yours/others (nor should it be).

Anyway, to Ron Silliman: by the time I've read Ron's contributions through the first four volumes, I'm noticing (many things but am talking now only about the facet of) an equanimity across his writings ... here's actually a graph I scratched out over how I bounced (or not) off Ron's contribution:

For some reason, I wasn't expecting this thing I'm calling "equanimity" -- but that's what I gleaned and such made me wonder if it results from how one has looked back often and considered at length something in history (including one's history). So that by the time Ron as writer pens his words, he brings to his writing less of the ruminating process ... and more the fully-formed thoughts ... which generally (not necessarily specifically to Ron) can be such slippery slopes (these fully-formed thoughts) as one engages in autobiography ...

... this impression, which I'm not yet articulating well, may have more to do with me than Ron's writing, of course. (I note it here tho to file something niggling at me about the cleansing effect of distance that affects the energy level of the writing. But I'm doing a parenthetical here as I have to think more about this ... )

But let me go for now to the spikes in the graph above -- the spikes here symbolize emotional engagement on moi part. My first emotional reaction to Ron's contributions came towards the end of Vol. 5 when he wrote this very intelligent paragraph:

"I can imagine every poet associated with The Grand Piano, plus quite a few others, having written Instead of ant wort I saw brat guts. Which is to say that I can envision a place in the writing of each in which this sentence becomes necessary. In every instance, however, it would mean something quite different. Those words in a poem by Ron Padgett would carry a different weight than they would in a work by Linh Dinh, Elizabeth Willis, or Bruce Andrews. What those differing meanings might be is what concerns me most."
Yes, I responded as regards those "differing meanings" by the same words. Yes, I thought intensely. It may be an old story by now but, still, I reacted: Yes.

There's a second higher spike there re Vol. 6 which I'll get to below. For now, let me just say that the graph shows that I most enjoyed Vols. 9 and 10. As an "ending," they are open-ended. It shows him open/ing to the world, which I vaguely recall was one of his goals as stated earlier in his contributions. And that "ending" occurred just as Ron launched his famous and infamous blog.


So, as to that second spike mid-way through the volumes and my reading? Well, it happened in Volume 6. I'm not entirely sure how it happened -- maybe I turned 2 pages instead of 1 -- but somehow I ended up towards the end of Ron's Vol. 6 contribution "continuing" my read onto the pages of the next contributor who happened here to be Steve Benson. So I was very surprised to be reading that Ron came out as a gay man in 1976 -- I didn't know that! -- and was avidly reading more ... until I realized, this wasn't Ron Silliman anymore. And here is what's interesting (to me about me): the revelation that I turned the pages erroneously and Ron wasn't the gay man didn't strike me as strongly as realizing, Oh, that's why the writing style here (in Steve Benson's) did not have the same equanimity as before ...


May 23 Update/Clarification over HERE.