Readings in Contemporary Poetry: Robert Kelly and Anna Moschovakis

Monday 16 December, 2013
6:30pm, $5

Dia: Chelsea
535 West 22 Street, Floor 5

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Robert Kelly

Robert Kelly is the co-director of the Program in Written Arts at Bard College. His first book of poems was published in 1961 and his most recent books in prose are the novel The Book from the Sky (North Atlantic/Random) and his fifth collection of shorter fiction, The Logic of the World (McPherson & Co.). He has also written substantial texts responding to work by Brigitte Mahlknecht, Philip Taaffe, Nora Jaffe, Matt Phillips, Heide Hatry, Sherry Williams, Barbara Leon, Nathlie Provosty, Susan Quasha and others. Kelly lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife, the translator Charlotte Mandell.

Section 53

But if you burn a log a wolf has pissed on
in deep winter but it’s summer now
some strange night cold sugars of his appetites

will dance in smoke above the franklin stove
filling the parlor with outrageous schemes
lust and bite and midnight chase

close that old book
old wolf is trotting still
no need for memory

forget the meat you bit or bite
don’t let melody resolve
so quick inside the harmony your head

the malady of intercourse
there are sentence patterns here
you have to learn from listening

the opal sky gives way to grey and then to pearl
a little rain a little wind and thou
asleep beside me be wilderness enow

I wolf my way through the light
guided by cloud contours
brisk northwind shoves the sky out to sea

secateurs and flowers
only voices here no people
bodies come later

after the linguistic conventions are established
it’s time for meat
and Entities come down to the surface of earth

to take up residence in the pronouns 
to inhabit the language they had to make
flesho-mechanical bodies to manifest and control

the organs of articulation needed to speak
then ears to hear then hands to cover them
when the information grows too thick

and the Entity yearned for opalescent repose
east of the sea
where the strayed voluptuary tries to think of something else

only the images count
ignore the propositions
they’re just armatures

to wind our bright things on
that teach us how to be and touch and to mean,
only the images

the story’s for the sake
only of the instruments deployed
the scythe and the haystack, lipstick in the canoe.

I saw you part your lips last night
standing beside the bed I got in first
for a change you were putting lip balm on

standing there in your blue peignoir
and this is heaven I understood,
Eden was an accidental suburb of this moment

a cluttered Levittown of heaven, 
heaven that is here now, thingly and will-free,
apocalypse of This.

Anna Moschovakis

Anna Moschovakis is a poet, translator, and editor. Her most recent books are You and Three Others Are Approaching a Lake (Coffee House Press, 2011), and The Jokers (New York Review of Books, 2010), a translation of La violence et la Dérision by Egyptian-French novelist Albert Cossery. She is also the author of a previous book of poems, I Have Not Been Able to Get Through to Everyone (Turtle Point Press, 2006), and translator of novels by Annie Ernaux and Georges Simenon. She teaches at Pratt Institute and in the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College. Moschovakis is also a longtime member of Brooklyn-based publishing collective Ugly Duckling Presse. She lives in South Kortright, New York.

from Death as a Way of Life

It began:

1. Life is not fair
2. How can I be happy while others suffer
3. How can I not be happy while others suffer
4. Others will suffer whether or not I am happy
5. It is not the suffering of others that causes my happiness
6. It is not the not-suffering of others that causes my unhappiness

I have been attracted to the idea that naming is a form of violence
but does that mean we should go around calling everyone Hey You
which seems like another sort of violence
even though it is a way of recognizing the other
as other

What can be said on this point?


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