The Lune and Robert Kelly

I used to love Robert Kelly’s poetry. I did my thesis on his book-length poem The Loom (Black Sparrow Press, 1975). (Good luck finding a copy. I found mine in a tobacco and books store in the Adirondacks somewhere. You can try Abe.com. It may be the best place on the internet to find books.) The name of my poetry journal, Redactions: Poetry & Poetics, is a tribute to Robert Kelly, as his selected poems is called Redactions (Black Sparrow Press, 1995). (Also another one that might be hard to come by.) I have #33 of the 100 numbered and signed copies. I’m sure I would still love Kelly’s poetry if I read him again. Perhaps I will this summer.

Robert Kelly, along with Jerome Rothenberg, created the term and school or type of poetry called Deep Image or Deep Imagism. If memory serves me correctly, the initial manifesto was in the second issue of  Trobar on pages 13-14 or 11-12, or thereabouts. 1964ish. (I can’t believe that still lingers in my memory.) Robert Bly and gang then usurped it and transformed into something a bit different, which is fine because something good came of it. (Kelly’s deep image is more linguistic based and Bly’s is more Jungian based.) I wonder if that is why Robert Kelly and Robert Bly despise each other. I’ve mentioned Bly’s name in Kelly’s presence, and it stirred up some negative emotions in Kelly. And I’ve mentioned Kelly’s name in Bly’s presence, and Bly was more vocal in his displeasure with Robert Kelly.

Robert Kelly, I learned today, also invented the Lune. It’s an Americanized version of the Haiku. Robert Kelly didn’t think the 5/7/5 syllabic version worked well in the English language because it had too many words. So he condensed it to 13 syllables – 5/3/5. He also got rid of the nature requirements that a haiku has. “Lune” is French for “moon.” So the name makes sense, because there are 13 lunar months in a year. In mathematics, the lune is a shape that is similar to a crescent moon. “The Lune” also rhymes with “The Loom,” the above mentioned book. You can read more about the Lune on Robert Brewer’s blog Poetic Asides. This is where I first learned about the Lune. In the Lune blog entry, Brewer also wrote his own Lune, which I’m hoping he doesn’t mind me sharing here.

trees never wander
but still spread
across open fields

I like this poem. It still has the leaping qualities of the haiku that I’ve noted in other entries. However, Brewer’s big leap, his jumping-with-sensation leap, occurs after line one and not after line two. But it is a terrific leap. It goes from a static image to a kinetic image, but you don’t realize the kinesis until the poem ends, or at earliest on “across.” The image just keeps unfolding. It’s a solid poem. A solid lune.

So, thank you Robert Brewer for introducing me to the Lune.//

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