02
Feb
12

First Brief Notes on Paleopoetry

I stumbled upon this image just a moment ago.

Woman with Horn

It’s called Woman with Horn. (There may be other names, but that’s what I’m using.) I found a decent brief description of this Woman with Horn carving:

This limestone image of a female carved into the cliff wall at Laussel, in the Dordogne, in France, carries an object that perhaps is a horn, or, by virtue of its lunette shape, might evoke the moon. It dates to roughly 20,000-18,000 BCE, and seems more imposing than its mere 17 inches of height. (Nature and Society)

There’s a lot more to it than that, as I remember from studies, and I think I get to some of it in this poem, which I wrote sometime ago.

All Objects Contain History in this House
after Louis Zukofsky & W. C. Williams

The pregnant lady
on the wall,
she lived here
first. Her left arm broke.
Too brittle
we assume.
We feel sorrow
for her
fingers reach
only inches
above her navel.
No farther. A bit longer
is her right arm
& strong.
She stands with her elbow cocked
as if to throw
the crescent moon
to the end of the year.
We can tell.
She looks
forward with the stone stance
of determined aim,
&
the crescent has thirteen scratches
made with intent
& a blade.
The marks obviously
are for the passing year’s
every new moon.
Her expectant face
though is blank. Not without
expression
totally but flat
as the wall.
We barely
notice her breasts
sag
to her wrist
& stretch marks.
Her right nipple
also has broken off,
we can’t explain that,
but we can understand
why she wants to throw
away the past.

I started that poem in October 2003 and finished it on April 27, 2007. It now appears in Poems for an Empty Church (Palettes & Quills Press, 2011). If you like that poem, you’ll love the book because the other poems in it are even stronger.

I wanted to share that poem tonight for two reasons. One, I had forgotten about the above sculpture for a long time, and when I saw it, I remembered I wrote a poem about it. So there it is. Two, this is an early attempt at what my friend (Christine Noble) and I are calling Paleopoetry. Clayton Eshleman got there first, and he’s the man, but we are doing it differently. Except for this poem, I think the neo-Paleopoetry (where Eshleman is Paleopoetry) is more imaginative in the direction of the human spirit and soul at the time those Paleolithic artists existed. This neo-Paleopoetry likes to branch out into everything we can find and imagine and that made us human and how we became human. It about how we came to invent things like dolls and burial and cooking. And how the invention then turned back on the inventor and the spiraled outward to humanity and culture and fear and death and love and metaphors and sex and . . . . What it’s really about is living and the beginnings of living and the beginnings of the creative processes and imagination. The above poem isn’t really like that, or not much, but these new ones my friend and I are writing are. Maybe I’ll share some more as time goes by.

Additionally, Paleopoetry is also good place to also continue my explorations into investigative poetry. If I can study the Paleolithic era with enough integrity and write about it well enough, then the Paleolithic era will connect all people at all times. It will become a lense through which I see life and the universe and that I hope others will use to do the same.

I hope to have more detailed thoughts on this as I progress. I just wanted to get those first thoughts out there so I can remember to think about it and come back to it.//


4 Responses to “First Brief Notes on Paleopoetry”


  1. February 2, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    I loooved this poem. So creative.

  2. February 2, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    Wonderful poem! I especially like the line about ‘thirteen scratches’ : )

    The concept of neo-Paleopoetry is an interesting one. Hope to see more.
    -Karen


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The Cave (Winner of The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award for 2013.)

The Cave

Poems for an Empty Church

Poems for an Empty Church

The Oldest Stone in the World

The Oldest Stone in the Wolrd

Henri, Sophie, & The Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound: Poems Blasted from the Vortex

Henri, Sophie, & The Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound: Poems Blasted from the Vortex

Pre-Dew Poems

Pre-Dew Poems

Negative Time

Negative Time

After Malagueña

After Malagueña

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