Posts Tagged ‘altamira

14
May
13

On Robert Gibbons Olson/Still: Crossroad

A version of this review (and a better edited version) may appear in a future issue of Redactions: Poetry, Poetics, & Prose issue 17, due out in fall 2013.//

Robert Gibbons Olson/Still: Crossroads

What is art and where does it come from? What is its source? These are questions Charles Olson and Clyfford Still pursued around the same time, in different locations, and unaware of what the other was up to while arriving at similar conclusions. It reminds me of Sir Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz arriving at the development of calculus at the same time, in different locations, unaware of what the other was up to, but Olson and Still have a less dramatic story. This story, though very interesting, is told by way of an adventurous, energetic, and original style of study in Robert Gibbons’ Olson/Still: Crossroad (Nine Point Publishing, 2013).

Clyfford Still, if you don’t know as I didn’t know, “was among the first generation of Abstract Expressionists who developed a new, powerful approach to painting in the years immediately following World War II” (Clyfford Still Museum).  (Some of his artwork that is mentioned in Olson/Still: Crossroad appears in this post.) Charles Olson, as you probably know, was a significant post-World War II poet, who was involved with Black Mountain and Projective Verse and helped bridge the way between the Moderns and Post-Moderns.

Clyfford Still – 1938-N No.1

Clyfford Still – 1938-N No.1

The book consists of 16 bursts of concentrated thinking. Most bursts are a paragraph or two long and read like short essays or charged notes. Each essay while focused is discursive, or perhaps, it would be better stated that the short essays follow the thoughts of Gibbons thinking. A thinking that pulls in obscure and not so obscure sources from Olson and Still and a few other places and people in a fury of entangled associations. For instance, in “Two Men, Two Letters”:

Olson wrote to Elaine Feinstein in May 1959, “The ‘source’ question is damned interesting…” Then begins to “hammer” the “help archaeology” is, as well as languages of North American Indians, including space-time of Hopi & Northern Californian Yani, driving as far down as Hittite & “the prime-abstract…” Eventually, the poet returns, as if drawing a spiral, or drilling cup-holes in language to Landscape (which he spells large as he had “SPACE… from Folsom Cave to now… Large, and without mercy.”) Here he finds Image & Truth equal to narrative. A month afterward, in June 1959, Clyfford Still writes a letter he refrains from sending, until making it public in Artforum four years later, “The truth is usually hard…,” in this context reminding one of stone, adding, “Dig out the truth and one man is a match for all of them.” (Gibbons 4)

I like to think of those cup holes being connected by a string of some sort, like those cup-strung phones or tin can-strung phones many of us played with as children, but here the cups are language and landscape, but one landscape in the thinking of this book is time. One end of this string is attached to those ancient cave painters in Altamira, for instance, that go back 50,000 years, as Olson has it. And Olson can stand in an ancient artist’s literal footprints to see the art. He can sense the source. Or as he would say:

[T]he mind is so ignobled in  our time (or was) exactly as sex has been, the way both these joys have been turned into mechanics, too, when surely, by our own testings, our own deepest knowledges, loves, these two, the brain and the cock, are what we stand on, more than our legs. (Gibbons 8)

Gibbons would stand in this same spot but would look to the back of the cave and see black (see “1957-D No. 1” below). His standing allows him to see the back of the cave “‘was never a color of death or terror’ […] but ‘warm – and generative’ & that from color, texture, image, ‘wanted them all to fuse into a living spirit’” (11). Olson’s standing also called up “THE GENERATIVE as a focus of attention.” It’s this standing around that leads to a Max Raphael conclusion about the cave artists, “signs… stand for abstract concepts derived from concrete events” (11). In other words, the cave artists anticipate the Symbolists (my conclusion), who were the first to suggest ways at creating art that speaks to or is abstracted from the unconscious – drilling cup holes from the conscious to the unconscious, or drilling cup holes from the self to “the cave of yourself” or as Olson says, to “ethos [which] means the cave of yourself… I mean a cave… It means literally a house inside itself” (20).

Clyfford Still – 1957-D No.1

Clyfford Still – 1957-D No.1

Gibbons has acted as a tour guide through a house in this slender volume. A house with many more rooms than the one I’ve examined. There are rooms with generative sources from stones, from the vertical, from the vortex, etc. It’s a house built by Olson and Still using different overlapping blue prints that Gibbons interpreted for us in his very unique and insightful way.

Olson/Still: Crossroad is a thin house or book, but by the end of this vertical (10.25″ inches tall by 6.25″ inches wide) and slender book, I was surprised by how much I experienced. The experience certainly seemed more expansive than 25 pages can allow, especially when four of the pages are end notes, and I’m still listening.//

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Gibbons, Robert. Olson/Still: Crossroad. Bridgton: Nine Point Publishing, 2013. Print.//

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Clyfford Still – 1950-B

Clyfford Still – 1950-B. (My side note: compare this to Henri Matisse’s “Le Bonheur de Vivre” and then to Wassily Kandinsky’s “Improvisation 27 (Garden of Love)”.)

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Clyfford Still – M-No.2 (PH 776)

Clyfford Still – M-No.2 (PH 776)

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Clyfford Still – PH-998

Clyfford Still – PH-998

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Clyfford Still – PH-1123

Clyfford Still – PH-1123

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16
Sep
11

in pursuit of the juiciest wine: day 100 (Altamura Cabernet Sauvignon 2007)

Hurray. Finally, it’s Day 100 in the Pursuit of the Juiciest Wine Tour. I’ve been saving the Altamura Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 for quite some time and for quite some occasion. While tonight is a quiet night, here’s what’s been going in the last couple of weeks. Hmm. How to order them. I thought of listing by order of importance or magnitude, but, hmm, they are all pretty big. So randomly.

Finally, I got new job! Yay. Thanks Gerry Fish. I’m going to be an editor, which is something I love to do. The job begins Monday in St. Louis. I’ll stay there for a week. Then the rest of the gig is working from home.

Working from home on my new laptop. A Toshiba Satellite P705D with an AMD A6-3400M APU with Radeon HD Graphics 1.40 GHz processor, 8 GB of RAM (thank goodness. that’s really what I wanted most), Windows 7 Home 64-bit, and 640 GB hard drive.

What else. Oh, Redactions: Poetry & Poetics issue 14 – The I-90 Poetry Revolution with guest editor, Sean Thomas Dougherty came out and we had a release party reading for it. It was a great reading held at the Alumni House at SUNY Brockport. (Thank English Department for hooking me up with space!)

SUNY Brockport is new thing. I’m teaching Introduction to Creative Writing there one night per week. I just started a few weeks ago. What fun.

I got that job thanks to Ralph Black, Steve Fellner, and Anne Panning and because I’ve a number of published books, including one that just came out two weeks ago. The book is Poems for an Empty Church from Palettes & Quills.

Poems for an Empty Church front cover

I’ve hired The Critic to speak on my behalf for this book.

The only way to shut him up is to BUY MY BOOK.

So I’ve had a lot going, and I’m not listing some other items, too. That’s enough. So tonight some good wine for the 100th day in pursuit of the juiciest wine.

Tonight’s wine is Altamura Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 from Napa Valley. It was number 5 on the The Wine Spectator Top 100 wines of 2010. So the wine should be perfect for tonight.

I got the wine on hearing its name and its rank. I did not know how it was spelled. I thought it was going to be a Spanish wine from Altamira. I was hooked because I love Spanish wines and I love the Altamira Cave with all the paleolithic cave art of which I’ve been writing poems about.

Altamira Bison

Altamura Cabernet Sauvignon 2007Enough of this. Let’s get to this 96-point wine.

The is an inky wine that’s dark purple in color and 90% opaque. It also has a tall meniscus. Is this wine even ready?

Thinking of tall, the bottle is tall and skinny. Odd.

The nose is smoky with dark berries, cassis, and black pepper. Yet with all that going on, it’s mild. My girlfriend says it smells inky. I get a hint of that, too.

Wow, that’s weird. It almost vanishes on the finish but then resurfaces.

It’s smooth going in like liquid air. And thinner than you’d expect from a cab. It’s actually kinda flowery when it gets in the mouth. But there’s also the counter of the inkiness and cassis. The cassis is on the beginning of the finish.

When you first taste it, it’s kinda like grapes. Like grape jelly but not as sweet but with the same wobbly texture.

My girlfriend picks up mushrooms. She also thinks its weird, but she thinks it’s weird because “It’s juicy, but I can’t define any of the berries.” After some time, she gets blackberries. I agree. That is, I think I can feel and taste those little blackberry hairs that poke out from in between the little blackberry bubbles.

Blackberries with hairs

This is a really mild wine. I quit enjoy. I give it an A.

The longer it sits, the juicier it gets and spicier, too. It gets more and more delicious. I can’t believe how much better it has become in the last 15 minutes. This bottle has been open for about an hour now, and it’s blossoming. It’s slowly becoming an A+. It’s coming alive with juiciness and youthful vitality. I feel like Dr. Frankenstein watching his monster come alive or, more specifically, Young Frankenstein watching his monster come alive.

The Altamura Cabernet Sauvignong 2007 is engaging. It’s flirting with me. It’s seducing me. Mmmmmmmm. I have been seduced.//

29
May
10

in pursuit of the juiciest wine: day thirteen

Day thirteen of the tour and I’m reminded Marietta Cellars Old Vine Red Lot Number 51of Dr. Who. There are supposed to be thirteen regenerations of Dr. Who. As we know, however, the tenth doctor, David Tenant, had two regenerations. He once regenerated into himself. And like Dr. Who, the Juiciest Wine Tour also had a repeat with the Chateau de Paraza Minervois 2007. So maybe this is only day twelve. Maybe it won’t be unlucky. Maybe Marietta Cellars Old Vine Red Lot Number 51 will be good. Let’s find out. Allons-y.

The back label says it is “predominantly comprised of Zinfandel.”

The wine looks young. It’s got a big clear meniscus where the surface of the wine meets the side of the glass. The color looks zinny.

It’s got a slightly spicy nose. It smells earthy. When I smell it, I think of the paleolithic painters who painted the bisons and ibexes  in a cave in Altamira. (By the way, the plural is “ibexes” or “ibices.”)

Oh, man. This is jammy. Lots of fruits and berries that I didn’t expect. I think I got some green apples, too. Definitely some cherries, and in the background some juicy plums. I envision those same paleolithic painters dancing with the shadows cast from a fire made from animal fat. I imagine some type of singing, as well. I imagine the fire, shadows, and singing animate the images of the bisons, ibexes, reindeer, boars, and horses. I imagine an underground party. I want to give them this wine. I want to party with them. I want to dance. I want my head bobbing up and down while I strut in a circular path inside the cave. I want my footprints in the dirt to last as long as the images on the walls. I want to play tunes on a flute made from a woolly mammoth’s tusk. I want Dr. Who’s TARDIS. . . .

This will go good with pasta and the summer squash, green peppers, mushrooms, and chick peas sautéed in Felix Oliver’s 18-year-old special reserve balsamic vinegar and a Tuscan Garden (oregano, rosemary, sage, and garlic) extra virgin olive oil. . . . And it was. Yum.//




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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