Posts Tagged ‘John Coltrane


W. S. Merwin’s The Shadow of Sirius (2008)

Over the next few weeks or months, I will post all my reviews (“Tom’s Celebrations”) that appeared in Redactions: Poetry, Poetics, & Prose (formerly Redactions: Poetry & Poetics) up to and including issue 12. After that, my reviews appeared here (The Line Break) before appearing in the journal. This review first appeared in issue 11, which was published circa January 2009.


W. S. Merwin's – The Shadow of SiriusDoes W. S. Merwin’s newest book, The Shadow of Sirius (Copper Canyon Press), need a review from me  . . . a mortal? Probably not, but not for the reasons you might think. Quite often in this book I think Merwin transcends time, and he succeeds in actually yoking together his whole life:

   that I would descend some years later
   and recognize it
   there we were all together
   one time                    			
                                             (“Europe,” 28)

The now, the past, and the present become one, not just because he says so, but because you can feel it through his use of verbs. He uses simple verbs like “is,” “was,” and “will be” in a complicated reflective-visionary-staring-into-the-now manner and in an easy to read manner, and those two modes, in part, create this timeless effect.

To a larger extent, Merwin continues to write to the large past and the large future and the large present of poets – he talks to them all simultaneously, which may be even easier than yoking together his life.

Oh, there’s obviously more to this book than time, his time, and humanity’s time. There is his new experimentation with line breaks, which has subtle and interesting effects on the Merwinian tone. This undertaking is much like an older John Coltrane experimenting with bending notes in a Seattle concert, but it is easier on the ears. Yes, there’s much more than time and line breaks, like words:

   apparently we believe
   in the words
   and through them
   but we long beyond them
   for what is unseen
   what remains out of reach
   what is kept covered      		
                                        (“Raiment,” 26-7)

Yes, Merwin is still relevant, strong, and uncovering more great poetry for us.//




Merwin, W. S. The Shadow of Sirius. Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2008.//


in pursuit of the juiciest wine: day sixty-four (Zaca Mesa Syrah 2005)

I am currently listening to Dusky Goykovich’s Swinging Macedonia. I am particularly fond of “Macedonia.”

It’s a good album. It has a gypsy feel. A malagueña feel. A Lorca feel. A Macedonian feel.

Plus, the people who did the theme song for Mission Impossible must have stolen the beginning from “Wedding March of Alexander the Macedonian.”

John Coltrane The Complete Africa/Brass SessionsAnyway, if you like John Coltrane’s versions of “Greensleeves,” you’ll like this album. I especially love, love, love both versions of “Greensleeves” on Coltrane’s The Complete Africa/Brass Sessions. That’s a must have album. It’s amazing. By the way, “Greensleeves” is one of the all time great songs in history, no matter who performs it. It’s a great song that has endured for about 400 years now. So, yah, it’s good.

Zaca Mesa Syrah 2005Now it’s time to switch continents. Now it’s time for Zaca Mesa Syrah 2005 from Santa Ynez Valley. I can’t remember the last Syrah I had from California, so this will be a surprise, but maybe not much of a surprise as the Wine Spectator gave it 92 points.

This bottle has been open for two hours, so it should be fully open by now.

The meniscus is tricky. It’s trying to hide, but I can see it. It’s there being all coy while absorbing all the slow falling legs. The meniscus is not saying a word. It’s not inviting or saying come back again some other time. I’ll take that as a cue to give it a sniff. I think I should slowly approach this wine, which makes sense because I’ve been wanting to drink it for about a week now.

Oh, dear Zaca Mesa Syrah, do present your nose.

It’s a lovely Syrah nose. I smell another continent even. I smell Australia.  But no, it’s from California. It smells dark. By the way, it is dark. It’s 98% opaque with bright purple sides and a dark ruby hue. It has a hint of pepper in it. It also has blackberries and blueberries. I’m also picking up something like steak fat. Juicy, yummy, slight charred steak fat that is served on a white plate next to a bouquet of flowers. There’s definitely flowers in the nose. Oh, the table has a muted white and freshly pressed table cloth. And here comes the server with a towel draped over his left arm. He pours me a glass of the Zaca Mesa Syrah 2005. What a picturesque nose this wine has. Already, I want to come back.

Anyway. To the tasting. Allons-y.

It’s cold in the front of the mouth and warm in the back. You know what? It’s kinda meaty. It’s got like a steak finish and sort of a steak feel, but only on the finish. A good medium-rare steak. At the same time, and I hate putting this next to the steak, but it’s a bit leathery, too.

It’s definitely a full-bodied wine. It’s a hard body, too, yet a bit juicy.  And it seems old world Syrah to me, which is fine, but I like them even bigger than this one and with more explosions. But that’s me. What about this wine. It’s a solid, sturdy wine. The flavors are concentrated, which I like, but I think a little cheese or red sauce pasta or, of course, some steak would put this wine at ease and make it all loose and cool. You know, like a muted white and freshly pressed table cloth but with a few crumbs on it and a waded up cloth napkin and one unused fork.

I have no steak, but I have some cheese and water. Oh, yeah. That did it. This wine opened right up. It got all bright like it’s bright purple sides. It started smiling and kicking back. It put its napkin on the table, slid the chair back a bit, kicked out its legs, started chattin’ and laughin’ away while tapping the unused fork on the freshly pressed table cloth, and then it said, “Honey, where’s that baked Alaska at?”

Oh, this just gets better and better. I haven’t had a bite of cheese in a while. Yeah, it’s lovely. A wonderful commingling of steak and flowers.

I like this wine. I can’t wait to serve it with dinner.

Enough said. I’ll give it 90 points.

By the way, we just travelled to four different continents and through 400 years in this post. It’s time for more Zaca Mesa Syrah.//

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

The Cave

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Poems for an Empty Church

The Oldest Stone in the World

The Oldest Stone in the Wolrd

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

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After Malagueña

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