1) The first thing that blew me away when I returned home from Brooklyn and greedily opened my Boo (which was waiting for me along side biographies of Shakespeare and Jonson) was the sheer Whitmanesque charisma and scintillation of it all: the big-heated spirit, the boundless energy , the Joie-De-Vivre. And yet, also, I was amazed by a stealthy and shrewd persona. A veritable host of personas! But, all in all, loveable. Absolutely loveable.
I had to rub my eyes once or twice, I admit, and scratch my ass, pensively, and then return to the bounties of the book to see if it was all for real. I mean, how could it be ?? … But, Yes! Yes! Yes! … Look, for example, at how Whitman’s “I lean and loaf at my ease” translates, and upgrades even, so seamlessly, to Boo’s elegant and contemporary “I like to lounge around the house.”
And, delightfully, also, there is something tremendously naughty in the way Boo enchants us with his insouciance. His lazy wisdom. His casual control of self and universe. It is indeed impressive. And quite enchanting. Intoxicating. And heady…..Yes, folks hungry for the “real deal”, Boo is here. And he is a game changer. One for the cannon. Or one, really, round which the cannon rebuilds and redefines itself.
2) The most important question the serious student or master of literature must ask when measuring a candidate up against Walt Whitman, the Titan and father of American Literature, is “Does the subject contains multitudes??”
Some British guy is saying Jesus came to England to “study” and build a church because ” little was known about his life before age 30.” Sure! Why not? I have a feeling this guy is some kind of reincarnation of Chaucer’s Pardoner, because little is known about the afterlife. More importantly, what degree would Jesus get? I’m thinking an MFA. Best attempt at His first submission to His poetry workshop wins my blessing and/or the bones of a dead pig saint.
One of the greatest surprises found in a used book is entertaining marginalia, though, often, the last reader’s scribblings are either illegible, inane or distracting. In a library copy of Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood I found someone’s psychotic, paranoid underlinings that were inane and distracting, but somehow also entertaining. There’s even an narrative arc to their madness. Continue reading “Marginalia: Jesus Blood”
There’s a little jewel of a poem by Kathryn Regina at Opium called “I Want to Know You.” It’s playfully humorous without being sarcastic, earnest without being sentimental—the tone is dead on. Simply put, it makes me smile.
In the poem, Regina speaks endearingly to the second person pronoun, and one is first compelled to think she’s addressing you, the reader.
As the poem moves forward, [you] begin to suspect she’s referring to something bigger, with Genesis and/or Purgatory light/fire allusions like, “I want to know every fire you have ever lit,” and the clever, “Do you have the internet in your pinkie?”
That she is speaking to Jesus is confirmed with “Tell me how much sadness/ there is in your body and where it is located.” With a simple line, she conveys more about the Passion than Mel Gibson ever dreamed. And there’s this minor epiphany: “You feel like email to me.”
The poem works as an e-generation hymn. It’s so odd to come across a poem that’s so optimistic. She ends it with a surreal kick: absurd, haunting, and beautiful:
I want to know everything about you. What kinds of trees appear in your dreams and what whale is beached in your room when you wake.
I don’t know if Regina is religious, and I don’t think that’s the point. Christians ruin Christianity with hypocrisy and hubris (and the constant ‘holy wars’ aren’t helping the PR). This poem may just well redeem this whole Jesus thing, as it reminds us of the simple act of love. Non-sexual, non-platonic. Just love.