The care with which the rain is wrong and the green is wrong and the white is wrong. The care with which there is a chair and plenty of breathing. The care with which there is incredible justice and likeness, all this makes a magnificent asparagus, and also a fountain.
- Gertrude Stein, Tender Buttons
He volunteers that I seem like someone for whom words have a big ontological importance- like things don’t quite exist till I’ve said them. ‘Or,’ I say, ‘maybe it’s more about loss- things exist without words, but without words I’ve no safeguard against losing them the next minute.’
- Eve Sedgwick, A Dialogue on Love
Art is more than a matter of natural idiosyncrasy;
you were the goddamnest biggest meteor to crash across these skies.
—John Wieners, ‘The Cut’. Quotation found in ‘the sea under the house’: The selected correspondence of John Wieners and Charles Olson. Part of the amazing ‘Lost and Found’ series
It knew no lapse, nor Diminuation —
But large — serene —
Burned on — until through Dissolution —
It failed from Men —
I could not deem these Planetary forces
But suffered an Exchange of Territory —
Or World —
—Emily Dickinson poem #560, via Iain Morrison
By choice, John lived a difficult life. He made my life what it is. He recorded me, supported me, and remained my friend for over 30 years. I remember his beard in my ear, when we were both playing the Wort Hotel in Jackson Hole, and his stretched voice whispering, “Sing something! You have a great voice!” He hated my voice. I remember turtles, tons of them, around his office, his home. We build a turtle sanctuary in his backyard in L.A.- on Palms Boulevard, a breezy name for a concrete noise. Even the turtles were unhappy. And I remember his Prairie State guitars, his knowledge and his understanding […] But it is his vision that enriches us. He saw who we are. He wasn’t happy about it, but he told our story. And we fell down laughing, moved by what we had missed.
—Leo Kottke, on the death of John Fahey (1939-2001)
All speaks, when it speaks, in its own shape. I do not know why. Perhaps we may call it music. The word, the right word, it seems to stand outside of us- like the shining of rails in the night, and even the way away from home. I suppose it is music. There is a mystery: the mystery is that the ear knows. If one revises and revises- perhaps weeks and months and years and cannot revise, then there is something wrong with what you are trying to say. The ear knows, and I don’t know why.
—George Oppen, from ‘Statement on Poetics’
A little snow
is gone again