Before 2o19 leaves us in a few days I need put up brief notification of a chapbook (hereinafter referred to as: book) I quietly published back in June. I say “quietly” as I didn’t exactly distribute it widely (postage has become an issue: expensive) and like my previous 2 books was printed in a small edition of 200 copies (most of my Zerx chapbooks come out in editions of 500). In one of Henry Miller’s last books he reflected that he would have been perfectly happy in his career writing for an intimate readership of 150 souls, all close friends, which seems to be my case, mass popularity and celebrity having evaded me the fates being what they are. For years I have put out one collection of my poems each year so my friends can see what I’ve been up to. With “social media” I have been able to fill in more of the cracks along those lines. But, and so, this new book NOT YET SO FAR (Zerx chapbook #75) represents a two-year gap since the previous.
Over the years my poetry comes in two styles. The most voluminous and fertile has been the first person narrative day-to-day (what Connie Crothers said of these poems of mine: quotidian)(I miss her). There’s a lot of us that write poems in that style, what my friend Ron Androla more adroitly calls: first-person intense. The second style came into existence in 1996 when David Parlato asked me to write some poems on the 5 elements of the ancient Greeks, earth water air fire & aether, to perform with his Outpost Repertory Jazz Orchestra. I’m not remembering whether we ever did a performance with these poems, but I wrote something like 35 in this style I call: atmospheres & elemental landscapes poems, disembodied terrestrial starry-sky poems, incorporeal and outside of time —- David and I collaborated on quite a few projects in those years, a very productive period, so they eventually got absorbed into other outcomes, ie. my cds BEAUTEMOUS EVERLASTING (1998), BOUNDLESS COALESCENCE (1999), and TURTLE NIGHT (2oo1) with my Mark Weber Poetry Band.
Eventually both styles sort’ve morphed, or rather, I tossed in elements of the atmospheres into the quotidian. And further down the road this mingled style is represented on cds like A MILLION SHIMMERING FISH (2o10) w/ Kazzrie Jaxen; MULTITUDES TELEPATHIC (2o12) w/ Michael Vlatkovich; and ELASTICITY (2o12) w/ the Vancouver BC ensemble Ion Zoo; as well as a week of performances (2o10) in Los Angeles with Harry Scorzo’s string trio + 3 jazz musicians, where I wrote poems for Harry’s re-vision of Ravel’s “Le Tombeau de Couperin.”
Of the atmospheres & elemental landscape poems, I’m not a writer who likes music around me when I’m writing (too distracting) but for these landscape poems I filled the house with incense and the sounds of Philip Glass’s cd GLASSWORKS and MUSIC IN 12 PARTS, and for the cataclysmic episodes in the texts I used Cecil Taylor’s monumental 1978 recordings released on 2 cds called THE CECIL TAYLOR UNIT and 3 PHASIS (New World Records).
Okay, along comes February 2o17 and I write the middle-of-the-night poems NIGHT RIDERS in an attempt to get close to what jazz musicians get into when they are soloing, what pianist Virg Dzurinko has identified as: pre-rational thought. Now, I’ve explained elsewhere how that is not exactly possible for writers as writing occupies a layer of the brain not as deep down as music, that the rational must be accessed to be able to construct sentences, etc, SO, I won’t go into that here. In these poems I got as close as I could to pre-rational expression. I quickly followed that book with SE SAEGEN RAD DOGOR-GERIM (2o17) which is basically NIGHT RIDERS 2, both books I’m proud of. Both are not exactly sequences, but each of the poems do relate to each other.
And so, two years pass before this NOT YET SO FAR decides to make itself known. This book is merely a collection of poems only related in that they are written by yours truly and represent all the aforementioned styles. Life goes on.
In my world there are two ways in which poems appear. Poems come into existence somewhat differently than prose and all the other styles. I tell students that you must train the mind to notice when a poem floats by. Of the 2 types, the first is the ol’ standby of Inspiration, where the poem appears to you fully formed and you merely jot it down (I’m not a believer in revision when it comes to poetry). The second type is what I call: Manufactured. Somebody asks you to write a poem and you profess to be a writer so sit down and write it. Another aspect of Manufactured is the part I’m totally in love with: You start with what I call a gambit, an opening phrase, and bricks & mortar, brick by brick you put the poem together.
I strive for brevity and clarity. For brevity I do an annual tune-up by reading Ezra Pound. For clarity I read Conan Doyle.
Why does one do all this? I wonder about that sometimes. And have to remind myself what Dostoyevsky pointed out years ago, the how/why we do this is so that the powers that be KNOW WE EXIST, (Fyodor was illustrating a certain civil recalcitrance). These dictators & autocrats & oligarchs do not get to dictate how we live and certainly not our internal lives, and that’s one thing artists provide in abundance: Recalcitrance! Hahaha, we’re crazy people! You can march us to the firing squad but we won’t do what you want.
More to the point, I was asked years ago in an interview that came out in CHIRON magazine: Why I write? And I said it was so I could fully say what I want to say. That in our speeded-up culture it’s sometimes difficult to finish what you are saying, what with interruptions and interrupters being so prevalent, and if you’re not aggressive you get buried in the mix, some of us retreat to writing to finish what we were trying to say.
Speaking of such things —- recalcitrance —- I might as well toss in my two cents on grammar. Whenever I’m in the role of teacher, I urge students to outline a Style Sheet, which contains all the various punctuations & grammar they intend to employ, it’s for uniformity, and what is called parallelism (ie. keep all your tenses in parallel, etc &c). One Style Sheet for poetry and one for prose. And update it every ten years. Things change.
I have grown increasingly unable to respond to questions regarding the various workings of grammar, English being such a hodgepodge anyway, and drift is pervasive. It was while studying Anglo-Saxon only a few years ago that I had an epiphany, and that is that A-S is a language that was spoken slower than we talk now. Each individual word was a story word (attended by all the connective utterances that make them narrative, i.e. grammar). I’ve long known there are no strict rules to bow down to in written English, but something happen’d fundamentally that I can only explain as: I saw through this English language, like it was plate glass, and almost any word order was okay, one merely slowed down the reading, and let the words do the work, not be so speedy as modern English tends to be.
Now, I’m not in rebellion against the rules of grammar, in fact, if you write long enough you eventually re-invent all the rules only to discover that they already exist before you thought you found them, bozo. And that they make perfect logical sense. I had the weird experience of first learning the rules via Spanish. In California they start you on Spanish in the 3rd grade, with Mrs Garcia, one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen, and such a beautiful loving spirit. Learning a second language you must correlate it to your native tongue, and that was insightful. (Also, sidebar here: in public school in the 60s, believe it or not, they were still pushing iambic pentameter, which was a long ways from my reality at the time, probably why I got an F in English (I walked out of that stupid class and never returned). Anyway, enough about me.
I dedicated this book to Patti because she’s the best and she used to sing at Shakey’s Pizza when she was a little sprat back in Oklahoma —- That’s her with Michael Vlatkovich —- photo by MW September 23, 2o12
The Sandia Mountains and Albuquerque from the West Mesa – May 27, 2o19 photo by MW
“Rainbird carburetor + nut & bolt” 1971 sculpture by Mark Weber
Nanette hates her picture taken so here’s Frank & Nanette’s shop in Albuquerque where all my books are printed, and not only that, Nanette does the lay-out and design, I just dump it all in her lap and she takes over from there, she’s a marvel ————- photo by MW August 27, 2o19
Sheila Jordan & Cameron Brown in duet March 5, 2o15 at Outpost Performance Space – photo by Mark Weber
New York City birdies —- October 23, 2o19 —- photo by MW
My Grandmother Irene circa 1944 Pomona, California
Our backyard late October 2o19
Arlen Asher —– photo by Mark Weber August 27, 2o19
Pat & Tom Albach at 725 while Tom and I were working on some transfers for his record company Nimbus West —- I met Tom in our old hometown Los Angeles back in 1979 maybe 78 when were both, what he called “Tapscott junkies,” now we both live in Albuquerque ———– photo by MW April 15, 2o15
My beloved yoga teacher Supriti (she even went to India to study with Iyengar, among others) —- photo by MW June 25, 2o19
Mom & Dad —- Joy & Don Weber 1952 Pomona, California
Joan Jobe Smith & MW —- April 12, 2o10 Long Beach, California
Zoreh Afsarzadeh at High Desert Yoga, Albuquerque —- photo by MW July 9, 2019
Dr Janet Simon – May 27, 2o19 on the West Mesa of Albuquerque —- photo by MW
Kazzrie Jaxen —- April 9, 2o19 Ellensburg NY photo by MW —- So glad Kazzrie did the cover art, her main medium is pastels, where she has done covers for Lennie Tristano’s Lp CONTINUITY (Jazz Records), and the very first release on New Artists Records: SWISH Connie Crothers & Max Roach duets; and Connie’s solo album CONCERT AT COOPER UNION, and in other places, like an ultramarine painting on the wall at Carol’s —— However, Kazzrie’s main MAIN medium is the piano, of which she is incomparable
Carol Tristano —- This photo hangs on the wall in Charley Krachy’s studio
Utah —- July 14, 1990 —- photo by Mark Weber