* remembering galway kinnell

Given this week’s news of Galway Kinnell’s passing, I find myself heading into Dia de los Muertos this weekend with him on my mind.

I had the pleasure of attending a reading he gave alongside Phil Levine in NYC. The two great poets chatted at their table before the reading. When the time came to start, Galway walked up to the mic and in his booming, majestic baritone gave a stellar reading of Phil’s poem “They Feed They Lion.” The room was collectively knocked out. Phil then walked up and replaced Galway at the podium, and said: “Gee, that was pretty good.”

They then proceeded to take turns, poem by poem, reading each other’s work. I remember how well the two voices complimented each other’s work, Phil adding some lyric subtlety to his reading of Galway’s “The Avenue Bearing the Initial of the Christ into the New World,” and Galway delivering the grit and grace behind Phil’s poems.

Grit and grace are two solid words to remember Galway Kinnell by, words exemplified in the meditation in the poem below.

* el maestro *
* el maestro *

The Man Splitting Wood in the Daybreak – Galway Kinnell

The man splitting wood in the daybreak
looks strong, as though, if one weakened,
one could turn to him and he would help.
Gus Newland was strong. When he split wood
he struck hard, flashing the bright steel
through the air so hard the hard maple
leapt apart, as it’s feared marriages will do
in countries reluctant to permit divorce,
and even willow, which, though stacked
to dry a full year, on being split
actually weeps—totem wood, therefore,
to the married-until-death—sunders
with many little lip-wetting gasp-noises.
But Gus is dead. We could turn to our fathers,
but they help us only by the unperplexed
looking-back of the numerals cut into headstones.
Or to our mothers, whose love, so devastated,
can’t, even in spring, break through the hard earth.
Our spouses weaken at the same rate we do.
We have to hold our children up to lean on them.
Everyone who could help goes or hasn’t arrived.
What about the man splitting wood in the daybreak,
who looked strong? That was years ago. That was me.

***

Happy stronging!

Jose

* an apologetic annotated anatomy of a reading

This past Tuesday night I had the pleasure of taking part in Pretty Owl Poetry’s Online Reading Series.

The reading/interview was conducted through Google+ and was a blast despite a few technical difficulties. Because of the nature of the interview – specifically the part in which I am given permission to ramble and bumble in my own awkward way – I thought I’d share the link along with some of the highlights of the reading, so folks could navigate through my loquaciousness (as can be noted in the interview, the BIG words only come out in writing).

Follow along with the reading here.

HIGHLIGHTS

 from 3:49 – 10:45 = 3 poems!

Here is the “reading” portion of the reading. The pieces read are “Stream” (published by Pretty Owl Poetry here) as well as “Letter to Rainer Maria Rilke from NYC” (published in the Acentos Review here) and “Naos and the Spirit Picture” (published in a digital chapbook here).

from 11:08 – 14:24 = craft talk!

Here I respond to a question from editor Rose Huber about the piece “Stream” which has gone through several mutations since first being drafted in 2006.

*

A little into the following question, I cut out both sound-wise and image-wise. Then I’m promptly replaced by this guy:

* oops *
* oops *

Despite his stern look and sudden goatee, I thank this gentleman for intervening for, because of him, folks are spared from having to deal with my teeth on camera which are HUGE.

*

from 19:19 – 26:33 = blog! reading! astrology!

This stretch includes Kelly Andrews asking me both about the thinking behind this blog as well as reading.

Then, after mentioning the astrological underpinnings of the blog, Gordon Buchan jumps in and I totally geek out about astrology and writers.

Writers astrologically discussed:

– Kafka, Neruda (Cancer)
– Jack Gilbert (Aquarius)
– Rilke (Sagittarius)
– Charles Simic (Taurus)
– Yeats, Garrett Hongo (Gemini)
– Borges, Charles Wright, myself (Virgo)

*

from 28:09 – 30:47 = mas craft talk!

Lastly, here Gordon jumps right back in and asks another question about craft which leads me to discuss ideas of lyricism and personal/generative distinctions between prose and poetry.

*

Special thanks again to Rose, Kelly, & Gordon for inviting me to participate!

Between this reading and the release of “Naos: an introduction,” it’s been an unexpectedly big week.

Thank you to everyone who made it possible!

*

Happy possibling!

Jose

* upcoming reading Thursday, November 21st

Just a quick post to announce an upcoming reading this week for those of  you in the Cincinnati area:

Thursday, November 21, at Northside Tavern.

The reading begins promptly at 7, featuring fiction writers Sarah Strickley and Andrew Trostle, and poets Julia Koets and, yours truly,  Jose Araguz!

Brought to you by the English Graduate Organization (EGO) of the University of Cincinnati.  Special thanks to Sara Watson!

All best,

Jose

* Robert Hayden & the friday influence

Those Winter Sundays – Robert Hayden

Sundays too my father got up early

and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,

then with cracked hands that ached

from labor in the weekday weather made

banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

 

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.

When the rooms were warm, he’d call,

and slowly I would rise and dress,

fearing the chronic angers of that house,

 

Speaking indifferently to him,

who had driven out the cold

and polished my good shoes as well.

What did I know, what did I know

of love’s austere and lonely offices?

***

This week on the Influence – Robert Hayden!

*the man*
*the man*

This poem gets a lot of love – on the internet, in anthologies, in classes – and deserves every bit of it.

I opened up my reading this past Tuesday with this poem, reciting it from memory.  It is one of those poems I’ve carried close to me for years now.  The poem never stops teaching me something.

Here’s what I said about it at the reading:

This poem opened up a lot of doors for me.  It is a poem of presence: blue black cold – splintering breaking – there is presence in the very sounds!  But the poem ends with that question – What did I know, what did I know… and that question comes from a place of absence.  The origins for my book The Wall started from a similar absence, from not knowing my father at all growing up because he died when I was six and spent most of those last years in prison.  The poems start from absence – like a blank page, and the poems fill it up.

This week was a big week for me – I don’t get them often.

Thank you to everyone who was a part of it.

See you next Friday!

Jose

p.s. A little more love for Hayden from the Poetry Foundation can be found here.

* quick update

Hey y’all!

Just a quick post to announce an upcoming reading:

Tuesday, February 19th

5:30pm

@ the Eugene Public Library

I will be reading alongside fellow Eugene writer Eliot Treichel.

It will be my first official reading for my chapbook, The Wall.  I look forward to putting some of these poems in the air.

For more info on the reading, please check out the Lane Literary Guild’s website here.

I’ll post more updates on prep for the reading as it gets closer to the date.

***

In other news,  I cut my hair.  Check it out:

nothing's wrong - I'm shorn...
nothing’s wrong – I’m shorn…

You can’t really see it well cuz I’m scared to take a photo.  I haven’t rocked a goatee in a minute either.  We’ll see how long this lasts.

Please note: that IS my writing blanket on my shoulders there.

Ani knit it last summer as a sort of lap blanket.

I, being twelve, wear it across my shoulders like a cape.

So I guess I have a writing cape.

This way I feel like I’m fighting crime when I submit poems.

I am the goddamn poet!!!

Peace,

jose