Sunday, 22 March 2015

Paul Blackburn

Paul Blackburn was a New York Poet – but then again, he wasn’t. He spent most of his life in New York City, yet as Robert Creeley points out his Preface to Against the Silences, he was still strongly shaped by the experience of his Puritan New England childhood. He was an important figure in the New York poetry scene of the 1950s and 60s, organising readings and helping out fellow poets, yet one of his most important influences were the Provencial poets he started studying in his 20s and which he translated throughout his life. As a close friend to Robert Creeley he has often been associated to the Black Mountain Poets, but he himself resisted such categorisation. His own poetics – probably summarised best in his 1954 statement (http://jacketmagazine.com/12/blac-stat.html) – lays a great emphasis on the sound quality of poetry. Reading it today – more than 60 years later – I found some of his words almost prophetic, or maybe we have just been heading in the same bloody direction for 60 years!

I recommend checking out the recordings of his readings on Penn Sound and a whole bunch of poems on EPC.



~ - ~


Hackney Pandora
After Paul Blackburn

it’s not so much about
curiosity
as about               finding  someone
to blame for all
the         dog shit
& take-away                      chicken
bones & blue
off-license plastic bags
garnishing the   trendy                  side-
walks     of artisan sourdough dreams

sweeping            it                            all           up
every morning at six thirty-five before
we          catch
the over               - ground to highbury     or kingsland
as if        land                      -fill the fucking void
or congestion
charge

just like the cats
and sacks
and that               weirdo schroedinger
(or so they say )              when
singed fur smell &            skunk                   fills the
air
& you can’t escape                           it
                forty hours are never                     enough
in the shade of
 shards &
 restaurant                          bookies
plain                      payday mockery 

most of us           (  living)                               in            a              box
  anyway
with the mouldy bits
&             three     weeks                   of rent                                 behind

so all      they                       are concerned   about
is to                                                        screw
the lid back on
screw
the lid back on
so that
fucking laughing cynic

 hope                    remains


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