Thursday, December 10, 2009

bueller? bueller?

had the day off which meant, hopefully, doing a lot of nothing. only got that partially accomplished. spent most of the day in the garden de-pooping [hugo is a large dog, and sophie, even tho she is a much smaller australian shepherd, can really produce] and removing leaves. trees sac has, in abundance and it seems all of the city's trees leaves find their way onto our front lawn and back garden. besides, a storm is expected by tonight and i wanted to get the leaves felled by the last storm out of the way to make room for the new batch of incoming leaves.

also spent some time reading what i can find online by new zealand poet bob orr. a few days ago i was reading the new zealand anthology big smoke. packed with historical data and poems of writers active between the years 1960 thru 1975 this tome is quite a compendium of some seriously good shit. i read the poems of orr and copied down these lines in my moleskin:

are nothing

I'm not interested
in moments of eternity

I'm here
I'm somewhere

the bio-notes for orr detail the fact that he had worked for 20 years on the docks in the waitemata harbour. i'm listening, sounds like a cool job, but i''m rather leery by what i remember reading the bio-notes for a british alt-poet from a long defunct lit journal that said the poet just finished a residency on a dock. i thought that the poet was being clever in the bio and took a blue-collar job because the poet needed the dough. but no, the british government was setting up poets with residencies with various industries as poet-in-residence of say airline pilots.

nothing wrong with that gig, but ugh. turns out orr is a pilot on the harbour. works, or used to work, up to 70 hours a week. whoa! if it seems i'm making too much of this poet's working life i must again state that i think poets should be doing all kinds of day jobs. and a poet who can work such a physically demanding job and write poems and publish and be overall a presence in contemporary new zealand poetry, man, color me impressed.

how's the dudes poetry? orr is a quiet voice but apparently a decent sort of chap according to this profile published in 2000, loyal to his friends and a hardworker both in poetry and his day job. i found myself lost in his texts, a good kind of lost, a few made me laugh outright. there's a touch of sadness and the daily working lives of both writers and people who make their living by their hands keep orr's lines taught.

i was so lost that perhaps if there was anyone around this afternoon between de-pooping and shuffling leaves they might not have recognized me. i was so gone that i could almost hear ben stein's voice from the film ferris bueller's day off [1986] calling out, bueller? bueller?


At 6:46 AM, Blogger Alan Baker said...

Richard, I wonder if the British poet you mention was Tom Pickard - he worked as a 'writer in residence' at a shipyard on the river Tyne, and made a good documentary film about it. True working-class writers are rare - isn't there an American called Fredd Voss? Steelworker? But there are people like George Oppen who worked as a carpenter for 20 years - tho he wasn't orginally working-class. I guess if you're working in a job like that, then you'r likely to treat poetry as a craft, as an act of constructing something.

At 1:14 PM, Blogger richard lopez said...

alan, yes the poet is indeed pickard, whom i adore as a writer. voss is a machinist working in long beach, california, and has a bigger following, i think, in britain than he does here in the u.s.

i'm not thinking about class so much in my little rant, tho that is a factor i suppose, one that is rarely talked about in the u.s. where most people operate the illusion that there is no such thing as the classes here, at least as it is played out in popular culture. however, i think that the myth of the only job for a poet is located in the classroom should be shattered and that poets need to be encouraged in looking in the many elsewheres of working. as there are many types of poets there should correspond many kinds of jobs too. interestingly in today's newspaper there was a good article about pilots working in the san francisco bay.

still, i look around and see many poets who work in other areas besides academe i am encouraged that as a poet who works far outside academia i am far from alone.

At 8:32 AM, Blogger Alan Baker said...

I've seen Pickard read a couple of times, the first was soon after his stint in the shipyard, and half the reading consisted of a screening of the film. He'd just published his book 'Custom and Exile', which I still have a copy of. I like your idea that 'many types of poets ... should correspond many kinds of jobs' - if only! There's a danger that poetry produced 'in the classroom' only gets read by people in a classroom - which no poet really wants for their work. I accept that my poetry will be mainly read by other poets, but I'd prefer those poets to come from all walks of life.

At 1:35 PM, Blogger richard lopez said...

me too, alan, nothing wrong with the classroom but there are many other kinds of life too


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