Saturday, September 04, 2010

quote unquote

Poets, you know, are always drinking in bars; I’m not drinking in bars; I’m at home reading, working, writing — that’s a modern poet. The modern poet is the poet that is involved with health, work, discipline, and which does not deny the fun of living. We are all very complex beings, but we have to be serious about the discipline of what we do. And I defend publicly and privately poetry as health, poetry as a lucidity that also depends on sweat and hard work, and a lucidity that depends on persistence.

--jose kozer


today i was reading stet [junction press, 2006] by jose kozer. the poems all beautifully translated by mark weiss, who is himself a very fine poet, got my blood, um, well, how to say this? ah fuck it -- got me hard. there is in kozer an abundance of presence, of the insistence of experiencing joy in life because that is what life demands. i suppose my first brushes with poetry were unbalanced by the late-romantic ideal that life is suffering and for the artist to be authentic in her work and her life then pain must be at the forefront of everything. you know, darkness, please, for that is the only fit subject matter for art, and if you die in a nuthouse by say age 50, then you are well on your way to becoming a serious artist.

fuck that shit. in kozer there is a whole lot of life, that includes suffering, but that pain is tempered by a bunch of sensuality. at least that's how i read him. that is bracing and a proof against pain being the prime mover in life and the work of life. i suppose one never becomes a master in either art or life. maybe the artist might be judged a master after she is long gone but, damn, i think of life and art, as they are both one and not one, as a series of mistakes and stumbling. fail better, yes. and more.


At 2:05 PM, Blogger EILEEN said...

I'm buying Stet because of this post! I love what you quoted from Kozer! And when you say

"in kozer there is a whole lot of life, that includes suffering, but that pain is tempered by a bunch of sensuality"

Honey, I am seduced!

At 6:04 PM, Blogger Jim K. said...

There is some great video of
him reading on youtube..
at St. Vincent's

At 5:58 PM, Blogger Okir said...

Thanks for this post, Richard. Well put. Gotta read Kozer...

At 10:52 PM, Blogger richard lopez said...

cool! thank you jim, jean and eileen. kozer is awesome shit and thanks for leading me to youtube, jim, for kozer's wonderful reading. i'm puzzled about kozer's relationship with english, which he claims to be totally uncomfortable with, yet he's been immersed in the language most of his adult life. but that brings up a host of considerations regarding linguistic exhile and so forth and is far outside the scope of my little post. alls i gots to say is viva kozer!

At 5:36 PM, Blogger Jim K. said...

This is the third poet in Spanish
I have seen apologize for English.
It comes out magic, though.
They worry about precision, but
day-to-day English isn't artist's
English. The similes work fine.
'take off the kid gloves' :-)


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