Introductory notes by Jared:
Today we’re hearing from two writers of elegant poetry , aof elegant obsessiveness. Using form as a kind of stylemarker. I might describe them jokingly in an opposition – Dan M as horizontal, Jeremy sigler as vertical poet. This is partly a matter of forms they’ve adopted in work of theirs I’ve read – Machlin’s intense investigation of a blocky 6 line, 7 syllable stanzas., Sigler’s of a kind of post -Creeley linear mode of stacking single or two-or-three word lines., ending up with something resembling reading Japanese. But we could think of the horizontal as a kind of traversing of a landscape and the vertical as a kind of cutting through planes. Both vectors connect ideas and people. So we have a certain contrast here, but both poets are clearly equally interested in producing a poetry that is dense and playful and intricate.
Machlin’s work has a Sinuous, sensual languid quality but is also shrewd, unsentimental, down-to-earth. The effect for me seems somehow European in a slightly surreal, de Chirico way. Farrah suggested his poems have a way making a direct connection w language, that the text could itself have a body
Machlin writes “that the body at times can be thought to overwrite the purity of consciousness”
Lines like this have a way of turning indirect address into a kind of anthem
In ANTEBODIES, the extended exploration of the 6x7 form becomes another way into this issue of embodying. With almost oulipian obsessiveness the stanza structure repeats over and over, creating an armature for many digressive gestures. There’s a sameness and at the same time a sense of total uncertainty, form as a mystery to be solved.
"I can't explain why structure is good for man but it is"
It brings to my mind Kenneth Koch, both the impish dramatist harnessing fragments that seem absurdly non-viable but also the warm teacher -DM 's poems admirably teach us how to read them
"It's not really important whether poetry is red or blue -I do it for fun. Or because it doesn't hurt. Or really because I'm scared about nothing being done."
So if we have Machlin as the St Augustine of tonight’s reading, offering the poetic body as a building and a civitas (I’ve barely mentioned his heroic work as a publisher with his extremely terrific press Futurepoem), then I guess Jeremy sigler can be tonight’s Thomas Aquinas, as his poems have a way playing with some mysterious admixture of reason and revelation in the way they continuously court an aura of aphorism without ever becoming simplistically epigrammatic. This is partly due to Sigler’s extended play with homophones and deep alliterations, creating word combination that sound logical and inevitable in a quizzical way. “Potion of my patience” he writes, “or “lunar logic,” “garish garnish” “rush into the bush with me blush with me” “Implodes with what I imply”… These torqued mixes of off-rhymes and vowel shifts induce a kind of syncopation in his poems not of rhythm but of phoneme. His stanzas become vaudeville stage in which the love of words becomes a romance and a comedy, both screwball and slapstick. (Farrah suggested that it brought to her mind French Farce- her words were “Crackpot poet is the noises off of poetry!”) If it’s frequently funny though, the stakes in Sigler’s poems are high. “There’s a world awhirl within” he writes at one point, and, in a memorable disruption of the pathetic fallacy “my feelings hurt”
We’re hugely proud to present two great forces for good in poetry today. Dan Machlin and Jeremy Sigler.