Friday, July 29, 2011

The Wonder Show of the Universe

I sat down today to try to read some of Marcia Nardi's actually published poetry. I have tried before, but it was too off-putting. Maybe because the genteelly thin poems seemed somehow shamed by the excess of her letters to Williams, as if she was deluded in inventing more crafty modes to squirrel away unacceptable emotions. However today the poems seem strangely compelling--you can hear the resonances of her anger and poverty between the lines, the bitterness twisted up into a bittersweet rhyme, and a kind of Buddhist approach to emptiness and death (although she seems not to have the tools to sugar-coat it as such--this is before the Gary Snyders and the Allen Ginsbergs inform the scene--so there is an interesting unqualified vacillation between despair and resignation; after all, as her letters imply, she still very much wants to be a part of the world that has abandoned her; she has not, for all that, become detached from her desires).
One interesting discovery had to do with her odd repeated references to Thurston or Thurstons, used as one might say something like "the Shakespeares and Homers of our time." It was difficult to search on Google, given that our communal digital brain does not confer the same sort of esteem that Nardi seemed to have for this figure. It couldn't be Thurston Moore or Thurston Howell III for purely historical reasons. Perhaps some legendary robber baron or scientist whose obscure advance became posthumously revolutionary? When I saw this picture, I knew who she was talking about

Knowing this, these lines become clear:

"And how that magic hat, invisibly
With rabbits filled,
That charmed her in her childhood will suddenly be
Some tattered schoolroom map of six by four
From which new Thurstons wonderfully draw
Real Aetnas"

+++++++++++++++++("Femelle de L'Homme")

"Your thought running from you
Just outside your window
At your call turning by running on
Because you have no face yet
Because it does not know you
Because you are the original Thurston
For a world of his own making
In order to be born,
The creator creating to be created
The womb within a womb--"

+++++++++++++++++("Alone with a Poem")

In honor of Marcia Nardi, spend some time with unloved poetry.