from the Authors Preface
When I was invited to spend five months
in France, in an old hotel long frequented by artists and writers, I
decided to write something that would NOT be your typical sabbatical
poemthat familiar rumination, by the U.S. American academic
(temporary) expatriate, on the Mona Lisa, Baudelaires
grave, or how different all this is from back home in Missoula.
I believe that rue Wilson Monday
turned out to be something possibly more interesting: a hybrid of day
book, informal sonnet sequence, and extended, laminated
essay-poem, with an aesthetic (dare I say lyricism?) perhaps better
understood by our younger generation of poets than by their predecessors,
those mid-twentieth century traveloguists. Works I found particularly
inspiring in my endeavor were Ted Berrigans The Sonnets
and Edward Dorns Abhorrencesbooks that will make
me chuckle and weep to the end of my days. The book received its title
from French poet Guillaume Apollinaires 1913 poem Lundi
rue Christine (Monday rue Christine), a Cubist work composed almost
entirely out of verbatim speech from various conversations in a cafe.
In rue Wilson Monday, similar conversations
take place in and around my head during that stay (August 1998 / January
1999) at the Hotel Chevillon, an artists and writers retreat
in the small town of Grez-sur-Loing. Back in 1876, Robert Louis Stevenson
came to visit his cousin Robert at this hotel, whose present street
address is 114 rue Wilson, La Rue Grande (Main Street) back
then. There he met Fanny Osbourne, the woman he was to pursue across
the Atlantic and the North American continent and eventually marry.
To invite the reader to participate in my often elliptical conversations
with these folks, I have provided footnotes, and these too are an integral
part of the poem and the conversation.
Lovely? Deep? Funny? Angular? Brainy? Conversational?
Literary? Goofy? Elegaic? Agile? And all at the same time? How does
the great Anselm Hollo do it? Read rue Wilson Monday and find out!
Anselm Hollo was born
in Helsinki, Finland in 1934 and was educated there and in the United
States. In his early twenties, he left Finland to live and work as a
writer and translator, first in Germany and Austria, then in London.
For the last thirty years, Hollo has lived in the United States, teaching
creative writing and literary translation at numerous universities including
SUNY Buffalo, University of Iowa, and the University of Colorado. He
is now Associate Professor in the Graduate Writing and Poetics Department
at The Naropa Institute in Boulder. Author of more than thirty books,
Hollos poetry has been widely anthologized, and it has been translated
into Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, and Swedish.
from Rue Wilson Monday
carriage purrs man whistles pounds post
in distant rocky dark
reason, weaving, brabbles
cognition digs tunnel through Charlot's suitcase
zoom cog motion seagull cry
arms around everything
parallel out of someone
else's heaven tunnels
behind doors past
lit-up, frontal, still convinced
now cautious move to igloo syntax
doodle on smoke
watch reflections flounce
once again butterfly pulse entire percept
fictional jolt of eye: arms, yarns
hit me adventure come kiss me sadness
as if me had me still
in this ocean of "socio-political & aesthetic"
idiot electric catacomb gibberish
tumbling billows of stuff
something there is in man
wants to be top big banana baboon
but I am not Robert Frost I am a baboon
mad about the planet even this week
in the America that was it had that phrasing
ecstatic articulate and beaucoup
beaucoup conscious disquiet
now does the blissful somnambule recluster
a dream a flesh-colored dream? say what?
how to identify the ones who tend to war
& what to do about them discuss
on different color paper free up text
from fuzzy spaces inside head. hey,
are these walls "of" someplace? he stood
a veteran user of mind's ear
for tales of The Device
mortals love noise hurled into gaping flesh
well maybe yes. roll eyes round écriture
distortion makes you enemies
so either "say" things or it's endless postpreface
the elsewhere gunfire problem whose is it
the general infantilization
that became a groundswell of our century (said Eva)
not that we weren't part of it
when we were young & cruel
"deny yourself nothing" well that's one theory
only the creature knows its awful secret joys
and the mobile digressive figments collide (said Ann)
and people don't read
poetry because uncertainty
is associated with punishment (said Mark)
is stupid attention better than no attention
what about hissing a poem instead of the usual
soulful quaver or well-rehearsed scream
when your memory goes forget it (said Utah)
gates waterfalls shifting horizons
plastic halberds gentle fugitives
una Beatrice on the ramparts of Carcassonne
in black miniskirt more like Juliette Greco
is she thinking of "Raymond the Cathar Count of Toulouse"
fat chance she's gazing at sudden
flock of paragliders in the sky
while the guide drones on & I think of
"fictitious employment by no means uncommon in France"
he means government employment
fictitious government employment
but then government is fictitious too
as are the governed much of the time
look for yourself in this pebble or pencil
now does he know how to beam? contented?
grow fuzzy? nothing wrong with fuzzy
blissful? feel some place
keep stupid demons at bay
let them go or go on
hammering nothing in Nothing Land -
this be quite different
from crazy hot soul of sudden beginnings
cluttered & ever 'novel' inside
yes that did make for impetuous bellows
violent staggerings irritating ruins
before it all settled into rose debris;
so locate old hotel before books close
on trundling troubadours. semicolon
draped in defiance & bewildered hair
not up to the waves of the task
ready for the big mallet yet still chanting
"what vast sky wagons? what balloon yard?
what order to this?"
praying for door back to scale
begin the beguine may body begin
to turn the big barrel climb mountain
regain some sense of basic human
ever esurient for flash of meaning
our minds too orderly
in ways too predictable
so fill in the blank
between fedora and wingtip shoes
came down the old oaken stairs he must also have trod
who wrote "old and young, we are all on our last cruise"
and "to know what you like is the beginning of wisdom
and of old age" or up those stairs again, to read: "the old
appear in conversation in two characters:
the critically silent
and the garrulous anecdotic" Cousin Louis
who first met his Fanny here thanks to Cousin Bob
who was the more dashing the model for Alan Breck
and perhaps the dark Master of Ballantrae
when first we came here in August the pigeons next door
said coo-COO coo-coo coo-COO coo-coo
but now in November it's only coo-coo-COO
coo-coo-COO so, time to go, soon
"that the ants seem to wobble
as the morning sun catches their shadows"
not with us "too much" at all
not with us very long at all the sun the ants
the wobbling shadows all too hung up we be
on a civilization devoted to the speechless stare
punctuated by mindless speech
(& WHO is likely to read
these headthrob grumblespeak lyrics?)
"because they do not understand that cacophony
is at least as intricate an art as harmony"
& she cries out in her dream "where are you going?"
infinitesimal moods for milliseconds
kindly provide a theme for these variations
crackle crackle "good" "history"?
verify tales of each ego?
crackle crackle cerebral twitch
who slipped on the caviar?
who broke the hammer clavier?
& that was by Stupid Staggering Desirée
(Jean Baudrillard's favorite group) (who he?)
(I think he invented The Meter)
(well take him back to the meter office)
& that is so bad it's really kinda great
crackle crackle screeches whistles & ululations
(you say communists, bro? those really happen?)
hand me the righteous indignation but first
let me negotiate this corniche
Title: after Guillaume Apollinaire's poem "Lundi rue Christine."
Its translator Oliver Bernard says: "Presumably almost all of this
poem is verbatim speech from various conversations in a café."
In "rue Wilson Monday," similar conversations take place in
the scribe's caffeined head, during a five-month stay in a small French
Charlot: French nickname for Charlie Chaplin in early silent movies.
"Eva" - Eva Hesse, Pound's German translator, essayist. "Ann"
- Ann Lauterbach. "Mark" - Mark Wallace. "Utah"
- Utah Phillips. Great singers all.
In 1876, Robert Louis Stevenson came to visit his cousin Robert - then
a painter, later a lawyer, but also the author of good book on Diego
Velazquez - at the Hotel Chevillon (114 rue Wilson, back then "La
Rue Grande"), where he met Fanny Osbourne, the woman he was to
pursue across the Atlantic and the North American continent and eventually
"that the ants seem to wobble / as the morning sun catches their
shadows" -- EP, Canto LXXX, p. 105 in The Pisan Cantos (London:
Faber & Faber, 1949).
"because they do not understand that cacophony is at least as intricate
an art as harmony" -- Basil Bunting, "The Lion and the Lizard,"
p. 30 in Three Essays (Durham: Basil Bunting Poetry Centre, 1994).