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Showing posts from January, 2007

Pessoa: The Exhausting Electric Trolley Car

All night I have dreamt of tobacco,
of a world filled with smoke
and governed by tobacconists.
I work my way back to you
through generations of cigarettes

rollups tailormades filtered, unfiltered
fat and thin, menthol and acrid
some coloured and some with cards, pictures
a world of dead stars and football players
a world all lips and fingers

I light my way to a dark café
the smoke from my own cigarette ending
in the smoke that billows above your head
that is your life, inhaled then with a flourish
expelled, to entertain the air, to go nowhere.

Tobacco-haunted I wander
through rooms rank with the odour...

For some years now I have been trying on and off to write a poem for and about Álvaro de Campos, trying for lines that would get at the essence of this elusive personality and the body of work created out of it; lines that might also be spoken by a near relative of de Campos, that would be, in the ancient tradition of clumsy homage, approximations of the poet himself, mimetic alignme…

Francis Ponge: Siding with things

No poet has looked more determinedly or more ferociously at things than Francis Ponge, whose Selected Poems has just been published on this side of the Atlantic by Faber. Le parti pris des choses, or Siding with Things, is a key collection of his, and even a brief scan of his titles will reveal his resolutely thing-centred approach: “Rain”, “Ripe Blackberries”, “The Crate”, “The Candle”, “The Cigarette”, “The Orange”, “The Oyster”. Ponge’s work is written in the form of prose poems, a form that always seems to sit uneasily in English, but is perfectly suited to the chunky materiality of Ponge’s vision. In his poem or proem ‘Memorandum’ he offers a useful statement of “the only interesting principle according to which interesting works can be written, and written well” :

“You have first of all to side with your own spirit, and your own taste. Then take the time, and have the courage, to express all your thoughts on the subject at hand (not just keeping the expressions that seem bri…