Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Phil Hall : Homage to Jamie Reid

 Originally a TISH poet    
Jamie Reid     argued in favour of     a poetry & politics    

 that run parallel     to George Oppen’s     without converging    

both men wanted more     than poetry     could make happen
 they both quit poetry     for communism     to try to do more     as citizens

but communism     authors     the authority     it says it doesn’t    
 so they both came back     to poetry

the soup kitchen     of the alphabet


 Something alien     & artistic-seeming     cuts its curve    
medievally     through the compromise     of our materials    

 chipboard    basement window     flag curtain     as if through grass

unveiled     is ruthless zoning     a deep urban crop circle     a snooty hole     
 the dug site     for a vacant tower     or turret           

real people     are abducted     or banished


 High Street Poetry     as Dick Higgins calls it
did not matter     to Reid     or Oppen

 for Oppen     the Numerous     & the Primitive     were a stick to eat with    
& a stick to eat with

 not nail together     to make a device     fake     holy     or allusive

for Oppen     poetry was a prow     around a jetty
 a discrete cast     of one & all     an audience     of one & all     the same

 for Reid     the line belonged     to the margins     it defined

 his poor untidy     rough crazy     wild kind obsessive     poet friends
were faithful     to a debilitating vision     of equality

 so the little words loved them     to     by     as     with     for     of   


 Oppen’s poetry     would rather have ridden a bicycle     downhill
hard     into a tree     than ever collaborate     with statues

 while Reid’s poetry     was Prez     Lester Young     on sax    

with the hottest players     those break-or-die dancers     that mock-official
 funeral sway

both men     saw how     there is a parade     around the parade
 & before & after     any procession

queer     feather     swoon & blare     
 in New Orleans     it is called     the Second Line


 Carole Itter     Al Neil     Gerry Gilbert     Artie Gold in Montreal    
Nellie McClung     the granddaughter     Red Lane     Pat’s brother    

 Neil Eustache     Kim Goldberg     T. Paul Ste. Marie

to champion such local renegades     whose words were beaten down thin
 into sudden song     & wide sharing

Mick Burrs     Gwen Hauser     Jones     Helen Portrebenko         

 is a renewable poetics     Reid wrote of     & believed in


 This other parade’s     invited polyphony    
never stops pageanting     exposed     in every direction at once

 the disaster     a squeak      & a shook fist

it is not stringent    or obedient     & has no last float    
                     inflated     or a wind-up     throwing free samples

 anyone can step off the curb     Norman Nawrocki     Alta     there is no curb

this other parade     keeps gathering in     nape & bateau    
 not passing by        

it welcomes & carries     all those who go largely unsung



Jamie Reid—Prez: Homage to Lester Young (Oolichan, 1994)
I. Another. The Space Between: Selected Poems (Talonbooks, 2004)
A Temporary Stranger: Homages, Poems and Recollections (Anvil, 2017)

George Oppen—Discrete Series (Objectivist , 1934)
The Materials (New Directions, 1962)
Of Being Numerous (New Directions, 1968)
Primitive (Black Sparrow, 1978)

Ph . Otty Lake . 2020

Phil Hall is the author of many books and chapbooks. In 2015, his award winning book of essay-poems, Killdeer, was translated into French by the Acadian poet Rose Després, and published as Le pluvier kildir by Éditions Prise de parole. Forthcoming from Beautiful Outlaw Press: Toward A Blacker Ardour (2020), and from Pedlar Press: Niagara & Government (2020). He lives near Perth, Ontario.

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