Sunday, March 10, 2013

"Stop It With Your Strategies"

George Stanley is one of Vancouver's great civic poets, a master of the interior-exterior inversion. Back in February I posted on George, a post that includes the cover of The Capilano Review's "George Stanley Issue" (3.14), a picture of George taken outside UC Berkeley in 1965.

Brook Houglum is the editor of TCR. When she asked if I would contribute a piece to a George Stanley issue I wrote a poem called "Self-Portrait on George". Another piece in that issue is a conversation between Joshua Clover and Chris Nealon, entitled "Public Transportation: George Stanley's Vancouver".

Clover was in town this week for the University of British Columbia Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory's 36th Annual Art History Graduate Symposium, where he gave what artist Tim Lee described as a "rousing" keynote. Unfortunately I was unable to make this event but, in the way one attends and conveys to the other, I learned that the poet-scholar began by identifying his "two favourite Canadian cities" -- Montreal and Vancouver -- and spoke of them as ports from which surplus flowed. From there Clover took the audience on a journey through time and space, a journey that included the monochromatic.

In their TCR conversation, Clover asks "why is the long poem so profoundly indexed to the city itself?" and in his "reply" Nealon notes how "[taking] the bus links what I think are the two great themes of Stanley's poems since the '80s, class relations and ageing." Yet another instance of transportation as the poet's stylus.

Last night I transported myself to the Anavets Unit No. 298 Legion at Main and 23rd, where another poet-scholar, Clint Burnham, hosted drinks in Clover's honour. Having never met Clover before, and by way of an introduction, I brought with me a poem from George's forthcoming collection, After Desire, a poem I printed from galleys sent to me last week by George's publisher, New Star Books, a poem in response to the questions that followed Clover's initial question ("Is this relation as evident as it seems? Is it culturally specific? What about the 21st century?"), a poem entitled "The Past".

Here is an excerpt from the "The Past"'s mid-section, its gut, as it were:

Any change is a change to the given, the already,
the model of right which is the most recent model
that you did wrong by striking out from.

1 comment:

  1. Michael, it was great to meet you — and thanks so much for the pirated poem, which has me looking forward to the new star. See you soon, I hope —