In my freshman year at Harvard I studied Swedish (Scandinavian B –there was no Scandinavian A) under Göran Printz-Påhlson, a pleasant if (as I thought) somewhat lumbering Swedish poet (I particularly remember that he wore leather jackets which creaked when he moved). He was a friendly and generous teacher, though I was too much in awe to actually seek him out and, well, converse. Just today I happened upon an electronic version of his Letters of Blood, and Other Works in English, and learned that he died in 2006. The introductory materials tell me some of what I missed by not, well, conversing.
Poetics is a subject of which I am largely ignorant, but a quick flip through the pages of the prose parts of the book suggests that I might enjoy discovering on some winter night when the snow howls without. And I’m mostly immune to poetry, though sometimes my attention is caught. And caught it is by some bits of Printz-Påhlson’s, like this from My Interview with I.A. Richards
Inversion is a counterfeit experience
there is but one irreversability.
Chestnuts, rabid squirrels, slosh and sleet,
the sullen, birdstained wisdom of John Harvard.
O Fyffes bananas, obscene planks,
the flexes bared to vision like the sinews
in Vessalius. I grope my way
through the intestines of heuristic house.
Last night we heard in Kresge Hall
a lion-vested English poet fulminate
like an under-paid volcano against Science,
applauded by a host of boffins.
Afterwards, a girl called Shirley took my hand
and wished to lead me through the maze
toward the magus posing there as Tannhäuser,
fettered with electric wires in a great maidenform…
and here’s the whole of Songs of Dock Boggs
There are gridiron reverberations
in the hills, sourmash
from the sheriff’s office
Ah, the gavroche innocence of a barnyard rape!
He offers a smile, mild
as pick-axe handles a
mile wide which kindles
the hide of rutabaga;
their red necks swabbed
by cool, pale blue grass
in the abstracted stare of poverty
Bushwacking the melodies of God
for the breakdown of bushfires
he nurtures illustrious health
with the grating pap
of pink indulgence,
plucking the lure of life
from the audible mouchoir moment
when distant authority suppurates
the blueridge landscapes of childhood.
Raw death: a clodhopper shovel
smack in the kisser.
and from The Lyndon Baines Johnson Lavatory Seat Refurbishing Rightwinding Leftbranching Recursive Selfperpetuating Paradox Memorial
Here I sit thinking: Aw, shit, think how great our country is.
Here I sit, scratching my ass, thinking: Aw, shit, think how great our country is.
Here I sit, smoking some grass, scratching my ass, thinking: Aw, shit, think how great our country is.
Here I sit, sticking my middle in, smoking some grass, scratching my ass, thinking: Aw, shit, think how great our country is.
Here I sit, waiting for the end, entertaining a friend, bridging a loan, blowing my horn, sucking my stick, flexing my prick, farting through my ring, sticking my middle in, smoking some grass, scratching my ass, thinking: Aw, shit, think how great our country is.