I have a poem in the new issue of Yellow Chair Review (#7). The poem is titled “Dusk Hit” and is from a series.
It can be read here.
Poetry, Literature, Whatever // An Online Presence of Michael S. Begnal
What is this might, this mystery,Here the rhyme is a bit heavy-handed, but the passage sums up Bynner’s perspective (and his repetition of rhyme is often meant to work as emphasis). Though he does not articulate a codified system (aside from the broad strokes), he does intend to take a political stance, having asserted at the start of this section, “‘Beauty,’ they ask, ‘in politics?’ / ‘If you put it there,’ say I” (23).
Moving and singing through democracy,
This music of the masses
And of you and me —
But purging and dynamic poetry! — (page 25)
To stop the wound and heal the scarHere, the rhyme is more subtle, with enjambment and the near-rhyme of “aptitude / flood,” even as the message remains stridently egalitarian. Bynner makes similarly strident statements about wealth inequality and war, while avoiding the ideological approach we sometimes later see especially in the poets of the 1930s — Bynner was not a Marxist, but more a radical progressive, albeit when the term still had something of a party-political connotation.
Of time, with sudden glorious aptitude
Woman assumes her part. Her pity in a flood
Flings down the gate.
She has been made to wait
Too long. . . . (37)
Let me receive communion with all men,There are some weaknesses here, though; sometimes Bynner’s frequent talk of the “soul” or “joy” becomes a bit too indistinct or clichéd. Pound, with his Imagist principles, had a point in this regard, the better strategy often being to avoid or at least critique such abstractions.
Acknowledging our one and only soul!
For not till then
Can God be God, till we ourselves are whole. (39)
“Who eats a face?” John Menesini asks in “Bathsalt Vaudeville.” Menesini himself eats a face, metaphorically speaking. Read these poems and find out in the reading; don’t take my word for it.
I’m writing this from a very subjective point of view. I know John and have been digging his poems since we first met in 1998. In Ireland then, his stuff struck me as a strange gust of “home,” whatever that is: “cracked macadam basketball courts / knee-high weeds in tangled clusters” or 4th of July parades with “hordes of drunken / volunteer fireman.” Or “Psychobilly Novaboys,” the first one of his I ever read, I think.
The range of his poetic insight, however, is long, much longer even than a shit-town inscape. Samurais sometimes lived a life of “archaic working-class toil”? Yes, I guess so. The idea connects them to the figures of old Pittsburgh in “Black Cemetery Wall.” I like the sweet elegy for Lou Reed (and Sterling Morrison) and the strange images of “Black Snow”: “cry black tears / sharp shards / become puddles”
Reading these again (and some for the first time) reminds me how good Menesini is — as if I needed reminding. I won’t go on, except to say that he is a poet of singular intensity and a complex sensibility who should be read.
— Michael S. Begnal, Pittsburgh, July 2014
|Hawthorn in bloom (via irisharchaeology.ie)|
|A Scottish Bealtaine festival, a few years back (via http://nva.org.uk/artwork/beltane/)|
|The Muddy Banks cover (art by John Menesini)|
|Photo that accompanies the interview|
Removed he was on his own now
He is the dark where you are free too
Or could be if you join him there?
— Elias, from “Pervasive Solace”
|Fred Moten (photo from the Poetry Foundation site)|
|The Pickled Body 2.2, cover art by Padhraig Nolan|
|Liddy in the film documentary, Patrick Kavanagh: No Man’s Fool|