Wednesday, August 01, 2012
I felt like Jacob
wrestling the angel of mixed
Lately I've been reading Tyrone Williams. Well, to be accurate, I've been reading him ever since I first saw some of his poems in Callaloo, but lately I've been reading these two most recent books. Adventures of Pi, from which the above lines are drawn, collects poems from the decade of the 80s. Howell was commissioned by Lyn Hejinian and Travis Ortiz as the thirty-third volume in their Atelos series. When I saw Tyrone last Spring I told him we'd have to get his book arrested at City Lights so we could have a Howell Trial, and then we could publish the annotated Howell.
But I'm here to tell you that you need to read these books. Not only will you see the development of a remarkable writer over a period of time, but you'll eventually come to one of the wildest things I've ever read, "Horse x (shoe/power)," an extended vamp on the situation of pit ponies. I'd never heard of them before either, but, unlike Tyrone Williams, I'd never run across The Pit Pony Sanctuary. This thing is equal parts Plato, Swift (especially Swift, though I said 'equal parts'), Twain, Martin Luther King crossed with Thoreau crossed with Chris Rock. This is a powerful comic meditation that you'll read over and over.
"Get on your pony and ride," we used to sing and dance. "Pony up," I said to the sharp at the card table. "Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades . . . and poetry," wrote David Goren long ago. Forget dressage, turn to this Olympian trope and have yourself a read.