Monday, July 30, 2012

reading William Crawford

For all I know, there might be some existing Contemporary Theory of Language & Poetics through which the poems of William Crawford can be read. In a deeper way than conventional reading. Or maybe I will have to invent one. Something that will have to do with openness, immanent modality, haunted time, evental structure, cadential gesture. A theory of poetry to approach lines that vibrate within equivocal dimensions, that form written situations and visions seducing through an early withholding of context. 

Similar to what Derrida said: " breathless suspension, that is to say, alive, alert, vigilant, ready [prête] to be engaged down a wholly other path, to open up to whatever may come, listening faithfully, all ears, to that other speech."

So a reader, as if on the trail of a mystery, is led through Crawford's lines and stanzas. To see what is going on. Lured ahead with pleasure, owing to the compelling language and cadence.

All poems, I think, have this in common: the poem itself becomes a part of the life of the poem. An intrinsic self-reflexivity. A certain tension or dynamic arcs between what is being written and the writing of it. A poem is a metaphorm. Usually this is an unconscious thing for the poet. But when he or she is aware of this subtle irony, access is gained to rooms of different saying, to modes of unusual consciousness and art. I think Crawford, more than most, is aware of the poem as such becoming an implicit aspect of the poem's theme or emotion. With such an awareness, the moments of making exist in a field of strange energy and trembling potential.  

Sometimes, the certainty of context or a definite framing remains elusive. I mentioned the word "openness" above. Some of Crawford's poems remain open, even as they ostensibly conclude. I also said "haunted time." The poem below gradually colors the temporality of its happening in wistful, surreal, nostalgic hues. And the cadence is varied, breathing, reverential.

Scars on the Raindrops

the timing was always bad

a dago red window

hemorrhaging heat

petechial scarlet spring

both Venice and Vienna

a glass eyed doll

limp on a balcony

suggesting scenes

dreamed by Fellini

Christmas lights

startled by the depth of their own blues

blinking in early May

waiting for the late darkness to descend

damn this mirror as it shatters

as you open your arms again

hoping for a song this time

comparing common scars

on the raindrops

off-white and awful

set deep in azure

she blew songless bluebirds

out of the right side of her mouth

from the left

she blew penny wishes

blew haloes and grace notes

eyes so still and steady


as she gave that confession

to you

her camera

she was quite the actress

her face exquisitely lit

on one side

the softness of shadow

on the other

a gentled moon


that long flowing jawline

a dangling dolichoid dancer

her mouth a beautiful wound

a strawberry roan

ready to run

and you wished

she would blink just once

just close her eyes –

both blue flower and flame –

allowing rest

possibly dreams

her body was a limestone cathedral

and yours

a snake willing to swallow

anything before it.

From his book Fire in the Marrow
© William Crawford

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