Thursday, February 18, 2010

Letter From Jack Spicer

Dear Mallarme,
You tiny man, how long, how many centuries will it take you to understand? There is a drink that Ed Dorn used to have in Tasmania, a red devil, part rhubarb part beetroot with a huge splash of vodka, I suggest you down a few and get a grip, Symbolism has failed. It was a ruse, a stumble on the way to the gibberish of Language Poetry. Duncan knew this even before you wrote that sonnet about the missing pansy. He was still living on Venus but he was looking down, thinking you were a twit. He looked ahead to the day Creeley and Dorn would arrive on The Island. He knew this was coming. He spoke with Yeats about it in 1910 - they were cruising in Spain, looking for the world beyond Symbolism. David Brooks is still there too. Debra Adamson called him Bookhead in the days of New Poetry, when he shipped in the first drafts of the Canadian sonnets of Fred Wa. He was on a binge of Symbolism and drunk on the idea of the Azure. It was Redness all along. There never was an Azure sky. And remember on the morning of The Island revolt: Red in the Morning, Sailor’s Warning. I remember the horror of the Symbolist’s Jim Bean, the bloody mess after the garfish were gutted and the guts strewn in the bathtub in Mosman Bay, there were Signs, there was summons, police, Wilding and Lyndy in tears as our Volvo was towed away by Patrick White. Symbolism! You fuckwit. These are the days of ceaseless wonder, the days of the radio going digital. The days of Symbolism killed Chris Brennan. Symbolism walked the streets of Loredo. Symbolism whistled Dixie. Devin Johnston saw Symbolism in the reflections of a teardrop from a mocking bird and started laughing. He is still smiling a century of southern comfort later. Symbolism is what Freddy Mercury was thinking about when he gave Les Murray the idea for that novel in verse, Freddy Neptune. It’s Mercury’s hidden life story.
Jack Spicer

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