Louis Esterhuizen. Robert Polito nuwe president van Poetry Foundation

 

Die Poetry Foundation in die VSA het onlangs bekend gemaak dat die stigting se keurpaneel eenparig ten gunste van die nuwe president, Robert Polito (foto), se aanstelling as president gestem het. Die volg na die teenswoordige president, John Barr, sy uitrede aan die begin van verlede aangekondig het. Volgens die persverklaring sal Polito die leisels amptelik by Barr oorneem op 8 Julie vanjaar.

Ek haal aan uit die persverklaring: “A highly respected poet, critic, and biographer, Polito has served since 1992 as director of Creative Writing at The New School, where he founded the MFA Program in Creative Writing and (with Len and Louise Riggio) the Riggio Honors Program: Writing and Democracy. Born in Boston in 1951, he earned a doctorate in English and American language and literature from Harvard University. Polito’s poetry, which blends lyric, collage, and narrative impulses and draws on both American pop culture and literary tradition, has been collected in two books, Hollywood & God (2009) and Doubles (1995) […] The recipient of numerous honors and awards, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Ingram Merrill Foundation, Polito is a contributing editor to BOMB and the Boston Review. His poetry, essays, and criticism have been published widely, including in the Best American Poetry, Best American Essays, and Best American Movie Writing annual anthologies.”

Indrukwekkend, inderdaad. John Kenney, voorsitter van die Poetry Foundation se beheerraad, het hom soos volg oor Polito se aanstelling uitgelaat: ““Robert Polito is the right leader for the next chapter of the Poetry Foundation.  He is an accomplished poet, writer, and teacher. And he will bring to the job broad experience and a creative energy that will move the organization in new directions while remaining true to the legacy of Poetry magazine and the mission of the Poetry Foundation. I am delighted that Robert is joining the Foundation and look forward to working with him.”

In reaksie op sy aanstelling het Polito soos volg gereageer: ““We live at a lucky moment for poetry, when there are so many surprising poets across generations, cultures, and styles—and this situation is one of the powerful legacies of Poetry, the magazine Harriet Monroe proposed a little over a century ago. I’m grateful to the Poetry Foundation for the chance to join their tradition of innovation and change—at once touchstone, template, and aspiration for the century ahead.”

En ja, gewis bevind die Amerikaanse digkuns, en dan veral hierdie betrokke organisasie hom in “a lucky moment”; veral na die skenking van 200 miljoen USD deur die filantroop (en asprirat digter) Ruth Lilly. Met dié finansiële rugsteun kan hulle met reg – en volslae selfvertroue – die volgende as riglyn vir die organisasie stel: “The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs. “

Ter verdere ondersteuning van dié aanstelling is daar ‘n onderhoud met Robert Polito wat op die Poetry Foundation se webblad gelees kan word.

Hieronder volg die lang titelgedig uit Polito se voorlaaste bundel.

*

Hollywood & God

 

If only God would save me,
I would know how to hurt you.

If only God would save me,
I would know who to sell my soul to.

Anything is an autobiography,
but this is a conversation –

William Burroughs insisted
literature lagged 50 years behind painting,

thinking no doubt about abstraction, collage,
fragmentation, his cut-ups.

But whatever that meant (why always 50 years?), or however
he presumed to rile other writers,

poetry probably does lag behind any credible media theory
     about it –

so that if I put a pine tree
into a poem,

a grove of pine trees
and beyond them the sea,

you’d think it was the same tree Wordsworth put there;
instead of two obligatory centuries of nature studies, all those

Technicolor vistas, torch songs, couples
drifting through leaves in Salem commercials.

Into one life and out another,

the way a junkie playing a writer,
a writer playing a priest,

so that when I finally blurted out,
You-betrayed me/I-wounded-you/We’re-so-unhappy

you assumed the burden of personal urgency,
supposed it was me speaking at the limits of my self-control

and not The Damned Don’t Cry,
Temptation
, and Leave Her to Heaven.

You open your mouth and a tradition dribbles out.

But that’s mimesis –

how almost impossible to avoid mimesis,
anybody’s hardest truths prompting the most fractured
     constructions,

the way to think about God might be
to disobey God,

if only God’s wish to remain hidden,

so that if everything is an autobiography,
this is a conversion.

As my lives flash before me,

why must the yearning for God
trump all other yearnings?

You often hear converts confess
the drinking, his pills, her sexual addiction,

concealed inside them a yearning for God –
why not the other way around?

The admission of Jesus into your life
concealing instead the wish, say, a need

to be fucked senseless drunk drugged & screaming
OH GOD! OH GOD!
on a hotel bed…

God embraces our yearnings.

That afternoon my father heard his diagnosis of inoperable   
     cancer,
my aunt Barbara demanded we get him to Lourdes.

She demanded this with a glass of vodka in her hand –
she demanded this running her fingers up and down my leg –
she demanded this before she passed out in her car –

In the movie of my life,
my father died

after I forgave him,

& when my secret tormentor said may the ghosts of your dreams
gnaw at your belly like a wolf under your jacket,

did she really want revenge,
or was she just killing time?

For me God is a hair shirt, or he’s nothing;
for me God is a pain in the ass;

that’s mimesis, again,

this hour I tell you things in confidence,
I might not tell everybody, but I’ll tell you.

The world is a road under the wall to the church,
the world is a church, & the world is a road,

& the world is a stone wall.

Still, he wanted her the way the Cardinal wanted the  
     Caravaggio,
& when the ill-advised possessor of the painting resisted –
one night Papal Guards searched his house.

Of course contraband came to light, some illegal rifles,
& when the ill-advised possessor of the painting went to prison –the Cardinal got his Caravaggio.

But I wasn’t a Cardinal, nephew to the Pope,
and you –
you were not a Caravaggio.

So I asked you to be in my movie.

 

© Robert Polito (Uit: Hollywood & God, 2009: University of Chicago.)

 

 

Bookmark and Share

Comments are closed.

  •