Saturday, July 26, 2014

June 29, 2014: David Brazil Part 1

A few months back we met with poet David Brazil (previous guest Sara Larsen joined us!) who read from and engaged us with his extraordinary first full-length collection, The Ordinary, published by Compline last year.

Comprised of poems mostly typewritten and some with lines crossed out, that have found their way onto receipts, notepaper, and other found scraps, David described his first collection as a "reader" that brings together six different parts/projects/chapbooks: (kairos), (election), (vierges), (descort), (economy), and (to romans). Representing five years of work, each section has a "different contour," but a similar physicality. It's this "physicality" that makes The Ordinary a sublime experience both visually and cerebrally as the reader cascades into a series of poems that appear to have been caught in their acts of making! Poems are typed out, crossed out, taped up, or handwritten onto receipts; the objects that accommodate the poems dictate their "songs." Instead of "collaged" pieces, David likened the finished poems as "hybrids." Interspersed between the poems in the collection are other East Bay neighborhood finds such as lost pet posts and an announcement from the "Friends of Negro Spirituals" about a "Juneteeth Community Sing" at the West Oakland Senior Center and whose opposite page is "Reading Assignment #2," a translation of Genesis: 1:1-3 from the original Hebrew.

Addressing the potentially prophetic section called "(economy)," that was written prior to the Occupy protests in 2011, David questioned, "what can the poet detect that's actually going to happen in the future?" Summoning Shelley's "the shadows which futurity casts," we explored the possibilities of poetry as prophecy.

St. Paul, the "restrainer" (from the Greek katechon) and his writings occupy the central motifs and ideas holding The Ordinary together. "That which I would do, I cannot do and that which I would not do, I do," a quote from Paul, David shared, is expressed throughout the book. Using "scripture" as part of the language of the poem is something David has been interested in for some time--letting his studies of ancient language become a part of the prosodic flow in his work. We then heard a metered/poem translation of Romans I that's included in the last section "(to romans)." Asked about his interest in varied forms (form as law-giver!), David asked what is the opposite of form--of a non-governed poem? We explored whether it's anarchy or grace! In the second half, Sara asked David to elaborate on why he chose to translate the Romans and we then jumped into a discussion on the theological question of Grace! Click here to listen.

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