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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Coolidge

I'm reading aloud to myself a long book by Clark Coolidge, one of my favorite poets, A Book Beginning With...   It is over 500 pages, and mostly in prose, so I am just doing it a bit per day.  I've done three out of twenty sections so far and haven't' reached the 100 page mark.

It seemed the only way to read this, since passing one's eyes over it one would quickly give up by trying to read too fast or skimming over the text.  This is a text that cannot be skimmed because the point is to be immersed in its textures at great length. Its length, in other words, is part of the point.  I've heard recordings so I know how he reads. I don't emulate that exactly, but I don't try to veer from his style either.  I still hear his voice in my head and just imitate that voice very inexactly.

The first section, on caves, is the best so far.  The Beckett section is a bit less successful, but I'm looking forward to the section on music.

Coolidge invites you into a private world.  He isn't trying to appeal to what he thinks would already appeal to you, but rather invites you into his space.  If you share something of that already, as I do, you might find it congenial.  For example, he has sections on jazz, on Creeley, on Eigner, and on Beckett, so I share those tastes. This isn't literature meant to be "universal," appealing to everyone.

Anyway, incorporating this into my daily routine has been nice. My normal way of reading would be to have three or four different books on the table at any given time, in fear of limiting myself.  

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