Liz’s Weekend Poetry Series: Ç/V. (sa-dee-ya five) a Montana trip

by lizard

Cedilla: n (Linguistics / Phonetics & Phonology) a character ( ¸ ) placed underneath a c before a, o, or u, esp in French, Portuguese, or Catalan, denoting that it is to be pronounced (s), not (k). The same character is used in the scripts of other languages, as in Turkish under s.

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It is my distinct pleasure to announce the upcoming release of a literary journal guest-edited by local poet Mark Gibbons, titled Ç/V. a Montana trip.

I got in touch with Mark earlier this week via e-mail, and asked him a few questions. Below the fold are two of his answers, along with a sneak peek from two poets, Ed Lahey and Scott Preston, who no longer draw their share of breath from our common air…

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How did you get involved with this project?

Peter Clavin and Tim Cook, former English Lit grad students at U of M, began this project with some of their friends four years ago after arriving in Missoula. Last year they asked me to contribute to the magazine, and at that release party a year ago, they asked me if I’d be interested in editing the next issue. They were hoping I’d bring more of a “Montana” tone to the issue since I was a local guy. It sounded like fun. It wasn’t like I’d be open for submissions since I knew such a slew of writers, so I said why not, sounds like fun. And it has been. But I wanted to be inclusive and let the people who’d carried the magazine in, so all the previous contributors sent stuff for consideration and I asked my inner circle of friends if they wanted to contribute. Then Ed Lahey dies and I think I should make this a tribute to him, and invite some more of those connections in. Then I thought why not ask everyone since I’d included so many folks, so I started asking everybody I bumped into. Then it became appartent there wouldn’t be enough room for “everybody I knew”. So I decided to go with what I had, and what I had was 69 contributors, 19 pieces of art, and 181 pages of journal . . . a goddamn book.

Should poets get political?

What isn’t political? I’m with R.D. Laing: everything is political. Poetry should be honest. I don’t pay much attention to the know-it-alls who deem things “a waste of time”. Everybody has to make that call for themselves. We don’t have much time, so it’s important to make the most of it, the best of it, and for each of us, those choices are different. Who am I to tell you what choices to make? Poetry is a place where my alter ego and I can express ourselves. I like going to poetry because I’m getting someone elses experience. Sometimes thats linear and distinct, and sometimes it’s abstract and whacked. But I’m like that, too. I enjoy finding myself in other people’s experience. Poetry is a way of connecting, of recognizing our shared humanity and our desire to know each other and to know “more” . . . like: what the fuck this is all about, this life, this consciousness. Like all art, poetry is about the unknown, about discovery, about mystery, about love . . . and anger and pain and humor and all the rest of it. Those who don’t have time for art, for poetry, or those other “wastes of time” are the same people who (in the words of an old janitor I knew) would step over a dollar to pick up a dime every day of the week.

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The Deal

Since much of the music that soundtracks
our lives comes out of the blues
the image should be familiar:
A lone traveler arrives at the crossroads
falls down on his knees
and makes his deal
says Give me the music of the Soul
in trade for my soul
Let the beautiful darkness
that vibrates from the air
inhale an old dusty weed that feeds
on the sun
to become the sun
Let the deep songs convince me
there was ever a soul here to gamble
in the first place
and if the wax that holds my motions
steady in the world
has any strength or value left
I will sing my way to the bottom
of your pit
then fly the music I’ve stolen
back out again

—Scott Preston

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and here is an excerpt from a letter from Ed Lahey to John Holbrook:

I was trying to figure out how to go on with my novel and happened to read a novelist critic who wrote, “It is like starting out to drive across the country in your car at night. One has to pull on his headlights and drive, that’s all.”

Tis quite a deal though, when you stand there with the keys in your hand.

What H. James said of stories can be said about a few poems. I used to think the old dandy and formalist was pretty silly, and in many ways he was, but I am coming down in that same field when I swing and connect with a fast ball or any good pitch!

It is not nearly so imperious to believe in the importance of beautiful writing and the deep mystery in it, as we learn to suspect; paradoxically, often by the very system that teaches creative writing as a professional study, and so inevitably tends to bureaucratize it and demean and sully it.

It is a way of life, isn’t it! Closer to gardening or fly tying than journalism, maybe. Though there have been some wonderful journalists.

P.S. It is hard to believe that that balless wonder of a T.S. Eliot could have worried about “mixing memory and desire,” that April was the “cruelest” month! He should have been condemned to live in Montana for sixty winters. I’m glad for April and that May flowers are just ahead.

And I’m glad for November, glad to be here. I’m a lucky guy.

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The release party will be at the Crystal Theatre, December 10th, at 7pm. I’m excited to count myself among those who contributed to this project, and will be reading at the release party. Copies will be available for purchase at the event.

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