Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Ronald Johnson, Take Me Away!

A small but happy conversation going on over at the Say Something Wonderful Poetry Forum (already 43 members, and growing by the hour!) about how much folks liked reading Beam 10 of Ronald Johnson's ARK at the SSW NEH seminar this summer. We read it on the day we studied "Riddles and Charms," and participants were tickled to see how much sense they could make of it in conversation, when it seemed so elusive before the discussion began.

(For those of you who don't know the text, here it is: "daimon diamond monad I / Adam Kadmon in the sky." Yup, that's all of it. We started by looking up the words; "Adam Kadmon" is best hunted up as a phrase, a name, rather than as two separate words, although it functions that way too. Oh, and keep an ear out for puns.)

In any case, I was so pleased to see a teacher vow to "start each of my classes this year with the Adam poem" that I took a few minutes to hunt up some RJ resources on the web, easy to find. So here they are:

I'll post links to Ron's cookbooks on request. Thanks for reading, and I'll see you at the Forum!

1 comment:

Richard Taylor said...

I'm interested in this. I dont teach poetry (I did once for about a couple of months or so) but I write. I read ARK a year ago or so and then I decided I needed to learn how to do cryptic crosswords! I have also read Scroggins' book about Zukofsky. Now - however - I realise that the poetry (of Johnson in particular) can be beautiful and stimulating without knowing all the detalia - in any case I am interested in this approach you have here.

I was fascinated in the whole idea of the long poem and the 'project' (I know about the language poets) and i began one myself it is called EYELIGHT (in fact it is kind of subset of a conceptual (best term I can think of) work I call The Infinte Poem - it in turn is inspired partly by the language poets or my first experience of them in 1992 - and in particular an essay of Charles Bernstein's)

here is link or address to it:


I am neither gay nor Jewish (although I beleive my grandfather may have had Jewish parentage I am not sure) - but I loved a lot of ARK (I am also fascinated by The Wizard of Oz) and am very interested in Johnson - there is too much here for me to look at just now but I will do...your (and this approach here to) teaching I applaud.

My "poem" though is perhaps outside the realm of poetry as (usually/normally?) conceived* - I don't subscribe - as such - to poetry as perfected isolated pieces as such - well you can see that on my Blog if you have time to go ther -ideally look back to earlier posts.

Just now I have started a cycle that began with poems about some Jewish Rabbis I saw here in the newspaper examining some ancient scrolls - this lead me to thinking about Zukofsky and the poem which beings the cycle in "Room 1" - this lead by a round about way to what may appear to be rather "dark" - that is to the Holocaust and also via Jacob Bronowski's "The Ascent of Man"...

Perhaps there may be some bearing on the teaching of literature and writing here - as this is a work that is ongoing.

I have no time limit on it...and I work with images and everything is a part of the work.


My kind regards, Richard

*But I have written many many "isolated" poems.